

Long Division Developer
Name: Anya
Status: student
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A
Question:
Who invented long division, or just fractions, or multiplication?
Who figured out that these thing worked? Like long subtraction: Borrowing from
one number making it one less, then putting a 1 in front of the next number and
just reading it as if 1 is part of the number. It seems like it would take a
life time to figure all this out and then to experiment with it, test it, and
find out that there were no flaws, and then to start applying it to real life
things. What genius invented this, discovered this, because he WAS a genius.
And most people do not even know his name. But I want to, and that is my
question.
Replies:
Henry Briggs, an English mathematician (15611630), developed the method we
commonly use now to do long division, but there really is not one genius
responsible for the things you ask about. Fractions based on 10's, 100's, etc.
were used in the Indus Valley more than 4000 years ago. Egyptians used fractions
with ones in the numerators about 4000 years ago. Mathematicians often build on
the work of predecessors. Sure, sometimes a single "genius" develops a totally new
idea, but many times a new idea or new way of doing things is an improvement on an
old one. I hope this helps!
Dr. Eric A. Hagedorn
University of Texas, El Paso
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Update: June 2012

