Decimal arithmetic, was Re: Python GUI app to impress the boss?

Piet van Oostrum piet at
Fri Oct 4 21:57:34 CEST 2002

>>>>> Christian Tismer <tismer at> (CT) writes:

CT> Greg Ewing wrote:
>> Christian Tismer wrote:
>>> And see how simple they built their positional
>>> system, using just two symbols:
>> Although I suspect that scribes would quickly
>> have learned to recognise each "cluster" of
>> marks, drawn in a recognisable pattern,
>> as a single symbol, in which case there
>> were really 14 symbols (5 + 9).

CT> Right. Remarkably they did *lack a zero* !!!

They used an empty space for the zero. But I saw in a museum a tablet
where the scribe made a calculation error because he failed to notice this
Piet van Oostrum <piet at>
Private email: P.van.Oostrum at

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