No stinking calculators, cont’d: Egyptian math

Ever since I saw Arthur Benjamin’s astonishing display of mathematical ability, I’ve been interested in alternative math strategies that you won’t learn in a modern American classroom (a great disservice to today’s students, I think).

Here’s Michael S. Schneider demonstrating the mathematics used by the ancient Egyptians and Chinese (and still employed in today’s computers; who knew?), which operates on the base-2 number system rather than the more familiar base-10:

If you’re curious about how it handles fractions and decimals, a video (somewhat dryly but clearly) explains further here.

Schneider seems to have some New Age-y notions I don’t buy into, about “sacred geometry” and the hidden significance of numbers in the universe; but his math strategies — like Arthur Benjamin’s — are solid, and deserve to be more widely taught to kids at school, I think. The more tools we have in our mental arsenal for figuring out the world, the better.

(via Unreasonable Faith)



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2 responses to “No stinking calculators, cont’d: Egyptian math


    Your video about Aegyptian Maths would be great to show my kids in 6th grade math at Olibiera Elementary in Fremont, CA but—- the web site is made unavailable to computers in the district. Is there a CD available?


    • I’m not aware of any such DVD, unfortunately. However, this video has been reposted on many websites. Try doing a Google search for “schneider egyptian math” and see if any of those sites are viewable on your school’s computers. Good luck.

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