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Why do we use a decimal system?

Published: 18th June, 2016 at 00:00
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Count to 10 and you'll soon find out.

Asked by: Ravi Teja, London

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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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Authors

Robert is a science writer and visiting professor of science at Aston University.

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