Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics [NOOK Book]

Overview

The mathematics of ancient Egypt was fundamentally different from our math today. Contrary to what people might think, it wasn’t a primitive forerunner of modern mathematics. In fact, it can’t be understood using our current computational methods. Count Like an Egyptian provides a fun, hands-on introduction to the intuitive and often-surprising art of ancient Egyptian math. David Reimer guides you step-by-step through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more. He even shows you how fractions and decimals ...

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Count Like an Egyptian: A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics

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Overview

The mathematics of ancient Egypt was fundamentally different from our math today. Contrary to what people might think, it wasn’t a primitive forerunner of modern mathematics. In fact, it can’t be understood using our current computational methods. Count Like an Egyptian provides a fun, hands-on introduction to the intuitive and often-surprising art of ancient Egyptian math. David Reimer guides you step-by-step through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and more. He even shows you how fractions and decimals may have been calculated—they technically didn’t exist in the land of the pharaohs. You’ll be counting like an Egyptian in no time, and along the way you’ll learn firsthand how mathematics is an expression of the culture that uses it, and why there’s more to math than rote memorization and bewildering abstraction.

Reimer takes you on a lively and entertaining tour of the ancient Egyptian world, providing rich historical details and amusing anecdotes as he presents a host of mathematical problems drawn from different eras of the Egyptian past. Each of these problems is like a tantalizing puzzle, often with a beautiful and elegant solution. As you solve them, you’ll be immersed in many facets of Egyptian life, from hieroglyphs and pyramid building to agriculture, religion, and even bread baking and beer brewing.

Fully illustrated in color throughout, Count Like an Egyptian also teaches you some Babylonian computation—the precursor to our modern system—and compares ancient Egyptian mathematics to today’s math, letting you decide for yourself which is better.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"History lovers will gain much more than just insight into the Egyptian mind-set. The author interleaves mathematical exposition with short essays on Egyptian history, culture, geography, mythology—all, like the rest of the book, beautifully illustrated. . . . For a lively and inquiring mind the book has a good deal to offer. It is well written, lavishly illustrated, and just awfully interesting. The book is a pleasure to hold, to browse, and to read."—Alexander Bogomolny, Cut the Knot

"You get the feeling that David Reimer must be a pretty entertaining teacher. An associate professor of mathematics at the College of New Jersey, he has taken on the task of explaining ancient math systems by having you use them. And though it's not easy, he manages to lead you, step by step, through a hieroglyphic based calculation of how many 10-pesu loaves of bread you can make from seven hekat of grain."—Nancy Szokan, Washington Post

"An interesting combination of history, ancient literature and mythology, arithmetic puzzles and mathematics, and lavishly illustrated with numerous colour diagrams, this engaging book is unusual, thought-provoking and just plain fun to read."—Devorah Bennu, GrrlScientist, The Guardian

"Count Like an Egyptian is a beautifully illustrated and well-written book. . . . Reimer's overriding goal is to demonstrate that Egyptian fraction arithmetic is fascinating, versatile, and well suited for whatever calls fractions into existence. . . . By working through the material Reimer patiently and gently presents, the reader will have a more thorough understanding and appreciation of how Egyptian scribes made the calculations needed to administer an empire bent on building pyramids and granaries, surveying flooded riverside property, digging irrigation basins, and rationing or exchanging bread and beer supplies amongst its gangs of workers. . . . This book should find a home in libraries used by middle school and high school mathematics teachers. It also provides a good resource for mathematics education professors and their students on the college level as they explore historical beginnings of mathematical ideas, make cultural comparisons, and develop interdisciplinary connections."—Calvin Jongsma, MAA Reviews

"An interesting combination of history, ancient literature and mythology, arithmetic puzzles and mathematics, and lavishly illustrated with numerous colour diagrams, this engaging book is unusual, thought-provoking and just plain fun to read."—GrrrlScientist

"This amusing popular introduction to an uncommon subject is a mental adventure that sheds new light on the thought processes of a lost civilization and will appeal both to those who enjoy mathematical puzzles and to Egyptophiles."—Edward K. Werner, Library Journal

Library Journal
07/01/2014
After studying a translation of the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and developing competency by working through the exercises, Reimer (mathematics, Coll. of New Jersey) began teaching Ancient Egyptian mathematics to his students, and he now shares his enthusiasm for the subject with the general public. Unlike Richard J. Gillings's 1982 book Mathematics in the Time of the Pharaohs, which presents a scholarly analysis of the principle primary sources, Reimer's volume is intended for a wider readership; he includes "stories, analogies, and jokes in an attempt to bring the subject alive." He succeeds in a step-by-step exposition of Egyptian whole numbers, fractions, and computational operations in chapters prefaced by discussions of relevant topics in Egyptian culture that include many practice solutions. While modern mathematics consists of three systems (decimal, standard fractions, and mixed fractions), the Egyptian version used a unified system for calculation and did not rely on the memorization of multiplication tables. VERDICT This amusing popular introduction to an uncommon subject is a mental adventure that sheds new light on the thought processes of a lost civilization and will appeal both to those who enjoy mathematical puzzles and to Egyptophiles.—Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400851416
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 307,601
  • File size: 28 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

David Reimer is associate professor of mathematics at The College of New Jersey.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction ix
Computation Tables xi
1 Numbers 1
2 Fractions 13
3 Operations 22
4 Simplification 55
5 Techniques and Strategies 80
6 Miscellany 121
7 Base-Based Mathematics 144
8 Judgment Day 182
Practice Solutions 209
Index 235

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