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A good number system should

  1. May 2, 2006 #1
    Suppose you're to make a new number system. A good number system should have what? What do you think?

    - Should be based on higher base than 10, for example 20 - less digits to write.

    - its digits should be as easy as possible to write.

    - what else?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2006 #2
    easy to learn should be one of the most important criterias ;)
  4. May 2, 2006 #3
    In order to simplify arithmetic and to only have a small set of numerals...place value is absolutely essential.

    We would also need a placeholder of types for nothingness, so a "zero" is needed.

    The numerals shouldn't be that difficult to write...or maybe one or two really difficult ones that mean like 1 trillion or something just to screw with people.

    But keeping it simple as in lines and curves/loops as in our system is key.

    By the way, if we have a base 20 system, wouldn't we have to think of more digits? We'd need a digit from everything from 0-19.

    Or do you mean big numbers could be expressed with less digits?

    One last thing I could think of would be maybe a simple manner to indicate exponentiation, so you have easy access to factors of the base and could probably reduce notation a bit and thus arithmetic a bit.

    Maybe like a dot, or a dash, or some cool thing on top of a number for it's first two base factors.

    And now all of this crazy number system talk has made me hungry...so I'm done rambling. But, try to come up with one. I've thought about this many times before but never followed it through.
    Last edited: May 2, 2006
  5. May 3, 2006 #4
    If you're just talking about base systems, then having a base n system where n has a lot of prime factors would be better. Base 10 is slightly clumsy due to it's factors being 2 and 5. Base 8 or Base 12 would be much nicer. Base 60 would be even better but that's be somewhat over the top in symbols required.

    Base 12 would mean that loads more fractions would have nice decimal representations. Like 0.3 would be 1/4 and 0.4 would be 1/3. I think those benefits would outweight having a base 20 system so you could write numbers in a shorter way. Base 20 offers no advantages over base 10 in terms of decimal expansions.
  6. May 3, 2006 #5
    How about base 840? Every natural number less than 9 goes into 840 evenly. Just use the first 840 kanji in the Japanese writing system for each numeral :biggrin: There are 1,945 official kanji, so there's plenty of room for more numerals if you want :tongue: Oh, that's too many distinct numerals? Well, base 60 doesn't seem so bad now, does it?
  7. May 13, 2006 #6
    my vote is for base 12, because of its many prime factors. And who said SI is better US, 12 is a great number!
  8. May 14, 2006 #7


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    Base 10 is very good because it is nicely related to the number of fingers we've got. :smile:
  9. May 14, 2006 #8
    But what about people who live in cartoons? They only have eight fingers. :uhh:
  10. May 14, 2006 #9


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    That's why they never managed to develop a number system. :approve:
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