A History Of Mathematical Notations/Volume 1/Early Arabs

A History Of Mathematical Notations, Volume I by Florian Cajori
Numerical Symbols and Combinations of Symbols: Early Arabs

EARLY ARABS

1 ا 10 ی 100 ق 100 غ 10 000 یغ 100 000 قغ
2 ب 20 ك 200 ر 200 بغ 20 000 كغ 200 000 رغ
3 ج 30 ل 300 ش 300 جغ 30 000 لغ 300 000 شغ
4 د 40 م 400 ت 400 دغ 40 000 مغ 400 000 تغ
5 ه 50 ن 500 ث 500 هغ 50 000 نغ 500 000 ثغ
6 و 60 س 600 خ 600 وغ 60 000 سغ 600 000 خغ
7 ز 70 ع 700 ذ 700 زغ 70 000 عغ 700 000 ذغ
8 ح 80 ف 800 ض 800 حغ 80 000 فغ 800 000 ضغ
9 ط 90 ص 900 ظ 900 طغ 90 000 صغ 900 000 ظغ

Fig. 14.—Arabic alphabetic numerals used before the introduction of the Hindu-Arabic numerals.

45. At the time of Mohammed the Arabs had a script which did not differ materially from that of later centuries. The letters of the early Arabic alphabet came to be used as numerals among the Arabs as early as the sixth century of our era.[1] After the time of Mohammed, the conquering Moslem armies coming in contact with Greek culture acquired the Greek numerals. Administrators and military leaders used them. A tax record of the eighth century contains numbers expressed by Arabic letters and also by Greek letters.[2] Figure 14 is a table given by Ruska, exhibiting the Arabic letters and the numerical values which they represent. Taking the symbol for 1,000 twice, on the multiplicative principle, yielded 1,000,000. The Hindu-Arabic numerals, with the zero, began to spread among the Arabs in the ninth and tenth centuries, and they slowly displaced the Arabic and Greek numerals.[3]

  1. Julius Ruska, “Zur ältesten arabischen Algebra und Rechenkunst,” Sitzungsberichte d. Heidelberger Akademie der Wissensch. (Philos.-histor. Klasse, 1917; 2. Abhandlung), p. 37.
  2. Ibid., p. 40.
  3. Ibid., 47.