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Random: Any way to calculate Transcendental numbers using abacus?

  1. Mar 31, 2009 #1
    For example is it possible to approximate cos(17) using a Japanese abacus?
    Even if it takes a while. I'd imagine it would have to do with the Taylor expansion or something but I'm not sure.

    I think it is important because one day calculators will turn against us in the 2014 robotic uprising.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2009 #2


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    Welcome to PF!

    Hi Pinu7! Welcome to PF! :smile:

    There's a work-in-progress series of lessons on the traditional abacus by Derrick Coetzee at http://moonflare.com/abacus/index.html which should soon have cosines …
    … let's hope he finishes it before 2014! :biggrin:
  4. Mar 31, 2009 #3


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    Yes, you can calculate transcendental quantities with an abacus, to any precision you desire. An electronic computer is very similar to an abacus, in that it has finite states with a deterministic means of moving from one state to another. You could probably back-adapt the algorithms used by computers onto an abacus if you're so inclined.

    - Warren
  5. Apr 1, 2009 #4


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    Any decimal approximation to a number is a rational number and it is possible to calculate any rational number on an abacus. Thus, you can approximate any number on an abacus.
  6. Apr 1, 2009 #5
    Well, I am still unsure how exactly to calculate some of these basic numbers. I guess I could use the Maclaurin series for some of them. However, I can't find an algorithm for finding powers of numbers that are needed.

    Perhaps, my dream of defeating our robotic overlords is doomed. :'(
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