Talk:Arabic numerals

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Difference between Arabic numerals and Hindu-Arabic numerals[edit]

There is a clear difference between Western Arabic Numerals (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) and Hindu-Arabic or Hindu numerals (٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎).

It is incorrect to refer to the 0-9 numeral system as anything but Arabic numerals. This was developed by Muslims. The Hindu-Arabic or Hindu numerals look different as you can see (٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎).

Please remove the word "Hindu-Arabic" and "Hindu" when describing Arabic numerals. There is nothing Hindu about the 0-9 Arabic numeral system. Although some might argue that it was influenced by the Hindu-Arabic or Hindu numerals, it is clearly different. Please see the following link for the CLEAR difference: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:06, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

It is clear from the article itself that "The digits 1 to 9 in the Hindu-Arabic numeral system evolved from the Brahmi numerals". And any layman can say that it is very similar to (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) which some people are saying as "Arabic" Numerals. The Arabs on the other hand call (٠‎ - ١‎ - ٢‎ - ٣‎ - ٤‎ - ٥‎ - ٦‎ - ٧‎ - ٨‎ - ٩‎) as Hindu numerals. This numeral they use has very less resemblance to 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Probably the Arabs can tell better why they call it Hindu numerals. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:33, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Note: I fixed the terms above "Arabic Numerals" into more precise terms "Western Arabic Numerals".
Because those writing in the Arabic language use the two variants, depending on the area : a western variant, and an Eastern variant.
Then later, the Persian empire developed another Eastern variant (used today in the Persian/Farsi language of Iran, or in the Urdu language in India.
It is not really clear about which Eastern variant the muslims are refering to when they call these digits "Hindu digits", but most probably there's an influence of an historic conflicts between Arabic peoples and Persians on their influence on Islam (as well as the two major schools of the religion between Shiites, dominated by Persian influence, and Sunnites dominated by the Arabic influence). To avoid this division, both may refer their numerals as "Hindu" (despite most Hindus are in fact using other digits in at least a dozen of variants !)
It is the Western Arabic variant that was borrowed for use in Europe (in Western Europe by Arabic peoples via Spain; in Southern and Eastern Europe via the Ottoman Empire) to replace the Roman numerals.
But to make things even more ambiguous, the Muslims speaking Arabic are calling the Western Arabic digits used now everywhere in Europe as "Roman digits" (they don't want to name our Roman digits, as their origin in the Latin paganism is completely opposed to the Islamic principles, even though the Ottoman Empire, as well as many Turkic peoples elsewhere in Central Asias, adopted the Latin script without problem, in opposition to the Cyrillic alphabet used by the previous oppressors of the Russian Empire !), probably for the same reason as for the Eastern Arabic digits : to avoid the division of Arabic peoples and of Islam !!! verdy_p (talk) 03:53, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

Arab numerals[edit]

Are 12345 etc used in arab countries today? It says in Eastern Arabic numerals that those numerals are used in Egypt, and on Arabic_script#Numerals that North Africa uses 123, but what about the other arab countries? -- Astrokey44|talk 04:58, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

hindu arabic, indo arabic, or hindu muslim[edit]

this argument is stupid. Arabs learned this numbers from Persians who in turn learn from Indians. so it is correct for Arabs to call it Hindu numerals. And Europeans learn it from arabs so they mistakenly call it arab numericals. the appearence of numbers might changed along the way but the fact remains aslphabets 0 to 10 originated to india and spread other word like it or not it is indian numerals. give credit where it is due.

I find you comments disturbing. For one thing, it is not the job of Wikipedia editors to reform the English language, nor to abuse the Wikipedia to further a political agenda. Second of all, Arabic numerals did not have a single time or place of origin, but evolved in stages. Even though many of those stages occurred in India, the numerals did not originate there, a fact that scholars discovered in the 19th century. The earliest Brahmi numerals, the archetypes of which can be found in the Asoka inscriptions, were the cursive forms of the Saka numerals developed by Buddhist scribes in Central Asia. Scholars are still divided over the question of whether the development of these numerals was indigenous to the Saka, or if they were borrowed from another culture. Even though there is no clear consensus, most scholars tend to lean towards the hypothesis that Saka numerals were modified from the Aramaic, the same source as Brahmi script. Zyxwv99 (talk) 15:31, 23 May 2012 (UTC)
number zero was first used as number in india. if u look at devanagari scripts and arabic scripts neither both show resemblence to modern numericals. modern numbers descends from both from spain when it was ruled by arabs. since arabs generally use eastern arab numericals..and modern numerical are less common among them, the word "arab" should be droped;. why not say "modern numericals" to avoid confusion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sureshnaidu (talkcontribs) 12:09, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

Urdu numerals[edit]

The numerals are wrong for Urdu. Urdu doesnt use that 4. The Urdu 4 looks more like the heart symbol <with the point downwards>, chopped in half <We use the left? half, can't remember been too long> with a line from what was the cusp extending up. It's hard to find the symbol on the net, however when I learnt Urdu numerals, we used that instead of the Persian four. This symbol, I havent been able to find even in Unicode. Other than that Urdu writes numerals left-to-right and words right-to-left, this is a holdover from British Raj.

This is true... Urdu uses the Persian variant of the Eastern Arabic digits... but peoples of Arabic culture (in Arabia) use another Eastern variant, that they think is the purest variant. Anyway, Mahomet apparently did not know those digits (none of the three variants), so Arabic digits have appeared only very late in the Coran, to add numbers to verses as annotations. There are no numbers in the Coranic verses.
In summary there are THREE variants of Arabic digits :
  • The Western Arabic set of digits (0-9 as used in Europe and now in most of the world), named "Roman digits" by Arabic speaking muslims, but preferably "Euro-Arabic" digits. These digits are normally not used within texts written in the Arabc script.
  • Two Eastern Arabic sets of digits (both named "Hindu digits" by muslims:
    • The Central Arabic digits (used in Arabia and by Sunnites) (those digits are named "Hindu" digits by muslims).
    • The Persian-Urdu Eastern Arabic digits (used in Iran, Pakistan and many South Caucasian peoples, and by shiites)
verdy_p (talk) 04:15, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

Remove "hindu" from Arabic-Hindu[edit]

I have never seen this term used except here. Ok, hindu\indian origins can be achnowleged in the article but keep refering to them as "arabic-hindu" numerals is clearly a political aganda and POV. "Danish" at coffee shops did not origin in Denmark but is not called "Danish-Italian-Scandavian" whatever.

Me neither, since the term in use is Hindu-Arabic, not Arabic-Hindu, which I've never seen in use. deeptrivia (talk) 06:09, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I've seen it as "Hindu-Arabic" for the past 30 years here in the United States. I call that "common usage"! Rapparee71 (talk) 18:47, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Which part of the States do you live in? I've never seen "Hindu-Arabic" or "Arabic-Hindu" ever. Always just "Arabic numerals" though everyone acknowledges the Arabs got the system from Indians. And how do we even know they were Hindus and not Buddhists? Wouldn't it be Indo-Arabic to begin with? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:16, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

FYI, the word Hindu only acquired religious connotations after the 18-19th century. It is derived from the the name the river Sindhu and meant "Indian" before that; especially used by the Persians and the Arab traders. All the three terms are in common usage, but you will be more used to one of the terms depending up on the part of the world you come from. Arjuncodename024 18:19, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

The Arab numerals used in north Africa and then in the rest of the world were invented by the famous Muslim mathematician al-Khwarizmi (known as the father of computing because he invented the algorithmic system), the Arabic numerals were based on the numbers of af angles in each number while the zero is round (no angles) and then have nothing to do with India or Hindu. the Hindu-Arabic numerals are those used in the middle east and have nothing to do with what you are using in the states you may see this link for the Arabic numerals — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:34, 8 March 2012 (UTC)


is correct. Hindu is a religion, since Arabs were Muslim then it ought to be 'Hindu-Muslim' Numerals. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:06, 15 November 2008 (UTC)


Did Europeans get the numerals from the Arabs or the Persians? The intro makes this point unclear (and possibly conflates Arabs & Persians). Ashmoo 06:03, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

From Arabs. I'll check if there's any confusion in the intro. deeptrivia (talk) 06:09, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

The Europeans got the numerals from al-Aldalus: the Muslim State under Arab rule(the actual Spain and Portugal). So, no confusion between Arabs Persians even the one who invented them was form the a Persian region (the actual Uzbekistan). Because at that time: there were no persian or Arabic state, there were only the Muslim state (because Islam rejects the ethnic and racial classifications).

why the word Arabic instead of Muslim numerals? this is because when the Castiles invaded al-Andalus and made the Spanish kingdom, they did their best to annihilate Islam. It was more fitting for them to call the numerals as Arabic rather than Islamic. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:50, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

All languages have words that don't make sense. The Spanish flu didn't come from Spain, Dutch ovens aren't really Dutch, and German measles did't really come from Germany. The Wikipedia should not be used to crusade for the reform of the English language. Zyxwv99 (talk) 15:29, 8 March 2012 (UTC)

Angle explanation for glyphs?[edit]

Sorry if I've missed it in the article - but when I was a kid, I read in the "how and why wonder book of mathematics" that the glyphs for "Arabic numerals" was based on the number of angles within the glyph; the following article Arabic Numerals gives an illustration of this concept.

Is this total bunkum? I'm hoping not as I've trotted it out to many people over the years. And if not - should it be in this article (and/or the numerous others that seem to touch on this topic)? Dugo 01:19, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

I found the explanation for the "7' figure the funniest. deeptrivia (talk) 05:11, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Are you talking about the hook at the top, or the cross? French and German speakers cross their sevens (and often their Z's), so if the cross is the funny part - there's about 150 million people doing it every day. The germans also draw big loops on the bottom of their 9's
Crossed 7
Crossed Z
Dugo 12:27, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Angle # 1 and 7 in "7" are real cute attempts to fit everything in the hypothesis. 13:51, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps people ought to try to understand each other's points here. There is nothing particularly "cute" or "funny" about the way Germans and others write certain numerals, but if these hooks and crosses are relatively modern (which I think they are), of course they cannot be invoked when explaining the origins of the glyphs.--Niels Ø 16:39, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
Sure, Niels Ø. Nothing serious here. Just wanted to say that I've never seen a 7 with a horizontal line at the bottom (like shown on this homepage referred above). I completely appreciate the importance of understanding different points of view, but notability is also one of our concerns. I personally always cross my Zs and 7s, so it's not that I'm ridiculing the Germans and French for doing that (I didn't even know that crossing is believed to be more prevelant in those countries -- we do it all the time in India.) deeptrivia (talk) 17:55, 10 July 2006 (UTC)
So that's basically my question; is it all hooey? This link gives a "7" and a "9" that more accurately reflects what I saw written in my childhood maths book - and are more credible than the tripod link. German handwritten 9's are extremely close to this figure, and the foot on the "7" seems more believable than the admittedly peculiar constructs on the tripod link. (When posing the question, I found the tripod link for illustrative purposes - and did not read beyond "6" as "1-6" all agreed with memory - so mea culpa there.)
So I'd rather know that it is indeed all crud (conveniently reverse-engineered as deeptrivia suggests) and never repeat it - or know that there is a grain of truth in it.
Aside/Trivia: Discussing this with someone yesterday, they said that when they grew up in Ireland/UK in the 1930s - a crossed seven were always referred to as "a French seven". Dugo 13:38, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
I always learnt with this angle stuff too. Anyway, even more stupid trivia for cut sevens: When God said "7. You shall not commit adultery.", Moses wrote it with a non-crossed seven, but someone started shouting "Cut the seven! Cut the seven!" (to remove it from the list), and so he did cut it, that's why it has this cutting stroke in the middle... Lol... 04:37, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Just checked out Ifrah's book on the history of numbers, which is a 600 page comprehensive book. It contains half a dozen theories like this (including this) under a section on "Fanciful Explanations for hte origin of "Arabic" numerals" which have long been rejected. This one comes from a Spaniard Carlos Le Maur (1778). These explanations, the book says "are flawed because they are the fruit of the pseudo-scientific imaginations of men who are fooled by appearances and who jump to conclusions which completely contradict both historical facts and the results of epigraphic and palaeographic research". It's a pity that some schools still teach this angle stuff! deeptrivia (talk) 00:06, 9 January 2007 (UTC)


Since when is it considered that arabic numerals are "Western" or "European" we may adapt them but it doesn't mean we made them.

Let's hold off on deleting these headers for a bit. There seems to be at least two editors (myself and User:FayssalF) who are concerned with this blanking. Thanks. Kukini 02:18, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Latest explanation about the origin of the “Arab numerals”[edit]


File:وهدَفي حسابْ.gif
وهدَفي حسابْ

—The preceding unsigned image was added by Calcul (talkcontribs) 17:39, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

According to a popular tradition, still tough in Egypt and North Africa, the “Arab” figures would be the invention of a glazier geometrician originating in the Maghreb, which would have imagined to give to the nine significant figures an evocative form depending on the number of the angles contained in the drawing of each one of them: an angle for the graphics of figure 1, two angles for figure 2, three angles for the 3, and so on:


We will have the following format:


This remained after nine and zero as they are. Make turn around eight, six, five, four, three and one. Reverse number two and the figure of seven. The delivery of some of these forms to each other, without change in the arrangement, we get this form:


This is an Arabic sentence meaning: My goal is calculation (وهدَفي حسابْ) in Kufi line (This name called on all lines, which tend to location and engineering). With that zero is the stillness.

In this ancient manuscript, we find the number two of its original form.


To return at Alphabetic numerals Abjad we find that seven letters of this sentence وهدَفي حسابْ is units in the table of Abjad numerals (The Abjad numerals are a decimal numeral system which was used in the Arabic-speaking world prior to the use of the Arabic numerals). This is not a coincidence. Since the Abjad numerals were often employed to record the history of the events, the value of the sentence وهدَفي حسابْ is the date of the invention of these figures. 6+5+4+80+10+8+60+1+2 is 176. 176 hijri is 792, history very appropriate to put these figures. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 06:42, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

This "explanation" appears to be a) original research, b) in conflict with the information presented in the article's existing information/images showing the evolution of these symbols, and c) largely incoherent in both grammar and content. Please do not add your image again without discussing it here first. Ruyn 14:09, 30 May 2007 (UTC)
You can see well that the image takes place here for a long time and proves in a scientific explanation that Arabic numerals are Arabic.--Manssour 17:48, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
OMG. Just finished removing this joke from wikipedias in a dozen languages. deeptrivia (talk) 06:11, 22 June 2007 (UTC)
This image was added here To complement the theme : Angle explanation for glyphs? and You(deeptrivia) are not here responsible for all wikipedia.--Manssour 08:35, 1 July 2007 (UTC)
If you think that this image is a joke, what will you tell about these images? 123456789--Manssour 08:27, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Medieval Arabic numbers[edit]

We can see the correct format and sequence of the medieval "european" numbers in title page of the book Libro Intitulado Arithmetica Practica by Juan de Yciar, the Basque calligrapher and mathematician, Saragossa 1549, and at Filippo Calandri, De Arithmetica, Florença: Lorenzo Morgiani and Johannes Petri, 1491-92, page 145. The figures shows the calligraphical place value of: one 1, two 2, three 3, fuor 4, five 5, six 6, seven 7, eight 8, nine 9, and ten o.



Rename this article to Hindu Numerals as it originated in India and was first created by Aryabhatta. I though the whole point of Wikipedia was to make people get the right knowledge, but the correct title is not correct.

It's a good thing the second paragraph is there, else the reader may forget that they're Indian in origin, as related in the first paragraph.

The system, not the numerals. Here are the Indian numerals: ٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩. ARABIC numerals are: 0123456789. See the difference? However, both cultures count ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nmatavka (talkcontribs) 20:40, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Arabic numerals ARE NOT: 0123456789. IT is made this way by the WEST over the centuries. The original Arabic numerals are THE SAME as the Indian. And i have seen ancient Arabic text to confirm that. Why are you people that stubborn (or are just uneducated?) (talk) 14:39, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Formatting problem[edit]

Partway down the page, you have an image of the Hindu numeral system, in the section "Origins". The formatting at this point is messed up. It's got overlapping elements. I don't know enough to fix it.

Femcofounder (talk) 00:07, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Wrong information[edit]

In the introduction to the topic, it says: these numerals are called in Arabic language itself, "Hindu numerals"

This sentence is either wrong or very misleading.

In Arabic, we call the numbers that are used in the middle east "Indian Numerals", they are represented (from right to left) as: ٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩

However this term (Indian Numerals) is used to only refer to these numeral, not the ones that are used in Morrocco, North Africa, and Europe, which are: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. This form is referred to as "Arabic Numerals" in the Arab world

In other words, we refer to the numbers we use in the middle east as "Indian", and refer to the ones commonly used by North African Arabs and the rest of the world as "Arabic".

( (talk) 04:07, 20 March 2008 (UTC))

Arabic vs Hindu-Arabic numerals[edit]

Hi I undid your changes to Arabic_numerals since it makes sense to retain the name as Hindu-Arabic_numerals. Other related articles are named thus, see Hindu-Arabic_numeral_system & History_of_the_Hindu-Arabic_numeral_system. Moreover, using the term "Arabic numerals" might be misleading since arabs today use numbers that are based on the Hindu Arabic numeral system. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:03, 27 July 2008 (UTC) and copied here from User talk:Francis Schonken by Jitse Niesen (talk) 10:11, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

There are a couple of problems with your edits. Firstly, the proper procedure to retitle a page is as explained at Help:Moving a page. In particular, as it says there, "You should never just move a page by cutting all the text out of one page, and pasting it into a new one; old revisions, notes, and attributions are much harder to keep track of if you do that." Secondly, you say that other related articles are named thus, but there is a difference between Arabic numerals and the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. The "Arabic numerals" refer to the symbols 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, and that is the subject of this page. The "Hindu-Arabic numeral system" refers to the positional system with zero, which may use these symbols or similar symbols from which the symbols 0, 1, 2, etc. developed. This is explained on this very talk page. Thirdly, the key point in naming an article here is which name is used in practice. Fourthly, this has been discussed many times, on this very talk page. The last time it was decided that the page should be titled "Arabic numerals", so the onus is on you to show that there is a consensus to move the page to "Hindu-Arabic numerals" by following the procedure explained at Wikipedia:Requested moves. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 10:11, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

Arabic numerals can also refer to the numerals Arabs use to write numbers, but that is beside the point. The "cut and paste" move was done without consensus, so it must be reverted. --Joshua Issac (talk) 20:20, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

In the Middle East (Arabia), two sets of numerals are used. In Western Arabia (Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and Libya), the Arabic numerals (0123456789) are used exclusively. In the Levant, glyphs known as Indian numerals (٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩) are used as well. This is why telephones in the Levant may have two sets of numerals: --Nmatavka (talk) 20:10, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

"Which name is used in practice" is a matter of POV, and if Wikipedia is to be made non-eurocentric, we need to discuss here about the inappropriate name of this article. The numerals currently in use are not even the same that were even transferred to Europe from India by the Arabs. Arabic numerals can only means numerals used in Arabian countries or in the arabian language. (talk) —Preceding undated comment was added at 22:59, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

In the Middle East (Arabia), two sets of numerals are used. In Western Arabia (Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, and Libya), the Arabic numerals (0123456789) are used exclusively. In the Levant, glyphs known as Indian numerals (٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩) are used as well. This is why telephones in the Levant may have two sets of numerals: --Nmatavka (talk) 20:10, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

The English Wikipedia is written in the English language, so the titles of the articles are in English, so we choose the titles depending on how terms are used in the English language.
Dictionaries disagree with your last sentence. For instance, the Oxford English Dictionary says "arabic numerals: the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, etc." Languages often do not follow logic. -- Jitse Niesen (talk) 13:22, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
The OED has one illustration of "Hindu-Arabic numerals":
1911 Smith & Karpinski Hindu-Arabic Numerals iii. 45 Concerning the earliest epigraphical instances of the use of the nine symbols, plus the zero, with place value, there is some question.
It also has only one of "Arabic numerals":
1799 T. Green Diary Lover of Lit. (1810) 177 Writing, he deduces, from pictural representations, through hieroglyphics ... to arbitrary marks ... like the Chinese characters and Arabic numerals.
In definitions, only the latter is used:
cipher, v. 1. intr. To use the Arabic numerals in the processes of arithmetic; to work the elementary rules of arithmetic; now chiefly a term of elementary education.
†small figures: Arabic numerals
algorism: the Arab mathematician Abu Ja'far Mohammed Ben Musa, ... through the translation of whose work on Algebra, the Arabic numerals became generally known in Europe.
However, whereas "arabic numerals" are defined as "the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.", there is no definition for "Hindu-Arabic numerals". Note by this usage, "arabic" is in small case. This distinguishes them from "Arabic numerals" in upper case, though even the OED is not consistent here. (Note they are also not consistent about "Algebra", but we do not capitalize algebra in Wikipedia.) kwami (talk) 00:57, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
That only covered the plural form. In the singular there are a couple more. Note under uranium:
Also with following (arabic) numeral, denoting the mass number of the isotope concerned; and with following (usu. Roman) numeral or capital letter denoting an isotope of uranium or one formed by the decay of uranium.
kwami (talk) 01:04, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

I'm making another call for this article to be moved or renamed to "Hindu-Arabic numerals" in fitting with the standards laid out by Wikipedia. This is the most common usage for this subject in English. It is the spelling/capitalization used in most dictionaries and encyclopedias. And this title goes along with related articles better and better reflects the development of this numeral system. Rapparee71 (talk) 20:15, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

Move to Decimal Numerals[edit]

There has been a long debate going on as to whether this article should be named "Arabic Numerals" or "Hindu-Arabic numerals", etc.
I suggest we move the article to Decimal Numerals as that would be a lot fairer to both sides; and more technically correct. Arjun G. Menon (talk · mail) 23:54, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

But there are other decimal systems. kwami (talk) 00:43, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Since this is the most common decimal system in place, emthinks an article title "Decimal Numerals" would be well-deserved. Other decimal systems can retain whatever name they are under currently. And, there is no article Decimal Numerals which is also a good thing. Lastly, kwami; out of curiosity, I would like to know what are the other decimal systems. Arjun G. Menon (talk · mail) 02:31, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
The biggest problem is that no-one calls them "decimal numerals". If I read the phrase "decimal numerals" out of context, I would have no idea what was meant. In fact, it makes no sense: the numerals themselves are not decimal, unless by decimal you mean base ten; it is the Hindu-Arabic system which is decimal. To answer your question, you'll have to tell me what you mean by "decimal". kwami (talk) 05:31, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
The school that I went to (an Indian school - CBSE syllabus), taught 2 number systems mainly:
  • Decimal numbers
  • Roman numbers
The term "Arabic" or "Hinud-Arabic" has never ever been used in school or in any of the textbooks. I first knew of this term by reading it on the internet and not from any textbooks. I believe schools and universities and over India use the term "Decimal numbers", I don't know of a single one that uses either "Arabic", "Hindu-Arabic", "Indo-Arabic", etc. In reality I think majority of people (esp. in India) call these numerals "Decimal Numbers". Therefore the name "Decimal Numerals" which is in coherence with popular usage is much more preferable. Arjun G. Menon (talk · mail) 15:27, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
I still do not understand what you mean. Are ० १ २ ३ ४ ५ ६ ७ ८ ९ not "decimal numerals"? kwami (talk) 18:00, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
You're talking about the symbols used to represent the numbers. I'm talking about the number system itself. Why does this article contain both "٠.١.٢.٣.٤.٥.٦.٧.٨.٩" and "0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9" ? Arjun G. Menon (talk · mail) 22:35, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
You're at the wrong article. If you had bothered to read it before telling us how to "improve" it, you would know that. kwami (talk) 22:40, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
My pont is, as is that of many others; that this article is mistitled. I don't want to start another long debate on the article name, so I'll close the discussion here. Arjun G. Menon (talk · mail) 22:06, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
This debate has been made many times before. However, "Arabic numerals" is the normal English term. I personally use "Hindu-Arabic", because I think it's important to let people know their Indian roots. However, "Arabic numerals" is factually correct: These are the Maghrebi Arabic numerals. They are identical to the numerals in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, where they came from—though there may have been some mutual influence there since that time. kwami (talk) 18:40, 5 October 2008 (UTC)


One of the arguments for choosing "Arabic numerals" over "Hindu-Arabic numerals" is that this is the form found in the OED. However, that is not quite true. Although the OED is often inconsistent in capitalization ("Algorism" vs. "algorism", for example), the definition of this phrase, listed under the capitalized "Arabic", is carefully not capitalized in the OED:

Arabic, a.
1. Of or pertaining to Arabia or its language. arabic numerals: the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
2. esp. in gum arabic, which is exuded by certain species of Acacia, and arabic acid, obtained from it.

That is, the position of the OED is that "arabic numeral" should no more be capitalized than "gum arabic".

Adopting this position, besides having the authority of the world's greatest dictionary behind it, has the added benefit of disambiguating "arabic numerals" = European/ISO numerals from "Arabic numerals" = East/West Arabic numerals. It is the conflation of these two concepts that motivates the endlessly resurrected debate over whether this article should be located here or under "Hindu-Arabic numerals". Perhaps this will help resolve the debate. kwami (talk) 01:18, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Although there is a note at the end of the lead section about the capitalisation of "arabic", the varying capitalisation styles in the paragraphs preceding this -- especially in the bold terms -- still looks like random inconsistency or an oversight. The significance of capitalisation needs to be explained where the bold terms are defined. (talk) 02:53, 10 March 2009 (UTC).
And the opening sentence -- The arabic numerals, or Hindu numerals (often capitalized)... -- is also confusing since "Hindu" is already shown as capitalised. Maybe it means that "arabic" is often capitalised, but the intervening alternative name makes this unclear. (talk) 02:59, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
According to the citation in the article, the OED says to write it lowercase, but Merriam-Webster (, Random House (, New Oxford American Dictionary (the dictionary built into Mac OS X), and Encarta (the built-in dictionary in Word) all write it capitalized: Arabic numerals. Also, Word auto-corrects it to capitalized. -- tooki (talk) 12:55, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
It was always written as "Hindu-Arabic" when I was growing up in the 1970's and 1980s in textbooks and encyclopedias. And if you look in Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, you will see it written as Hindu-Arabic. It is listed as an adjective, in use since 1925. Could this be another case of dialectal differences? In American English it is "Hindu-Arabic", but in British English it's written "arabic"? Since more sources use "Hindu-Arabic", this is what we should default to. Also, since Wikipedia is an American endeavour (even though contributors come from all over the English speaking world), we should default to American English. Rapparee71 (talk) 19:59, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
I always saw it as "Arabic numerals" in my education in USA and Switzerland -- until Wikipedia, I'd never heard of them referred to as anything else. (That said, my background in this regard is grade school and basic college math, and typography. I am not a math historian.) Regardless, as should be evident from the heading my note is under: I posted to discuss CAPITALIZATION, not the terminology per se. I am arguing "arabic" vs. "Arabic", NOT "arabic" (or "Arabic") vs. "Hindu-Arabic". -- tooki (talk) 14:00, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Tooki is right! Arabic with a big 'a' is right; the Arabic numerals were invented by the Arabs, not the arabs. This is a British practice as well; the OED is somewhat peculiar in that aspect, as well as the misspelling of capitalisation as capitalization. --Nmatavka (talk) 20:16, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Requested move 2[edit]

And another thing is that this article should be entitled "Hindu-Arabic numerals". There is already an article titled "Hindu-Arabic numeral system" anyway. Do we need both? Even the Encyclopaedia Britannica has the article listed as "Hindu-Arabic system", as a sub-heading under "numeral and numeral systems". Rapparee71 (talk) 20:05, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

British English uses "arabic" instead of "Hindu-Arabic" as opposed to American English? OK, then. If you take a look at the above discussion, you will see that the page was moved to Arabic Numerals against consensus. Anyway, if you are still planning to carry on with the proposal, good luck...--Joshua Issac (talk) 22:31, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
I haven't any experience in moving an article. Whoever feels like doing it, do so. This article definitely needs to be moved ASAP. Rapparee71 (talk) 03:35, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
No, it doesn't, it's currently under what I believe to be the most widely-known term, as based on one dictionary after another. (The people voting in a wikipedia discussion page are NOT a representative sample.)-- tooki (talk) 14:00, 12 May 2009 (UTC)
Scholarly sources which talk about the numerals refer to them as Hindu-Arabic Numerals.--Joshua Issac (talk) 14:56, 12 May 2009 (UTC)


FIRST: YOU de-credit Indians, by renaming this to Arabic numerals, on top of that, there is ABSOLUTELY NO BLOODY MENTION OF ARYABHATTA IN THIS ARTICLE? --Rsrikanth05 (talk) 11:15, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Calm down, dood. Take a deep breath. Now: BOOOOOOONG HIT! Feel better? I knew you would. --Nmatavka (talk) 20:18, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
What an display of arrogance, mr or mrs Nmatavka. You surely are an admin to do that to unprivileged users. (talk) 15:11, 29 March 2010 (UTC)


The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was no consensus for move Aervanath (talk) 06:18, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I added a warning at the top of this page. Hopefully it captures the essence of the consensus. (Which, BTW, I opposed!) kwami (talk) 06:25, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

The fact remains that most reference and academic works refer to this subject as "Hindu-Arabic numerals". And as such, this should be the name of the article. It needs to be moved back to this heading. Rapparee71 (talk) 07:59, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Strong oppose, per WP:COMMONNAME. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 08:08, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
The common name is in fact "Hindu-Arabic". Most textbooks, dictionaries, and major encyclopaedias refer to this subject as such. According to the WP:COMMONNAME policy, it should be moved.Rapparee71 (talk) 07:22, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Let's not rehash the argument. It's a waste of time we could better spend elsewhere. Rapparee, I'm on your side, but this article isn't going anywhere. And it doesn't "need" anything: naming is a matter of preference, not a requirement. kwami (talk) 08:53, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

The discussion above shows that consensus was to keep the page at Hindu-Arabic numerals, but the closing administrator decided to move it any way, introducing new rules not used anywhere else on Wikipedia in order to do so.--Joshua Issac (talk) 15:23, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Agree, it appears that this article was moved to the present one against the policies of Wikipedia and against the consensus of both the majority of editors and against the majority of references. It needs to be moved back immediately, no more delay. Rapparee71 (talk) 10:24, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose WP:COMMONNAME (talk) 10:32, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
    • The common name is in fact "Hindu-Arabic". Most textbooks, dictionaries, and major encyclopaedias refer to this subject as "Hindu-Arabic numerals" and as such should be moved.Rapparee71 (talk) 07:22, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Strong Support This article was moved to the present heading without a clear consensus. It is not the common name for the numerals. Most dictionaries, encyclopaedias, and mathematics textbooks call them "Hindu-Arabic numerals". Rapparee71 (talk) 07:11, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Oppose Rapparee, you're confusing common name with academic precision. The reason Hindu-Arabic is preferred in many pedagogic and academic texts is because naive people have thought that Arabs invented the Arab numerals. Nonetheless, the common name remains Arabic numerals, as has been established numerous times above. I used to support the move, but have become convinced that "Arabic numerals" is better. 1234567890 are not used in India, except as a European colonial import. Calling 1234567890 "Hindu-Arabic" is like renaming the Roman alphabet the "Greco-Phoenician alphabet" to reflect its history. You might want to do that in a text, but the common name would remain "Roman".
As for the allegedly unjust move, I haven't reviewed it recently, but I remember being on the losing side and being unhappy with that, but not upset at any unfairness. kwami (talk) 08:18, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
To give us a ballpark figure, there are over a million Google hits for A, but only 27 thou for H-A, for a ratio of 38 to 1. As might be expected, the ratio of H-A goes up in texts, with hits at Google books being 4273 for A only, and 1136 for H-A, for a ratio of 3.8 to 1. This of course does not take into account the numerous hits that include both, but still the ratio is pretty overwhelming. kwami (talk) 08:29, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
While Google is some times a very useful tool, it is not an authority in and of itself. Rapparee71 (talk) 11:34, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
I never said it was. I was merely refuting your unsubstantiated claim that H-A is the "most common" phrasing. kwami (talk) 11:51, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
kwami, Hindu-Arabic numerals are used in India. The "Use common names of persons and things" subsection in the Naming conventions guideline says that we should "title an article using the most common name of the person or thing that is the subject of the article", "[e]xcept where other accepted Wikipedia naming conventions give a different indication". And what would this different indication be? The next subsection answers that: "Name an article as precisely as is necessary to indicate accurately its topical scope". We should be precise enough to avoid confusion with the Arabic Numerals used in the Gulf. Try finding pages talking about these Arabic Numerals (used by Arabs) in the Google search results when you search for Arabic numerals. You do not need to go beyond the first page of results.--Joshua Issac (talk) 19:03, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.
  • "'Strong Support'" I'm confusing nothing. The origins of the numeral system and the academically preferred name is the most important thing here. As an example, I quote the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Several different claims, each having a certain amount of justification, have been made with respect to the origin of modern Western numerals, commonly spoken of as Arabic but preferably as Hindu-Arabic." I have, for 30 years or more, seen it written as "Hindu-Arabic". I live in the United States of America, the birthplace of Wikipedia. Rapparee71 (talk) 18:59, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Rapparee71, I have moved your comment down here, because the vote has already closed as "no consensus", and you can't vote twice or put responses in the middle of other people's comments, although there seems to be consensus to follow that practice on this page (if you look in the archive). Thr birthplace of Wikipedia is not relevant when discussing what the title should be; we have other guidelines for that. What the sources say, however, is important.--Joshua Issac (talk) 19:05, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

I submit here, a quote from the Encyclopaedia Britannica that demonstrates not only the preferred usage of the name, but a very brief history of the development of these numerals.

“Several different claims, each having a certain amount of justification, have been made with respect to the origin of modern Western numerals, commonly spoken of as Arabic but preferably as Hindu-Arabic. These include the assertion that the origin is to be found among the Arabs, Persians, Egyptians, and Hindus. It is not improbable that the intercourse among traders served to carry such symbols from country to country, so that modern Western numerals may be a conglomeration from different sources. However, as far as is known, the country that first used the largest number of these numeral forms is India. The 1, 4, and 6 are found in the Ashoka inscriptions (3rd century BC); the 2, 4, 6, 7, and 9 appear in the Nana Ghat inscriptions about a century later; and the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 in the Nasik caves of the 1st or 2nd century AD—all in forms that have considerable resemblance to today's, 2 and 3 being well-recognized cursive derivations from the ancient = and ≡. None of these early Indian inscriptions gives evidence of place value or of a zero that would make modern place value possible. Hindu literature gives evidence that the zero may have been known earlier, but there is no inscription with such a symbol before the 9th century.
The first definite external reference to the Hindu numerals is a note by Severus Sebokht, a bishop who lived in Mesopotamia about 650. Since he speaks of “nine signs,” the zero seems to have been unknown to him. By the close of the 8th century, however, some astronomical tables of India are said to have been translated into Arabic at Baghdad, and in any case the numeral became known to Arabian scholars about this time. About 825 the mathematician al-Khwārizmī wrote a small book on the subject, and this was translated into Latin by Adelard of Bath (c. 1120) under the title of Liber Algorismi de numero Indorum. The earliest European manuscript known to contain Hindu numerals was written in Spain in 976.”
"numerals and numeral systems." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Student and Home Edition. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.Rapparee71 (talk) 19:20, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
We all know the history of the digits.
Per your suggestion, I propose that we also move Latin alphabet to Egyptian alphabet, or maybe Egypto-Latin alphabet, because the letters ABCD can be traced back to Egypt, just as the digits 1234 can be traced back to India. kwami (talk) 19:44, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Sarcasm does not become you kwami. Why do you oppose this so strongly when the facts speak for themselves? Is this a personal vendetta of some sort?Rapparee71 (talk) 19:50, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
kwami, I will support your proposition to move Latin alphabet to Egyptian alphabet (or Egypto-Latin alphabet) if, and only if you provide the reliable source which states that Egyptian alphabet (or Egypto-Latin alphabet) is preferred. Why this article should be titled Hindu-Arabic numerals has absolutely nothing to do with its roots – it is the reliable source that matters. --Joshua Issac (talk) 11:14, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

The name "Hindu-Arabic numerals" is preferred for several reasons: 1. The name "Hindu-Arabic" accurately represents the historical development of these numerals. 2. The name "Hindu-Arabic" fits the existing, related article "Hindu-Arabic numeral system", in which these numerals play a very important part. 3. The name "Hindu-Arabic" is the preferred, academically correct name. 4. The name "Hindu-Arabic" also differentiates the so-called East Arabic and West Arabic numerals from one another, avoiding confusion.

I submit these references as a representative example:

  • Webster's New World College Dictionary, 2005
  • The Hindu-Arabic Numerals by David Eugene Smith and Louis Charles Karpinski
    • "So familiar are we with the numerals that bear the misleading name of Arabic"
  • Patel, D. M. Symbols for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 0 in Sanskrit and English languages. Math. Ed. (Siwan) 15 (1981), no. 1, B1--B3. (Reviewer: Brij Mohan.) SC: 01A99 (01A32), MR: 82h:0108
  • Schaaf, William L. Mathematics as a Cultural Heritage. Arithmetic Teacher 8 (1961), 5--9.
  • Woodruff, Charles E. The Evolution of Modern Numerals from Ancient Tally Marks. American Mathematical Monthly 16 (1909), 125--33. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rapparee71 (talkcontribs) 11:29, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Rapparee's quote from the Britannica contains the reason why we do not move this article: "commonly spoken of as Arabic but preferably as Hindu-Arabic." Especially in article titles (which must be findable by those who do not already know about the subject), we are here to communicate with our readers by using the existing form of the language, not to impose what we or some authority would prefer the language to be. Our policy on that subject is at WP:NC and WP:COMMONNAMES. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:06, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
The preferred name is "Hindu-Arabic". There is no simpler way to state this. The related article is already titled "Hindu-Arabic numeral system". The simplest and best situation is to move the article back to "Hindu-Arabic numerals" and redirect from "Arabic numerals" to it. In this case, "correctness" should be favoured over "common" (highly arguable). I listed four logical arguments for moving the article, all of which are sound. The sentence in the Encyclopaedia Britannica that you semantically picked apart is but one example. Rapparee71 (talk) 15:18, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
"Correctness" should be favoured over "common" We have long since decided otherwise. You are free to form a Correctopedia; see WP:Mirrors and forks. But you will have profound difficulties in many cases deciding what the "correct" name is; it's disputable here. Without the guide of English usage, it is, we think, impossible. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:43, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
The sole argument for not moving this article is that "Arabic numerals" is more common. This is highly arguable and almost impossible to prove. However, there are several arguments for moving it that are documentable and defensible by a logical argument. Now, any neutral party with a mind for logic and fairness could see that the argument for moving it BACK to where it was is the stronger position. Why is the position for not moving is being defended so belligerently? It was moved to it's present location without a clear consensus in the first place! I've run across this several times on Wikipedia; a highly suspect edit becomes entrenched and defended to the teeth on a shaky interpretation of "policy". Logic seems to go out the window. That, is absurd. To demonstrate how ludicrous it is to judge something by what is common or commonplace can be, listen to common speech, watch television, you hear incorrect grammar and syntax all the time. Just because it is commonplace does not make it acceptable.
I propose the following solution. Move the article back to its correct title, "Hindu-Arabic numerals". Then form a redirect from "Arabic numerals" to steer people looking for the subject under the "common" term. That is for what redirects were made. Problem solved. The article retains its correct heading that reflects it's relationship to "Hindu-Arabic numeral systems" and people looking for it under the vulgar title will still find it. Rapparee71 (talk) 16:09, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
This is exactly what Rapparee71 has proposed twice before; I still oppose it. As usual, claims of "logic" amount to: WP:ILIKEIT. I would be a hair more convinced by sneers at "vulgar usage" and incorrect grammar by someone fluent enough in English to use its correctly; but only a hair. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:20, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
I have proposed it twice before because it has not been considered by those opposing the move. It's a compromise. The word "vulgar" was used to mean common, as it originally did in Latin. Your open hostility demonstrates your unwillingness to compromise, which is counter to the policy of assume good will. Whether or not I am infallible in my writing has nothing to do with the issue at stake. Inserting links to Wikipedia policy pages is pompous and just plain annoying. WP:JUSTAPOLICY It does nothing to support your position, despite what you might think.Rapparee71 (talk) 16:40, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
None of Rapparree71's sources appear to justify his/her theory that "hindu-arabic numeral" is more common than "arabic numeral". Webster's, which s/he cited, uses "hindu-arabic" as an adjective, whereas the topic in question is a noun. Indeed, Merriam-Webster points out that "Hindu-Arabic" is an adjective meaning "relating to, being, or composed of Arabic numerals" [6]. Under "Arabic numerals", Merriam-Webster gives [7]: "any of the number symbols 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9". Rapparree71, you lost. This is what, the 3rd move request in a row in the past couple weeks? Give it up already. "Consensus" doesn't mean "what Rapparree71 thinks". You're not always going to get what you want. --C S (talk) 01:59, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Content forking: Arabic numerals and Hindu-Arabic numeral system[edit]

We currently have separate articles on Arabic numerals and Hindu-Arabic numeral system, as well as one on positional notation. This is more articles than there ought to be. The distinction between (Hindu–)Arabic numerals and the numeral system seems to have been something made up on Wikipedia, to avoid debates of the sort that keep occurring on the page. This is WP:OR — our "reliable sources" don't maintain a distinction between "Arabic/Hindu-Arabic numerals" and the "numeral system", often using "Hindu–Arabic numerals"[8] or "Arabic numerals" to mean both the actual symbols and the positional system, in the sense of distinguishing this from Roman numerals (which, again, refers to both the symbols and the system).

We shouldn't separate articles and create our own compromises just to avoid debate. It would be more accurate to put everything in one article, and I hope we can undertake efforts to merge them. Shreevatsa (talk) 13:31, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

The article about the system should either redirect here, or to positional notation or decimal.--Joshua Issac (talk) 15:41, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
After a merge, yes. I didn't realise we also have articles on decimal and decimal representation.... Shreevatsa (talk) 16:18, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Positional representation has nothing to do with decimal system, or arabic numerals. If you use Suzhou numerals, you also use positional representation, and the article is not written in a way that indicates that other systems exist that use digits other than arabic. (talk) 10:42, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Oppose These are distinct concepts. What you're proposing is like merging alphabet with Latin alphabet. There is the system, and then there are the various instantiations of that system. Arabic numerals are just one; we also have articles on East Arabic, various Indian, Thai, and Khmer. Why should we have those, and not an article on the digits we use in English? Also, this has nothing to do with decimal notation! There are lots of decimal systems in the world, such as Roman and Chinese numerals, which have nothing to do with this article. And although India was the start of positional notation, it does now occur elsewhere, for example with modern Chinese numbers. kwami (talk) 17:12, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Do most sources maintain these as distinct concepts? Roman numerals and Roman numeral system are clearly distinct concepts, but we have only one article — because it is not Wikipedia's place to observe distinctions that are not in published sources. Shreevatsa (talk) 20:12, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

Hindu-Arabic numerals are the characters used in the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, a decimal numerical system. These are two separate subjects, albeit related. Rapparee71 (talk) 10:21, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Says who? (It might be true, but we shouldn't believe it without a source.) Shreevatsa (talk) 14:51, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
There is a Hindu-Arabic numeral system, but no Hindu-Arabic numerals. There are Indian numerals, which are the numerals ٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩, and the Arabic numerals, which are the numerals 1234567890. --Nmatavka (talk) 20:32, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
According to the OED, a digit is a grapheme ("figure") used for a number, which in our system is 1234567890, in Roman is IVXLCDM, etc. A numeral is (a) a word expressing a number (one, twenty, hundred, etc.) or (b) a digit. However, Arabic (Indian, Hindu-Arabic) numerals is a set phrase; *Arabic digits is not used in the OED.
Ifrah, p 10: "Our current number system is just such [a decimal system], using the following graphic signs, often referred to as Arabic numerals: 1234567890.
In other words, there is the numerical system, and then there are the figures it utilizes, just as there is the alphabetic system, and the particular letters (Greek, Roman, Armenian) that it utilizes. Ifrah also covers the history of the Indian system, starting with the figures that were used with a decimal but non-positional system, not unlike Roman numerals, and then evolving into a positional system. (Just as for example the Greek letters started out as an abjad.) That is, the Indian numerals were not always used with the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. Of course, it's common to not be explicit whether one is referring to numbers, numerals, digits, or positional systems, leaving the distinction to context. kwami (talk) 20:47, 18 May 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps some of the people here supporting this should read the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on "numerals and numeral systems", in particular, the section titled "Development of modern numerals and numeral systems". Both numerals and the positional system in which they are used are, of course related, but they are not dependent on one another. One could still use a positional system with different characters for example. The symbols, glyphs, characters (call them what you will) were developed with the positional system in which they are currently used. Rapparee71 (talk) 07:16, 21 May 2009 (UTC)
Sorry I haven't replied earlier — I was planning to read Ifrah, but haven't got around to it. Either way, let me clarify what my point was. I agree, and I understand, and I know, that a numeral system is different from the actual numerals used in it. I also know that the system that originated in India has used various sets of numerals, not just these Arabic numerals. My point was just this: we have only one article on the Roman numerals / numeral system, because no sources discuss them separately. Similarly, when sources speak of "(Hindu-)Arabic numerals", they are usually thinking of both the system and the numerals. It is true that, as you say, "one could still use a positional system with different characters", but if most sources discuss "Arabic numerals" and "Hindu-Arabic numeral system" together, we should have just one article. The problem with content-forking, in general, is that there will either be much duplication of content on the two articles, or they will each evolve to have an unbalanced focus on one aspect of the topic being discussed, like listening to a stereo broadcast using only the left audio channel! And you can see this happening: this article is in decent shape, but Hindu-Arabic numeral system and History of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system are not, and they have much duplicated content some of which could be usefully merged into (say) this article. Anyway, I don't have much more to say on this... I don't know how to make the case that two things that I know are distinct ought to be considered together. Shreevatsa (talk) 17:19, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't think a fear that other people will mess up the articles is reason for our not doing a good job. We can always add dabs at the tops of the pages: This article considers the digits themselves. For the history of the number system, see XXX. Etc. kwami (talk) 19:47, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Not a fear that other people will mess up the articles — an expectation that readers looking for one thing are also looking for the other, that they would be best served by one article that discusses all aspects. And doing a good job is exactly the purpose of discussion; it seems we disagree on what the good job would look like. :) Shreevatsa (talk) 16:49, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
We could have a separate article on Hindu-Arabic numerals, which would not cover 0123456789 specifically but the entire family of numerals. However, that might raise even more concerns about topic forking. kwami (talk) 12:20, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Why would we have a separate article on "Hindu-Arabic numerals"? It's the same thing! Moreover, what I've been saying is that it isn't valuable to discuss numerals separately from the system, and you seem to propose something that perpetuates that. I'm proposing merging articles, not splitting off even more new ones.
Here's a new question: What is the Hindu-Arabic numeral system? How is it different from positional notation or decimal or decimal representation? Shreevatsa (talk) 15:01, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
Positional and decimal are two different things. Roman numerals were decimal but not positional. Mayan were close to positional but not decimal. The Indic system was both, but also historically Indian in origin. The Chinese rods numerals were both, but not Indic in origin (not directly, at least). It's like the alphabet: it doesn't make much sense to discuss the letters apart from the alphabetic system, yet we have articles on the alphabet in general, and separate articles on each major alphabetic script. We don't need to merge Bengali, Thai, Tamil, Tibetan, Persian, and Arabic numerals just because they are cognate and use the same system, any more than we need to merge the articles on the Greek, Cyrillic, Roman, Armenian, Georgian, and runic alphabets just because they are cognate and use the same system. kwami (talk) 03:08, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
We need to make a distinction between the positional numeric notation invented by the Indians and modified by the Arabs, and the various sets of ten symbols each intended for use with that notation. There is only one set of Roman numeral symbols, so the system is treated as one article. However, there are four (that I know of!) sets of Indo-Arabic numeral symbols, including the ones popularly known as Arabic and used the world over, and the ones popularly known as Indian, and traditionally used in the Eastern part of the Middle East. Observe the distinction: 0123456789, ٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩. --Nmatavka (talk) 20:32, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
And after all of this, I still don't know what name to use for the "SCRIPT/GLYPHS" 0123456789...? I don't think this is evident in the article. I've read this a few times and what I take from it is that Arabic Numerals, as discussed above can be used for both system and character but I am under the impression that the system itself was originally written under a different set of glyphs, with no explanation (or clear one) how 0123456789 was made (the symbols). Where were these made and mapped onto the numeral system which we call arabic, or was the glyphs also made by arabs giving it is name (which I would find very odd as they don't seem to look anything like arabic writings).

I have made a small addition to the text. There is clearly a difference between the Arabic number system and Arabic digits. In many parts of the world usually the Arabic number system is used (but ocacsionally we still use Roman numbers), where the value of a digit is based on its position in a number, and a zero may be used to change the position of other digits without adding value itself. In the Arabic world they actually use different digits, but the same number system. Note that not any sequence of digits is a number. Telephone "numbers" are not actually numbers since it makes no sense to calculate with them (e.g. to add or substract telephone "numbers"). Also, leading zeros do have a meaning in telephone "numbers" but not in regular numbers. The designation "decimal" IMHO is not helpful. The binary and hexadecimal number system used by programmers share the property of the "Arabic" number system that in these systems the value of a number also depends on its position, and that they include a zero. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rbakels (talkcontribs) 12:54, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

Notice and comments[edit]

Why do we have a notice at the top of this page? Per the last discussion with consensus, the page should have been at Hindu-Arabic numerals, but the admin decided to move the page to Arabic numerals any way. So where it says that it has been decided to go with the most common name, Arabic numerals, it is necessary to make it clear that it was the admin's decision, not the community's. --Joshua Issac (talk) 15:56, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

"Per the last discussion with consensus"...I'm guessing you're referring to the discussion in Archive 2 dating back to 2005. First, consensus can change, and arguing back to 2005 isn't going to get you anywhere. Second, while Rapparee71 has been making a lot of accusations to people here of "political and personal agendas", I think it's clear to anybody stopping by here that the the 2005 discussion was pretty much hijacked by people with political and personal agendas of the kind Rapparee71 seems to be harboring. It's not surprising that Rapparee71 sees hidden agendas everywhere. People with such agendas often see it in others. On the other hand, looking at people opposing the move to "Hindu-Arabic numerals", I see a lot of appeal to common practice on Wikipedia and experience in such matters. --C S (talk) 02:08, 30 May 2009 (UTC)
It's Wiki-bullying to further a personal viewpoint. The fact of the matter is that most academic sources and even the Encyclopaedia Britannica (a work that this endeavour started out emulating) state that the preferred name is "Hindu-Arabic". Someone with administrator privileges needs to kill the redirect from "Hindu-Arabic numerals" to "Arabic numerals" and then move the page back to "Hindu-Arabic numerals. It should have never been moved to this page in the first place. Anyone know an administrator that would be willing to correct this? Rapparee71 (talk) 19:09, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Your persistence on this topic is clear, Rapparee, just from my own casual perusal of the talk page. However, our naming guidelines do not focus on what is the "preferred" academic term, but rather what is the "common name" used for a particular topic. In English, "Arabic numerals" is far and away the more common name for this topic. Powers T 12:25, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
My perceived persistence is in response to the fanatical adherence to the incorrect opinion that "Arabic numerals" is most common, it is not. This article was originally, and correctly titled "Hindu-Arabic numerals". I've found this name to be more common in the past 30 years here in the United States. I've also cited numerous, varied, authoritative sources stating this. Whether the preference for the term is academic or not is immaterial. In academic and non-academic circles, the term that is preferred is Hindu-Arabic. The article was moved to its present title without a consensus and now we can not correct that oversight because there is no clear consensus. This is ridiculous, and indicative of the flaw in the Wikipedia architecture. Just because a majority of "editors" say something, doesn't make it right. Majority rule is basically mob rule. Moving this page back to the original "Hindu-Arabic numerals" title does follow naming guidelines and policies. Leaving it as is, does not. Rapparee71 (talk) 12:37, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
I find it very difficult to believe that "Hindu-Arabic numerals" is more common in non-academic settings. Certainly on the web "Arabic numerals" seems to be vastly more common. Powers T 13:34, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
The "web" is hardly representative of real life or of real usage. And while we are on the subject, since when does the concept of "more common" trump "correct"? It's asinine.Rapparee71 (talk) 14:46, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
It may not be representative, but it is indicative. And "more common" often trumps "correct" when it comes to our naming guidelines. It's obvious you consider them asinine, but it seems like you might be getting a little disproportionately annoyed here. Have a cup of tea or something. Powers T 15:44, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Speaking of contacting administrators, Rapparee71 doesn't seem to realize his/her behavior is borderline disruptive. I've removed Rapparee71's reposting of his/her page move request to WP:Requested Moves. Continuing behavior of this type will undoubtedly result in an "official" warning, but consider this a friendly "unofficial" one from a non-admin. --C S (talk) 02:16, 30 May 2009 (UTC)

Common English name[edit]

Specifically, whether it should be named Arabic numerals or Hindu-Arabic numerals. This has been debated many times. It has been repeatedly decided to follow the Manual of Style and go with the most common English name, which is "Arabic numerals". Although we call the positional system the "Hindu-Arabic numeral system", because the system is common to India, Arabia, and Europe, the term "Arabic numerals" is not inaccurate for the digits themselves, which are not common across this area. The Arabic numerals (or sometimes "arabic numerals") are the set of digits original to western Arabs, which they passed on to Europe and via Europe to much of the rest of the world. They are not common to India; Thai numerals, for example, are also implementations of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system, but are distinct from the topic of this article.

(The fact is, that the common English name for these numerals is NOT "Arabic numerals". The above warning is stating this as fact, when it is not true. The name used in most dictionaries, encyclopaedias and mathematics textbooks is "Hindu-Arabic numerals". The preferred name is "Hindu-Arabic" and is even stated to be in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Being common to a certain geography has no bearing on the argument at all. The origins of these numerals is very ancient. There is evidence that they originated in present day India, being adopted and adapted in the Middle East.)Rapparee71 (talk) 07:33, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Yes, "Arabic numerals" IS the common name in English (and many other Western languages). In a post below, I listed the English dictionaries that call them Arabic numerals. Which was every one I could find. "Hindu-Arabic numerals" refers to something subtly different in English. This is not an insult to India, but simply an acknowledgment of the everyday name used by everyday people in the West. -- tooki (talk) 09:00, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
NO, the preferred version is "Hindu-Arabic". I quote, from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Several different claims, each having a certain amount of justification, have been made with respect to the origin of modern Western numerals, commonly spoken of as Arabic but preferably as Hindu-Arabic."Rapparee71 (talk) 18:59, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
"Hindu-Arabic" is the preferred term for a different concept. For the concept that is the focus of this article, "Arabic numerals" is clearly and unambiguously the preferred term, as evidenced by the laundry list of reference works I list in a post farther down this page. Britannica is clearly the exception here, and it claiming one term to be "preferred" in clear opposition to everyday usage is, well... silly, if you ask me. --tooki (talk) 10:43, 28 May 2009 (UTC)
NO! There is no confusion here. It is NOT a different concept. And the Britannica is not the exception. The preferred term is "Hindu-Arabic numerals". Saying otherwise does not change this FACT. Rapparee71 (talk) 11:07, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

Wrong history ?[edit]

who conclude that it called Arabic-hindu numerals ? the world knew this Arabic number from Arabs not from indian....Arabic knowledges spread to the east and west, indians absorb many influences from Arab in many aspects like alphabet, numbers ( called Arabic eastern numeral ), Zero number also from Arab word "Zarro" means very very little thing, not from word "sunya" that historian said, sunya word is not related to's related to contemplation. don't be easy to claim something without strong evidences. the book from Arab that said about hindu numerals is only a papers, investigation, correction to indian numerals that's not efective cause must use a dashboard to count etc so thats why Arabs invent many things in mathematics/Algebra, phisics, chemistry etc

please prove first then write to this articles —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shatree (talkcontribs) 15:33, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Português language[edit]

English version of this article has good section named Common misconceptions. However, Português version has been infested with the work of User:Robertolyra also present here. I am not sure what are policies for different languages, but someone should do something about it, I don't speak the language.

Also I am not sure about these [9] [10] [11] Emir Habul (talk) 18:51, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

Previous reverts on Emir Habul (talk) 19:18, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

The "number of angles" theory of origins[edit]

See recent reverts. It is already mentioned and sourced in the article that the symbols do not originate from the "number of angles" or anything like that, but this folk history keeps getting reinserted, including this this newly created silly image. It's an entertaining explanation (especially amusing how the shapes of the symbols can be stretched to fit the theory), but it ignores all that we know of the actual history. Shreevatsa (talk) 15:36, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Who the hell come up with this statement "In the Arab world—until modern times—the Arabic numeral system was used only by mathematicians. Muslim scientists used the Babylonian numeral system, and merchants used the Abjad numerals. It was not until the Italian Fibonacci's early 13th century popularization that the Arabic numeral system was used by a large population outside India.can some one tell us how Babylonian numerals work? this statement should be is smells offensiveLoor99 (talk) 06:18, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Florian Cajori 1859-1930. A History of Mathematical Notations. Originally published: Chicago: Open Court Pub. Co., 1928-1929.

Fanciful hypotheses on the origin of the numeral forms. – A problem as fascinating as the puzzle of the origin of language relates to the evolution of the forms of our numerals. Page 64-66. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Robertolyra (talkcontribs) 17:47, 13 December 2009

Per Wikipedia:Talk page layout, WikiProject templates at top[edit]

The Wikipedia:Talk page layout clearly shows that the WikiProject templates should be at the top, not buried in the discussion sections. I have moved them there, and I will now get them nested. --DThomsen8 (talk) 00:27, 23 October 2009 (UTC)


There is a simple solution to this problem. Any organisation aimed at dicrediting/humiliating Indian or Indians (like Wikipedia is doing with this article) should be boycotted by India and the Indians (just like China did with Google). Thank you for letting me post.Iknowthesolution (talk) 16:28, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Why don't you go make some curry for us. Of course, curry is Arab also, just like the whole world will one day be.Arabpurist (talk) 16:36, 30 March 2010 (UTC).
U are a true soldier of Islam. Even though the numbers are Indian, we should keep the name Arabic numerals.Keepconquering (talk) 08:30, 1 April 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Keepconquering (talkcontribs)

Written Order[edit]

The section on Urdu numerals above claims that numbers are written left-to-right in Arabic script while words are written right-to-left. I think this qualifies as a common misconception. It is true that written numbers appear identically in Roman and Arabic script, but this is better understood in the terms that in computer science has come to be known as endianness. Many English speakers are familiar with an archaic way of reading numbers from right-to-left, e.g. "four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie". My understanding it that this is the norm for reading numbers in Arabic. That is, Arabic is "little-endian" and English is "big-endian" in reading and writing numbers. From the little-endian point of view, the Arabic writing style for numbers is consistently right-to-left.

The "British Raj" explanation given above for Urdu can then be understood slightly differently; (probably) some languages other than Arabic, that are written in Arabic script, adopted the western, big-endian convention for reading numbers. I do not know if users of the language also conventionally break right-to-left continuity to write numbers left-to-right, as the comment suggests. I suppose that might seem natural to someone who was primarily taught the big-endian reading.

--AJim (talk) 21:56, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Agreed, you're right (AFAIK). But are you discussing changing something in the article, or just something on this talk page? Shreevatsa (talk) 04:49, 15 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. I was thinking about extending the section in the article on "common misconceptions". The misconception being that numbers written in Arabic numerals have to be, or are "naturally" only, read or written left-to-right (big-endian), with the counter example being Arabic. Perhaps this is more about positional notation than about the numerals themselves? I do think the idea is worth expounding somewhere though, because I do not think I am alone in needing to have it explained to me. --AJim (talk) 23:40, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Order is Wrong[edit]

I have a theorem that the left-to-right order of Arabic Numbers is wrong, it has to be corrected with Veyselic Numbers, hich are right-to-left. See for more details. Veyselperu (talk) 08:10, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

The numeric system:[edit]

The myth that the Arabs — not necessarily Islam or the Muslims — invented the current numeric system comes from the fact that the west learned it from the Arabs — hence called Arabic numerals in Europe but they forget to remember that in Arabia these are called Hindsa — from Hind. Moreover Arabic is written from right to left — had the Arabs invented the numeric system they would have written the numerals also from right to left instead of from left to right –as the numerals are written even today in Arabia.

These are some evident signs that the so-called Arabic numerals did not have their origin in Arabia. Let us now look at some more concrete evidence as to their origin. And what better to turn to than a Muslim.

Alberuni (AD 973 – 1048), a Muslim scholar, mathematician and master of astrology, both according to the Greek and the Hindu system who wrote twenty books including translations on India, in his most famous and authentic work, “Indica” (c. 1030 AD) wrote:

“The Hindus do not use the letters of their alphabet for numerical notation, as we use Arabic letters in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. As in different parts of India the letters have different shapes, the numerical signs, too, which are called ‘anka’, differ. The numerical signs which we use are derived from the finest forms of the Hindu signs.”

He went on to write:

“The Arabs, too, stop with the thousand, which is certainly the most correct and the most natural thing to do. …. Those, however, who go beyond the thousand in their numeral system are the Hindus, at least in their arithmetical technical terms, which have been either freely invented or derived according to certain etymologies, whilst in others both methods are blended together. They extend the names of the orders of numbers until the 18th order for religious reasons, the mathematicians being assisted by the grammarians with all kinds of etymologies.” — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:11, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Files nominated for deletion[edit]

Image-x-generic.svg Several images useable in this article,

have been nominated for speedy deletion at Wikimedia Commons for the following reason: Copyright violations

What should I do?

Don't panic; deletions can take a little longer at Commons than they do on Wikipedia. This gives you an opportunity to contest the deletion (although please review Commons guidelines before doing so). The best way to contest this form of deletion is by posting on the image talk page.

  • If the image is non-free then you may need to upload it to Wikipedia (Commons does not allow fair use)
  • If the image isn't freely licensed and there is no fair use rationale then it cannot be uploaded or used.
  • If the image has already been deleted you may want to try Commons Undeletion Request

This notification is provided by a User --JOHNDOE (talk) 13:14, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

terminology: "numeral" versus "digit"[edit]

My impression is that "numeral" properly refers to a written representation of any number, not just the digits 0-9. ( Unfortunately, it seems that "Arabic numeral" is interpreted by many to mean just the Arabic digits 0-9, for example as indicated by the opening sentence of this article and on the numeral page. I would reword the first sentence to read, "Arabic numerals or Hindu numerals or Hindu-Arabic numerals are numerals composed of the ten Arabic digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)." and remove "Numerical digit" from the numeral page. The Hindu–Arabic numeral system page gets it mostly right, using "glyph" instead of "numeral". IOLJeff (talk) 20:05, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Actually, the word "numeral" can have both meanings, i.e. it can mean "digit". See here, for instance. FilipeS (talk) 13:06, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

This page overlaps with Hindu–Arabic numeral system.[edit]

(This follows from my new section just above about "numeral" versus "digit".) Much of this article is not about the graphemes themselves but rather is about the notational system and so belongs in Hindu–Arabic numeral system. IOLJeff (talk) 20:11, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes, there is far too much overlap, not only between those two articles but also with Eastern Arabic numerals, Indian numerals, History of the Hindu–Arabic numeral system, and Hindu–Arabic numeral system, for instance. This has been discussed before in this page, but I don't think it has been resolved satisfactorily.
On the other hand, I disagree with making too sharp a distinction between the graphemes and the notational system. Surely an encyclopedic article about the (Hindu-)Arabic numerals should discuss both! Bear in mind that there are already more specilized articles on the mathematics of Positional notation. I think the tricky part is not separating the digits from their mathematical significance -- which should not be done --, but separating the history and culture of number symbols from the mathematics of their structure. All this is compounded by the ambiguity of the word Numeral. FilipeS (talk) 11:43, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

Arabic digits and Arabic population[edit]

There are very clear indications that the populations that in effect invented and used the Arabic numerals for the first time were Indoeuropean in origin, that is, Europeans. So the name for this numeral system is misleading because it refers to a land region then by inference it is assigned to the current dominant population ethnias, not to the historical populations that were the actual inventors. It would be more accurate to call this numeric system Occidental or Modern. This is readily understood by comparing our current digit signs to the current Arabic and Hindi common language signs to see where the difference lies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:06, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

1) Indoeuropean and European are two completely different things. 2) All languages contains words and phrases that "don't make sense." Language reform is not the job of the Wikipedia editor. Zyxwv99 (talk) 03:03, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Picture Problem[edit]

um...Has anybody noticed that the pictures under "Adpotion in Europe" don't have the the flow command? I tried to find the pictures and fix it, but they seem to have disappeared. Thanks!--Rubypc123 (talk) 02:31, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

Major merger![edit]

What a mess! Arabic numerals and Hindu–Arabic numeral system (with an en-dash, not a hyphen) are two separate articles, and Hindu-Arabic numeral system (with a hyphen) does not redirect to Hindu–Arabic numeral system (with an en-dash) but to Arabic numerals, and Arabic numeral system does not redirect to Hindu–Arabic numeral system but to Arabic numerals.

Welcome to the earliest days of Wikipedia. In 2002 and 2003 this would be expected. Michael Hardy (talk) 16:31, 28 July 2012 (UTC)

It's political. We have some Borat-type guys from India who want everything to be Glorious Nation. Zyxwv99 (talk) 03:31, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
  • The 'Eastern Arabic' numerals should be kept as a separate article.--عبد المؤمن (talk) 23:40, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Contradiction in the article regarding Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī[edit]

The article states that Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī is credited with their invention in 500CE, this is 280 years before he was born: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:11, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

I saw that edit when it first occurred several months ago. What it replaced was even worse, the Hindu version of the same sort of nonsense. I was expecting Snowflake (or whatever his name is) to revert it back to the Hindu-nationalist version, only that never happened. The fact is, many thoughtful editors have simply given up on this article because of that sort of thing. However, if someone wants to correct it, here's a suggestion: Arabic numerals were not "invented" by at any specific time and place. Instead they evolved over many centuries. In some cases, the addition of a specific element can be narrowed down to a particular country and century.
From what I've read, it seems to have started with Aramaic writing, the source of both Brahmi script and (indirectl) Brahmi numerals. The numerals arrived via Saka numerals, the cursive forms of which are found on the Asoka pillars, which in turn are recognized as the archetypes of Brahmi numerals. The place system was a later development, as was the introduction of zero. Zero is actually several related concepts, represented by several different glyphs. A prime candidate for the zero glyph of Arabic numerals is the Greek omicron, which was used as the symbol for zero in the Almagest (circa 120 AD). Zyxwv99 (talk) 16:17, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
Correction: that wasn't the edit I was thinking of, but an earlier similar one on the same sentence. I have just reverted the edit complained of here as it is unreferenced. Zyxwv99 (talk) 16:22, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Leonardo Fibonacci / Leonardo of Pisa...1202[edit]

The article read "Fibonacci". I changed it to Leonardo Fibonacci (Leonardo of Pisa) and added "1202". - Ben Franklin (talk) 14:57, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

When did the first representation of 'Western Arabic/European numerals' - modern numerals - occur?[edit]

Am I missing something BIG? When did the first representation of Western Arabic/European numerals - modern numerals - occur? Was it in 1202 with Leonardo Fibonacci? If so, let's see the example. Or was it when the printing press was invented? - Ben Franklin (talk) 15:35, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

Don't Arabs today write numbers left-to-right?![edit]

"From the point of view of the reader, numerals in Western texts are written with the highest power of the base first whereas numerals in Arabic texts are written with the lowest power of the base first." Is this true today? I don't read Arabic, but I think I've noticed in Arab newspapers and Arab TV that their numbers - like everybody else's - run left-to-right? This should be able to confirm and then correct the article. - Ben Franklin (talk) 15:49, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

Arabic is written right-to-left, but, as the article says, Arabs write the digit with the lowest place value first. For example, writing "five hundred and forty-three" would be done in this order:
Step Western Arab
1 5 3
2 54 43
3 543 543
For someone reading English (left-to-right), the digit 5 comes first, but for someone reading Arabic (right-to-left), 3 comes first. --Joshua Issac (talk) 16:11, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
Let'a put it another way. When you were a little one in school, did you ever wonder why we WRITE from left to tight, but DO OUR "SUMS" from right to left? (Just picture a column of figures, and well, go figure!). I actually asked my old Mum when I was five, and being a clever old thing she gave me more or less the right answer! If we'd invented our numbers off our own bat instead of copying them off the Arabs we'd have all our account books set up to go from left to right (well, wouldn't we!!!) so its US that go "the other way" when it come to numbers! (Although to be fair the Arabs, clever things, copied them off Indian mathematicians originally). --Soundofmusicals (talk) 02:58, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

I just stumbled on this mess...[edit]

...and no progress is being made on the merger, so first is to remove banners at the top. Who's with me?

Also, why is there so much history nonsense going on in the lead? No one calls them "Hindu numbers," not even Arabs. Even if Arabs did call them "Hindu numbers," why would that matter...

Cheers, Λuα (Operibus anteire) 23:34, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Also, the intro says the numbers descended from the ancient Indian system, then proceeds to contradict that by saying they were independently developed. How can that be better addressed?
Cheers, Λuα (Operibus anteire) 22:22, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

Style issue[edit]

Normally I would just fix this myself, but knowing how people will fly off the handle over trivial things like this...

In 3 places "BC" (="Before Christ") is used; in one place "CE" (="Common Era") is used. Ideally this article ought to standardize its style on either BC/AD or BCE/CE. My usual inclination is to count usages & make all instances conform to the majority, but considering the topic I suspect that might start off a new chapter for WP:LAME. Does anyone have a strong preference for one style over the other? (My own preference is simply to see one usage here, & not waste my limited time arguing over which one to use.) -- llywrch (talk) 15:30, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Yes consistency should be the paramount concern. From a brief look at the article history it seems that BC/AD was used first, so I'd be inclined to use that. Paul August 16:08, 24 July 2014 (UTC)

Eastern and Western[edit]

@Filpro: I don't understand why you changed Eastern Arabic to Western Arabic here. - Kautilya3 (talk) 22:33, 27 December 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for pinging me. According to the source at the article, Eastern Arabic numerals, "Eastern Arabic" or "Eastern Arabic-Indic numerals" refer to the eastern variant of Arabic-Indic numerals. (The Persian and Urdu one.) While the Western Arabic-Indic one or simply Arabic-Indic numerals is the variant used in the Middle East. I believe that these articles are currently under misleading titles.
"Arabic-Indic Digits. Forms of decimal digits used in most parts of the Arabic world (for instance, U+0660, U+0661, U+0662, U+0663). Although European digits (1, 2, 3,…) derive historically from these forms, they are visually distinct and are coded separately. (Arabic-Indic digits are sometimes called Indic numerals; however, this nomenclature leads to confusion with the digits currently used with the scripts of India.) Variant forms of Arabic-Indic digits used chiefly in Iran and Pakistan are referred to as Eastern Arabic-Indic digits. (See Section 9.2, Arabic.)" "Glossary of Unicode terms". Retrieved 27 December 2015.  Filpro (talk) 00:58, 28 December 2015 (UTC)
The Karl Menninger book, which seems pretty comprehensive, says this:
The East Arabic numerals are used by all Arabic-writing peoples of the Orient (Egyptians, Syrians, Turks, Persians), and are known there as `Indian' (huruf hindayyah); the West Arabic numerals were the direct ancestors of our own Western numerals, which are popularly called `Arabic'. The `Western Arabs' in Morocco today still use these numerals rather than the East Arabic.
The Figure 239 of the book shows the family tree, where it is clear that the Western Arabic numerals are direct descendants of the Indian Brahmi numerals (probably through oceanic trade) whereas the Eastern Arabic numerals went by the overland route and got modified. I think this is satisfactory terminology. - Kautilya3 (talk) 23:37, 28 December 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for clearing it up. Filpro (talk) 20:05, 29 December 2015 (UTC)
Well, that means that all of your edits to all of these pages need to be reverted! - Kautilya3 (talk) 16:25, 30 December 2015 (UTC)
@Filpro: Can you please revert all your edits to the terminology, especially for the image? - Kautilya3 (talk) 08:37, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
Did not see that! Sure thing. Filpro (talk) 17:01, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

Numerals and numeral systems[edit]

We have separate articles called Arabic numerals and Hindu-Arabic numeral system, but the difference between them is specious. A "numeral" is not a digit, it is a sequence of digits that is used to represent a number. So a "numeral" doesn't exist without a numeral system. A recent edit [12] claims that the "Hindu-Arabic numerals are distinct from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system." I am afraid the average Wiki-reading public would be lost. They know two kinds of numerals, the "Roman numerals" and "Arabic numerals," both of which refer to numeral systems. So, that is what we should be talking about. - Kautilya3 (talk) 18:18, 2 January 2016 (UTC)

The difference between them is huge. We shouldn't publish misleading content for the "average public", we should educate them. If they think there are only two kinds of numerals, they are wrong. Numerals are a set of glyphs to a numeral system. There are many different numerals which use the hindu-arabic numeral system. All linux distributions use the linux kernel but none are the same. --Monochrome_Monitor 03:06, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, the gyphs are called digits, not numerals. The digits might be written differently in different scripts, but they are the same numerals. A Sanskrit verse written in Brahmi and Devnagari is the same verse, it doesn't become different by change of script. - Kautilya3 (talk) 08:41, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, the individual glyphs are called digits. The set of glyphs is called numerals. And remember WP:JERK. --Monochrome_Monitor 08:20, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
"The set of glyphs is called numerals." Can you produce a reliable source for that? - Kautilya3 (talk) 11:13, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
[13] "Numerals and numeral systems, a collection of symbols used to represent small numbers, together with a system of rules for representing larger numbers. (respectively)" You're awfully stubborn, aren't you? The set of small numbers 0-9. 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 together are numerals. With the hindu-arabic numeral system these numbers can represent much larger numbers as each position from the left represents an increasing order of magnitude (base 10). --Monochrome_Monitor 13:23, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
@Monochrome Monitor: Please humour me. And, focus on the issues instead of talking about me.
It does appear that the author of the Britannica article is using the term "numeral" to mean a single digit and he is using "number" to mean combinations of digits.
On the other hand, if you look at dictionary meanings of "numeral," many dictionaries admit sequences of digits representing a number as a single "numeral." This is especially the meaning in Mathametics (according to Collins Dictionary). I know that mathematicians dislike using "number" in the way Britannica is using because the same number can be represented differently in different numeral systems.
So it is possible that "numeral" means both the meanings. I will have a think about how to balance the two. - Kautilya3 (talk) 14:45, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
I agree that the Britannica article (and the linked article on "decimal number system") calls individual digits "numerals" and larger strings of digits "numbers", as in the phrase "...the number 543.21 represents the sum...".
On the contrary, the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary (and my personal experience as a mathematician) say that a numeral is a symbolic representation of a number. For example, "32", "thirty-two", "64 / 2", "XXXII", and "0x20" are five numerals representing the number 32 (in various numeral systems). For another example, "0.999..." and "1" are two numerals representing the number 1.
Whether or not Wikipedia takes "numeral" to mean only single digits, I don't see much point in having an article about those digits separate from the numeral system that combines them into larger symbols and assigns number meanings to those symbols. Mgnbar (talk) 16:18, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
That's numeral singular. I'm talking about numerals, plural. Numerals. Also, don't appeal to authority (yourself.) Sorry for being bitchy Kautilya3, I was getting defensive because I felt you had attacked me earlier, what with saying I seemed inexperienced and whatnot. --Monochrome_Monitor 21:38, 10 January 2016 (UTC) Hug? --Monochrome_Monitor 21:40, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
I gave you two reliable sources, albeit vaguely cited. Then I added a parenthetical remark to explain my viewpoint, not to claim any kind of authority.
What is the point of your distinction between the singular "numeral" and the plural "numerals"? Are you saying that Wikipedia should have an article on the symbols "0", "1", "2", "3", "4", "5", "6", "7", "8", "9", separate from its article on the Hindu-Arabic numeral system? Mgnbar (talk) 21:52, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
It does. This is the article. --Monochrome_Monitor 21:56, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, it does have the article. The question being discussed here is whether it should have the article. In fact, much of this article is about the system, not the ten digits themselves. And that corroborates Kautilya3's fundamental point, that the numerals have little significance outside their system. Mgnbar (talk) 22:08, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well, I haven't raised that question yet, though it is in the air. (What is stopping me from proposing a merger is that there are about 10 articles under Hindu-Arabic numeral system -- see the template:Numeral systems -- and I haven't made up my mind whether all of them should be merged. However, the duplication between this article and the Hindu-Arabic numeral system is still a problem and needs to be addressed.)

I looked up the OED after your mention, and it seems to me that the first meaning, which is vaguely written as "Of letters, figures, words, parts of speech, etc.: expressing or denoting a number or numbers" corresponds to Monochrome Monitor's meaning, judging from the examples given. On the other hand, another meaning "A figure or character (or a group of these) denoting a number. Also used reductively of a person" is the mathematical meaning. So, "numeral" does seem to have these two meanings in English. The best thing to do may be to expand Numeral into a short article, explaining the two meanings, and give links to the various articles. - Kautilya3 (talk) 22:38, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

For the record, I mis-cited OED. Sorry. I meant to cite the New Oxford American Dictionary 3rd edition (2010), as presented in my computer's dictionary application. The definition there is "a figure, symbol, or group of these denoting a number; a word expressing a number." The definition at Merriam-Webster is "a symbol (such as 1, 2, or 3) that represents a number" and later "a symbol or group of symbols representing a number". Regards, all. Mgnbar (talk) 23:08, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
I think that's a great idea, two sections. On the numerals in the mathematical sense and in the glpyh sense, which is more linguistics than mathematics, since the glyphs follow a sort of phililogical history. I was a bit confused about this being in mathematics. It's like consonants having a different phonetic and phonological definition. --Monochrome_Monitor 02:01, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Can I restore the distinction between the system and the numerals? I do think that we shouldn't merge all of them. --Monochrome_Monitor 02:01, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
I wonder what @Paul August: thinks? He didn't accept my barnstar :P And I try not to give those out to lightly... --Monochrome_Monitor 02:17, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
I mean I've only sent three. But I digress, this is my own angst. --Monochrome_Monitor 02:20, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
@Monochrome Monitor: I accepted your barnstar (and thanks), I just didn't accept your invitation to participate in this discussion, as so far I can't think of anything useful to add to this discussion. Paul August 10:20, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
@Monochrome Monitor: Since we have established that "numeral" has two meanings, it would not be appropriate to use it as if it had only one (which is what your earlier edit did). So I do not favour your wording.
This article is one of the top-500 articles (by views) of the WikiProject Mathematics. So we should not mess with it lightly. I don't think all those viewers are coming to this page just to find out how the 10 digits came into being. They are interested in the numeral system itself. I still need to do more research to decide how to balance the two ideas of "numerals." - Kautilya3 (talk) 09:58, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Please note also that the mathematical meaning is not outside the purview of normal English. As you have seen, authoritative dictionaries give both the meanings (for normal English). - Kautilya3 (talk) 10:02, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
Oh, you did Paul! Thanks. Yes I agree @Kautilya3.--Monochrome_Monitor 19:34, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

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Article title complaint[edit]

So they originate in India, but on Wikipedia people think the title should be Arabic numerals? I think the title should be Indo-Arabic numerals, or Hindu-Arabic numerals. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:8AA3:C300:584:4514:AD41:7B3C (talk) 04:39, 2 July 2016 (UTC)

Almost every section of this talk page is this same complaint. You might want to read some of these earlier sections, to see what the arguments are, for and against. Mgnbar (talk) 12:40, 2 July 2016 (UTC)