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Synopsis: A riveting history of counting and calculating from the time of the cave dwellers to the late twentieth century, The Universal History of Numbers is the first complete account of the invention and evolution of numbers the world over. As different cultures around the globe struggled with problems of harvests, constructing buildings, educating their citizens, and exploring the wonders of science, each civilization created its own unique and wonderful mathematical system.
Dubbed the "Indiana Jones of numbers," Georges Ifrah traveled all over the world for ten years to uncover the little-known details of this amazing story. From India to China, and from Egypt to Chile, Ifrah talked to mathematicians, historians, archaeologists, and philosophers. He deciphered ancient writing on crumbling walls; scrutinized stones, tools, cylinders, and cones; and examined carved bones, elaborately knotted counting strings, and X-rays of the contents of never-opened ancient clay accounting balls. Conveying all the excitement and joy of the process of discovery, Ifrah writes in a delightful storytelling style, recounting a plethora of intriguing and amusing anecdotes along the way.
From the stories of the various ingenious ways in which different early cultures used their bodies to count and perfected the use of the first calculating machine-the hand-to the invention of different styles of tally sticks, up through the creation of alphabetic numbers, the Greek and Roman numeric systems, and the birth of modern numerals in ancient India, we are taken on a marvelous journey through humankind's grand intellectual epic.
We meet those who only count to four-anything more is "a lot"; discover the first uses of counting fingers and toes; learn of the amazing ability of abacus users to calculate with brilliant efficiency; and ponder the intriguing question: How did many cultures manage to calculate for all those centuries without a zero? Exploring the many ways civilizations developed and changed their mathematical systems, Ifrah imparts a unique insight into the nature of human thought-and into the ways our understanding of numbers and how they shape our lives has slowly changed and grown over thousands of years.
In this illuminating and entertaining work, you'll learn about:
Praise for The Universal History of Numbers
"Let us start the year with a bang. Georges Ifrah is the man. This book, quite simply, rules. . . . It is outstanding, and not least because it has been written from first principles, for people like you and me, curious but by no means expert . . . a mind-boggling and enriching experience."-The Guardian
"Pursuing the invention of numbers across civilizations, Georges Ifrah has written the grand story of human ingenuity. . . . His amazing undertaking, describing humankind's relationship with numbers from Paleolithic times to the computer age, spans the world from Mayan ruins to Indian museums, from Egyptian hieroglyphics to Greek philosophers to Chinese libraries."-Le Figaro
"Follow the astonishing path of Georges Ifrah, the Indiana Jones of arithmetic . . . who decided in 1974 to begin the search for his Grail, the origin of numbers. Journeying over mountains and across valleys, he discovered how-from Mayan to Chinese, from Indian to Egyptian-humankind has juggled numbers."-Express
"Ifrah's book amazes and fascinates . . . It is nothing less than thehistory of the human race told through figures."-International Herald Tribune
Review: The title doesn't lie. Mathematician Georges Ifrah's masterpiece, The Universal History of Numbers, is a wonderfully comprehensive overview of numbers and counting spanning all the inhabited continents as far back in time as records will allow us to look. Beyond the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, and Indians, Ifrah takes us farther south into Africa to examine an early decimal counting system and into ancient Mexico to reconstruct what we can of the Mayan calendar and numerical system. The 27 chapters are chiefly organized by culture, though there are some cross-cultural overviews of topics like letters and numbers.
The author's aim was grand: "to provide in simple and accessible terms the full and complete answer to all and any questions ... about the history of numbers and counting, from prehistory to the age of computers." This led him to wander the world for 10 years, studying and learning; this scholastic pilgrim has returned with amazing stories to tell. Toward the end of the book, Ifrah makes the book truly universal by refuting alien-intervention theories of cultural origins--surely our benefactors would have given us an efficient decimal counting system, zero and all, before helping us build pyramids and such. Such charming ideas, combined with such rigorously researched facts, make The Universal History of Numbers a uniquely important and fascinating volume. --Rob Lightner
Title: The Universal History of Numbers: From ...
Book Condition: New
Book Description Wiley, 2000. Book Condition: Good. 1st Edition. Ships from Reno, NV. Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside. Bookseller Inventory # GRP87337354
Book Description Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, John. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Light shelving wear with minimal damage to cover and bindings. Pages show minor use. Bookseller Inventory # G0471375683I3N10
Book Description Wiley. Book Condition: Very Good. A bright, square, and overall a nice copy All orders guaranteed and ship within 24 hours. Before placing your order for please contact us for confirmation on the book's binding. Check out our other listings to add to your order for discounted shipping. Bookseller Inventory # WAL-C-5e-000330
Book Description Book Condition: Acceptable. May have some shelf-wear due to normal use. Bookseller Inventory # 0KVBKG003MDK
Book Description Wiley, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: Very Good-. Softbound covers. Some wear to the edges.; 10 X 9 X 2 inches; 656 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 27965
Book Description JOHN WILEY & SONS, 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. HARDCOVER Legendary independent bookstore online since 1994. Reliable customer service and no-hassle return policy. Science and Mathematics>Mathematics>Popular Surveys and Recreational. Book: USED, Good. Dust Jacket: Good. Bookseller Inventory # 01978047137568522. Bookseller Inventory # 01978047137568522
Book Description U.S.A.: Wiley, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. 1st Edition. The dust cover has a slight tear on the lower right of the front and a similar slight tear on the back. The book itself is unmarked except for two instances of underlining. The book is heavy so please inquire as to shipping cost. Bookseller Inventory # ABE-18813460005
Book Description John Wiley & Sons, Inc., U.S.A., 2000. Soft cover. Book Condition: Very Good+. First Edition Thus. Translated from the French. Scarce soft cover copy. No writing. History of numbers and counting in different cultures. Clean pages. Tight binding. Soft cover faintly worn. This is a nice copy. 633 pp. Smoke-free environment. Careful packing and prompt shipping. Satisfaction guaranteed. Bookseller Inventory # 003059
Book Description John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1999. Oversized Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. History of counting and calculating since the cave dwellers. Bookseller Inventory # 1432722
Book Description New York, etc.: John Wiley & Sons, 1999., 1999. Hardcover. Book Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. 1st Edition. First Edition in English (1st French ed., 1994). xxii, 634 pp; figs. Original cloth, large square 8vo. Near Fine, in near fine dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # 17897