The term abacus comes from the Greek word ábax, which literally means “table to count”, although some sources claim that it comes from the Hebrew word abad, translated as dust. What is Abacus?
Both etymologies have something in common, as it is believed that in the past, basic mathematical operations were performed on a table with accumulated dust and through which graphic symbols or ticks were noted for counting.
It should be noted that the use of numbers known today, that is, Arabic numerals, appeared in the 10th century and the symbols + and – appeared in the 15th century.
The abacus was invented in China in AD 190. Ç
In its origin this mathematical calculation instrument was made of wood. Some moving parts were placed on boards with different rods; these pieces moved to perform arithmetic operations. With this device it is possible to count numbers and perform additions, subtracts, multiplications and divisions. It can be said that this utensil was the first calculator used by human beings.
Although its use is minority in the education system , it is still used in countries like China, Japan and Korea. From the point of view of mathematics didactics , it is a useful tool to understand the importance of the position of the digits and the meaning of basic operations. In recent years, the abacus has become fashionable as an educational toy for children. What is Abacus?
Several ways to calculate
In many circumstances of everyday life we have a need to calculate. If the operation is simple, we can do it mentally.
When a child is first learning calculus, he is likely to use his fingers to count.
In case an operation is of certain complexity, there are several alternatives for resolution: the use of paper and pencil to do the typical calculations, knowing how to use the calculator, as well as the abacus.
In the Inca culture , a system of ropes and knots, known as a quipu, was used. With this procedure the Incas performed all kinds of calculations related to everyday life.
The blind and mathematical calculations
Currently, blind people are able to use electronic devices with voice to perform mathematical operations. However, this technology is relatively new and these people have to resort to other strategies to perform the calculations. What is Abacus?
In teaching for the blind, the abacus has been a fundamental tool for learning arithmetic , since through touch it is possible to move the balls of the sticks following certain rules and thus performing any operation.