The use of alignment in ancient near Eastern mathematics
Cuneiform texts from the ancient near east include the oldest written mathematics in the world. These texts did not use symbolism to communicate mathematical operations, unlike modern mathematics. The hypothesis of this study was that alignment was used to perform a similar function. To investigate this, the study examined the formatting of different cur1eiform tables, which inherently used alignment to imply an operation. A range of tabular development was included, from the simple, informal tables to sophisticated headed, complex tables. The study also looked at the use of alignment on 'rough working' arithmetical exercise texts, and identified two formats in which multiplication exercises were arranged. The study concluded that although alignment was used to show operations, this was a weak convention compared with the more prolific practices of left-justification, explicit statements through words and the concrete progression of logic from left to right along a line.
SubjectsField of Research::01 - Mathematical Sciences
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