Home > Numbers and Pre-Algebra > Whole Numbers

# Whole Numbers

In the earlier civilizations, people used simple numbering systems for counting. They would use words over and over again, or have knots tied in a piece of rope (and count the knots), or move pebbles from one place to another.

Australian Aborigines used words like mal  =  1, bulan  =  2, guliba  =  3, bulan bulan  =  4, bulan guliba  =  5, guliba guliba  =  6, etc.

As time passed, other civilisations like Babylonian, Roman, Egyptian, Greek and Mayan people developed numbering systems with pictures for words and numbers. The first three were base 10 system (modern way of counting), while Mayan was base 20 system.

Our current number system is based on ten, and is called the decimal system. This system evolved from ancient Hindu (India) and Arabic (early European), and was called Hindu-Arabic system. The ten symbols (or numbers), viz. 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 are called digits. The position of each digit in the number system has different values, and these are called ‘place values‘. The number 23 has 2 tens, and 3 units.

The other commonly used numbering system is Roman numerals.

 Roman Numeral Hindu-Arabic Numeral I 1 V 5 X 10 L 50 C 100 D 500 M 1000