Why do we use a decimal system?

Count to 10 and you'll soon find out.

18th June 2016
Why do we use a decimal system? (iStock)

Asked by: Ravi Teja, London

The most obvious answer is – as Aristotle pointed out – that we have 10 fingers, which we can use for counting and displaying the results. This may be why many cultures have adopted the decimal system, but it’s not a watertight argument: some Native American tribes decided single hands are enough, resulting in quinary counting systems based on units of five. 

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