Today on the blog I start a new project: where do numbers come from?

By which I mean, mathematicians deal with lots of weird kinds of numbers. Real numbers, complex numbers, p-adic numbers, quaternions, surreal numbers, and more. And if you try to describe the more abstract types of “numbers” you sound completely incomprehensible.

But these numbers all come from somewhere. So I’m going to take you through a fictional history of numbers. Not the real history of the actual people who developed these concepts, but the way they could have developed them, cleaned up and organized. So in the end you can see how you, too, could have developed all these seemingly strange and abstract concepts.

This week in part 1, we cover the most sensible numbers. We start with the basic ability to count, and invent negative numbers, fractions, square roots, and more.

But that will still leave some important questions open—like, what is π? So we’ll have to come back for that in part 2.


#math #meta #anything that makes me laugh this much deserves a reblog #(footnote 4) #this post was queued because my to-reblog list is too long and I didn’t want to dump it on you all at once

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.