Dec 7, 2018 in Informative

History of Numbers Essay


Numbers were first invented in 35,000 B.C. during which whole numbers and rational numbers were the most applicable variables in their commercial calculations. The history of numbers can therefore be traced back to the discovery era as artifacts and bones which formed tally marks. People preferred numbers which could be constructed mechanically. However, the Isaac Newton’s inventions introduced the idea of continuous variable numbers in1600 B.C. Later on in the 1800s the discontinuous functions were introduced in order to clear the confusion brought about by the continuous variable.

The geometry and other more technical problems however led to the introduction of square roots and development of algebraic numerals. Innovations and technological advancements have thus led to the invention of different types of numbers classified into sets. This paper seeks to analyze the History of Numbers, and find out what a “Big Number” is and whether there is a zillion numbers.

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Types of numbers

Natural numbers

The natural numbers was first invented in 1500B.C by the Egyptians through the use of distinct hieroglyphs. Initially numbers 1-10 was first invented and later they introduced all numbers with powers of 10 and their highest limit was a million. During this period zero was not considered as a number. In the 1st century B.C the Mayan civilization started using zero as a number a practice which only revolved within the Mesoamerica. The first universal study of numbers was credited due to the works of Archimedes and Pythagoras famous philosophers in the Greek empire. The two emphasized on a more advanced natural numbers. The natural numbers are the most commonly used form of numbers which seeks to enhance the arithmetic operations. The natural numbers are mainly based on tens number system where the expressions are mainly done in ten digits. In this case the rightmost digit mostly assumes the value of ones while any other digit placed after the right most digit assume the value of ten times the value of the digit to its right. A letter N is also commonly used when referring to a set of natural numbers. It is also important to note that natural numbers are also referred to as positive integers (Joshi, 1989). The numbers are therefore said to comprise a set of non-negative integers. Among the notable properties of the natural numbers includes the ability to implement some additions, subtractions, multiplication and divisions. All this properties make it easy to use natural numbers in mathematical calculations.


This can be defined as numbers which have a value less than zero. Integers comprise of the negative numbers and are usually noted by the negative sign which is put in front of the number. Integers and natural numbers can be combined to form a set of integers denoted by letter Z. It is important to understand that integers consist of the natural numbers but a negative sign is added onto them. Integers also comprises of the smallest group of numbers. Similarly, integers have the associative, distributive and communicative properties which make them easier to manipulate (Flegg, 2002).  The properties also make the integers user friendly while computing.

Rational numbers

This is a fraction which has a non-zero denominator.  A rational number therefore represents a fraction of the whole.  During the initial stages integers were mainly reciprocals of the positive integers. But with the mathematics advancements, fractions which consist of both numerators and denominators have been improvised. The continued advancement has enhanced rational numbers to be expressed in decimal forms (Kline, 1990). In such case the denominator is mainly powered by tens, hundreds or so considering the number of digits to the right of the decimal. It is possible to do some additions, subtractions, multiplications and divisions to the rational numbers.  In some instances the fraction numbers are rationalized, this mostly occurs when the denominator consist of irrational number or complex numbers (Nahin, 1998).

Real number

This are all measuring numbers, either whole or fraction, positive or negative. Real numbers assist in improving the accuracy in the measurement parameters as they tend to be more precise. It sometimes becomes more difficult to compute real numbers unless there is an algorithm.  The expression of the real number in decimal form seeks to establish least error margin (Robert, 2000).

Complex numbers

This is the more advanced group of numbers which exhibits abstract formulas. Some of the examples of the complex numbers contained in the polynomials and advanced roots. Emergence of more advanced formulas has therefore led to the emergence of more complex numbers (Ahlfors, 1979).

The biggest number

Numerically the biggest natural number is a billion. A billion comprise of a ten digit numbers. The number can be written as 1,000,000,000. This is the universally recognized big number which exists throughout the world. 

It is important to note that numbers has continued to gain popularity in the day-to-day human life. The reason being because it becomes more important as it help people to combine, divide, multiply and subtract their daily transactions and identify whether the are worthy or not. As the Dwivedi argues, combinations of numbers are always meaningful to the lives of human beings and that they are not like the combinations of words and alphabets which sometimes become meaningless. According to his book the serial and natural quality of numbers enables them to remain succinct. Numbers continues to play a big role with introduction of money economy in the current world. It has always people to determine whether or not they are operating under a profit. It also enables people to put take precautions when a continued loss is observed within a venture. Numbers also eradicates the much confusion which used to exist before. It has also answered most of the life ambiguities and abstracts thus assisting people to understand the current environmental conditions. Numbers also enables people to fix time frame in their operations. Through it people have been able to maximize their returns (Kline, 1972).  

According to the research already done identical numbers do attract one another. There is a mutual affinity of numbers which are identical. Our lives are therefore governed and categorized with some specific numbers. For instance people tend to formulate some social affinities if they share some identical numbers. The numerology has also made it easier for people to understand their past, present and future. The precision, interest and the definite nature of numbers have also assisted people to understand one another (Nicolas, 1998).  People are able to identify their date of birth the year, month and the day which enables him or her to have a well synchronized program of events in life. Through such numbers the individuals are able to identify the spiritual numbers which guides and regulates the individual operations. Through numbers someone can successfully derive expressions such as squares by multiplying the number with itself. The presence of numbers assists in the function interpretation and thus helps to prove some theories mathematically. We can therefore say that presence of numbers assist in eradication confusions which mostly occupies our day-to-day life (Dantzig, 1930). It is therefore appropriate to argue that numbers have greatly contributed to the education advancement as it assist scholars and other elites to prove their written theory using some mathematic formulae. 


The history of numbers have come from far, from simple to complex and its still evolving as people innovate more. Having being first invented by the Egyptians, the number has continued to gain universality as more people seek to use it dress their daily issues. The different types of numbers have therefore been developed in order to address the daily issues. The real and complex numbers on the other hand assist people to reduce the error margin as they are more accurate than the natural numbers. Originally people only used natural numbers but as the field diversified there was need to improvise rational numbers. Additionally the presence of integers also assisted people to address the negative numbers. The precision, interest and the definite nature of numbers assisted people to understand one another. People are able to identify their date of birth the year, month and the day which enables them to have a well synchronized program of events in life. Through such numbers the individuals are able to identify the spiritual numbers which guides and regulates their operations. The serial and natural quality of numbers enables them to remain succinct.


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