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Suggest 3 possible wiki links for Abacus.[edit]

An automated Wikipedia link suggester has some possible wiki link suggestions for the Abacus article:

  • Can link upper deck: than seven rods. There are two beads on each rod in the upper deck and five beads each in the bottom for both decimal and hexa... (link to section)
  • Can link decimal system: ...nese abacus, because these beads are redundant when used in decimal system. That makes the Japanese '''soroban''' (算盤) m... (link to section)
  • Can link mathematical functions: ... [[visual impairment]]s. They use an abacus to perform the mathematical functions [[multiplication]], [[division]], [[addition]], [[subtracti... (link to section)

Notes: The article text has not been changed in any way; Some of these suggestions may be wrong, some may be right.
Feedback: I like it, I hate it, Please don't link toLinkBot 11:30, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)


I've removed a section with the following content:

A computer is an automatic electronic abacus. Some early computers used ten switching elements per numeral, but a modern computer is a binary abacus.

We all know that an abacus is a computing machine, but to say that an electronic computer is an abacus is going too far, imho. This would require a definition of the word "abacus" that is hopelessly too general. Then is an electronic calculator also an abacus? How about my iPod? My cellphone? The space shuttle?

I'd like for some comparisons to the computer to be made, but not blanket meaningless statements like "the computer is an abacus". --Staecker 29 June 2005 20:59 (UTC)

Opinions on the earliest date of the Chinese abacus[edit]


Binary abacus and day of the week algorithm[edit]

The example recently added to the binary abacaus section seems to be going way off topic, all sorts of things can be calculated on the abacus, why do we need this? I don't see why this is particularly relevant either to the binary abacus, the text says itself it can be done on any abacus (really it can be done on any calculator whatsoever). Also, it is not really very intelligible to anyone who does not already understand the algorithm. I propose to delete it. SpinningSpark 11:21, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Just ran into it, and I completely agree. Proposal seconded. Drabkikker (talk) 18:57, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Done. I completely forgot I had proposed this in January. It seems no one else is interested. I have also removed the sentence "Thus, each row may be used to represent an octal digit" (inserted by the same author at the same time). This makes little sense with the pictured abacus which has rows of 13 binary digits. Hardly octal, not even a multiple of octal. SpinningSpark 21:05, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Perfect, thanks! Drabkikker (talk) 21:59, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 12 November 2015[edit]

Ziah lyn (talk) 06:47, 12 November 2015 (UTC) i need it.. please..

The request, and hopefully useful to all users, is: To simply undo the 30 June 2015 edit removing the Binary Abacus example for blind users by an editor who evidently is neither blind nor knowledgeable of how it works, and is explicitly biased in allowing only any like-minded editor to be judge & jury of his motion. If this is standard operating procedure, it is an argument against donating to Wikipedia. Neither one caught that the subsection text contradicts the cited article in which the beads are arranged in columns, whereby each column is a power of 2, to yield three separate columns, not rows. Thus, each row does represent an octal digit. Those editors don't understand what octal is, as is evident from the statement "This makes little sense with the pictured abacus which has rows of 13 binary digits."

Please note that the article's misinformation as it stands is being attacked, and so is not ad hominem. This above sentence is obviously wrong, as is the last sentence in the section which ought to say that the beads are on "parallel wires arranged in 13 separate rows (of THREE binary digits)." Furthermore, octal = three binary digits. Thus the example was appropriate, and not only sourced, but consistent with Good's article, which the editors evidently couldn't be bothered to read carefully, let alone inspect the picture--which is for an octal abacus! Finally, the denial of the request to add back the example typifies wikipedia's indifference to blind users, which would not have happened, were the editors blind, making this a valid criticism. And when blind users make requests, they are made to conform to needless criteria--which only serves to discourage them from using wikipedia.

If you're confused, think of how much worse it is for blind users who must use Braille terminals that display only one line of text at a time. It's wikipedia that needs to adapt to be more user-friendly, and stop acting as if their rules are more important than providing a public service, or as if editors are entitled to justify decisions upon a fallacious "appeal to ignorance" to the detriment of a minority facing enough difficulties without wikipedia compounding them--which should be a consideration for keeping its tax-exempt status.

Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 12:46, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
I have no opinion on the merit of this suggestion, but I don't think it is fair to discard it for being imprecise. The suggestion is to undo this edit: [4] - an edit that as of today can be undone. The edit summary says that edit was "per talk", which must refer to this discussion: [5].-- (talk) 12:46, 1 January 2016 (UTC)
The proposal was edited and reopened after it had been rejected so the original rejection was perfctly fair. The removed material is unsourced, it is unclear why this particular calculation is especially interesting to the abacus article, and it is further irrelevant as an octal algorithm in a section on the binary abacus. Whether or not the pictured abacus can be used for octal calculations, it is clearly not intended for that as can be seen by the annotation taped to it. I have no idea why my not being blind disqualifies me here, but if the editor wants my help he will need to be a lot more polite. SpinningSpark 13:39, 1 January 2016 (UTC)

User:Ziah lyn, or whatever anonymous IP you are editing from, please stop editing your posts above after they have been replied to. You are confusing the hell out of everyone. Make a new post below if you must, but leave the old ones alone. SpinningSpark 18:01, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. To Ziah lyn, K6ka,  and Spinningspark: After reading this and the previous discussion and reviewing the decribed edit, my own opinion is that the removed text from the Binary abacus section was too technical and unencyclopedic for this article. I could be wrong, and if an agreement to return the text to the article is garnered, then I would be happy to abide by that consensus.  Be prosperous! Paine  17:31, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

For the record, I have no strong opinion in the matter as I have not looked closely into its substance, but I tend to agree with Paine. The editor making the suggestion seems to be unwilling or unable to comply with basic editing principles such as refraining from disrupting the talk page by inserting text in places that makes it impossible to follow the discussion without studying the history of the talk page. Unless the editor makes a better effort at explaining him/herself, or unless someone feels inclined to support his/her case, I think the suggestion should be discarded.-- (talk) 09:10, 29 January 2016 (UTC)


I am not an expert on this subject, but am concerned that some of the sections reference Ifrah as their only source. Reviews of his work cite many inaccuracies, and I would treat his books as unreliable sources. See for example this review in The Review of Modern Logic and this one in the Notices of the AMS.


After my deletion of the addition of Europe as a place where abaci are in current use was reverted, it struck me that at least until recently, abaci were in fact used in Russia, Ukraine and possibly other Eastern European countries. But sources are still needed to include this, and perhaps writing "Eastern Europe" would make sense.-- (talk) 11:59, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

We need sources, as you say, and a discussion in the body of the article. It is of course still used a bit in most countries by some ethnic groups, but nonetheless its use has virtually died out in Western (at least) Europe.p.77. It was never popular in North America. Doug Weller talk 13:01, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Use in Russia notwithstanding (and by the way, most of Russia is in Asia by land area) it is entirely incorrect to state that the abacus is "still widely used by merchants, traders and clerks in Europe". I have now fully reverted the whole series of edits by user:Raguks which are all dubious to some extent or other as I explained in the edit summary. SpinningSpark 14:33, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
I wonder, are abaci in fact widely used in Africa and Asia today? I recall seeing in China (and in Ukraine and Japan, actually) around 1987-1992 that abaci were often present in shops or other places where simple calculations were needed, but few employees were actually proficient in their use. So I imagine their use has declined rapidly since - and wonder if there are updated sources (or even just eyewitnesses among wikipedians) that say otherwise.
PS. Is Russia European? Historically, yes, mostly so, I think. Geographically, mostly Asia. Demographically, 78% live in Europe, but Slavs can be seens as separate from as well Europeans as Asians. As I said, "Eastern Europe" is where abaci have been in widespread use in recent times.-- (talk) 15:18, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Abacus is not from India. Indians do not use it because they don't need to. In fact Europeans used it the most until decimal system arrived from India via Arabs. Saying Abacus is widely used in Asia is saying Europe has somehow moved ahead. The truth is Europe was stuck in Abacus until decimal system arrived from India. To say Indians still use it doubly wrong. Italian merchants used abacus, they learnt Indian system from Arabs. This is all clearly recorded even within Wikipedia. Calling something dubious without reading wiki itself is lazy. Russia, India, China all form Asia? And a place as big as India is a continent. These areas should be addressed separately as Russia, India, China etc. That is for some other day. Also, you need to provide proof/citation for its use in India. No support can be given for no use.

~rAGU (talk)

Abacus and India[edit]

@Doug Weller: Sorry to pick this up so long after the event, but I have been away from Wikipedia for quite a while. This concerns the claim that the Abacus was never used in India and this is a result of the Hindu invention of the modern numerals. In this edit summary you pointed out that Boyer and Merzbach's A History of Mathematics is alleged to be the source of the information. As this book happens to be on my bookshelf, I thought I would share what it has to say. Although it discusses the abacus extensively, nowhere does it say that it was not used in India, let alone propose a reason for this.

They also say some interesting things about the symbol for zero, casting doubt on whether this was truly a Hindu invention. They say the earliest verified occurence in India is 876, quite a late date, and

It is not even established that the number zero (as distinct from a symbol for an empty position) arose in conjunction with the other nine Hindu numerals. It is quite possible that the zero originated in the Greek world, perhaps at Alexandria, and that it was transmitted to India after the decimal positional system had been established there.

— Boyer & Merzbach


The new numeration, which we generally call the Hindu system, is merely a new combination of three basic principles, alll of ancient origin: (1) a decimal base; (2) a positional notation; and (3) a ciphered form for each of the ten numerals. Not one of these three was due originally to the Hindus, but it is presumably due to them that the three were first linked to form the modern system of numeration.

— Boyer & Merzbach

I haven't looked to see if this requires any change to the article, but at least I have put the information out there. SpinningSpark 10:33, 30 May 2016 (UTC)

Hi User:Spinningspark. Thanks for finding that out. So he was wrong. The other source I left in doesn't seem to support the text either. Doug Weller talk 15:28, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
I wouldn't go so far as to say that user Raguks is categorically wrong, but at the moment we have no source verifying that the abacus was absent from India due to the invention of the Hindu counting system. If there is no verifiable connection, I still maintain that singing the praises of the Hindu system (although I agree it is a great invention) is going off-topic for the abacus article. SpinningSpark 15:49, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. I thought that there was a link that mentioned Boyer and Merzbach, but I don't have time to reconstruct my original search. Thanks though for this. Doug Weller talk 18:24, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure what the quoted line
"It is not even established that the number zero (as distinct from a symbol for an empty position) arose in conjunction with the other nine Hindu numerals."
really says. I see that "zero" is (at least) two distinct thing: (i) A glyph representing an empty position in a positional numeral system (which it makes sense to consider together with the glyphs representing the other possible values for a position), and (ii) a number in one of the sequences ...,-2,-1,0,1,2,3,... or 0,1,2,3,..., or in the set of real numbers. Well, I can only makes sense of the quote like this: "Yes of course the glyph arose in context with glyphs for 1-to-9, but the number may have arisen sooner or later, in an altogether different context.-- (talk) 20:26, 30 May 2016 (UTC)