Posted by: Wayne Robinson | May 12, 2010

Decimal Point Erratum

I must apologise to the reader for a technical problem in the Technical Innovations of the Seventeenth Century – The Decimal Point post. During the process of transmitting the text from my brain to the keyboard, all the negative powers were made into positive ones. This may explain the surefit of – signs in the joints of my little finger at the moment. The text should have read:

The notation propounded by Stevin the dropped the arabic zero and used numbers in small circles to indicate the power of 10 that the number should be multiplied by.

Stevin's decimal notation

In the example above, his notation represents 184 times 100 plus 5 times 10-1 plus 4 times 10-2 plus… you get the idea. The modern dot notation implies the same thing, but the powers are understood from the position of the digit a particular number of places to the left or right of the decimal point. In Stevin’s notation, it is possible to skip straight from 100 to 10-5 if the intervening digits are all zeros.

Normal programming will now be resumed.

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