Arabic numbers

The decimal system that we normally use is a numbering system in which the quantities used are represented using the number ten as a base , and by a series of different figures such as zero, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. , eight and nine. It is important to mention that the representation of these numbers generally depends on the different cultures and eras and for this reason it is important to mention that the numbering system that is used practically all over the world is Arabic of Indian or Phoenician origin .

What are Arabic numerals?

The Arabic numerals are a value system pure positional , so that it takes zero and makes it different from the numbers Romans . These are the numbers that we know and use today and with which we make combinations .

  • Definition
  • Characteristics of Arabic numerals
  • Source
  • History
  • Who invented them
  • What are Arabic numbers for?
  • How they differ from Roman numerals
  • Importance
  • Examples of Arabic numbers
  • Curiosities


The Arabic or Indo-Arabic numbers are the symbols that we use most frequently to be able to represent the numbers that we normally see. They are known in this way because it was the Arabs who were in charge of introducing them to Europe . They are the creators of the positional numbering , and also include the zero within the positional numbering.

Characteristics of Arabic numerals

The main characteristics of Arabic numerals are the following:

  • They were created out of the need to count and list existing things.
  • They form a positional system represented by ten glyphs or in other words by the value of each symbol that varies depending on its position.
  • The Arabic-Indic and the Arabic-Western Indic are divided into two groups .
  • They serve to represent infinite quantities.
  • With them you can perform different arithmetic operations.
  • They are the basis of mathematics .


It is important to mention that the origin of the Arabic numerals is not Arabic , in fact the Arabs themselves call it the name of arqam Hindiyyah , and it spread throughout the Islamic world and North Africa and Al Andalus . Some writers think that its origin is Phoenician because it was used in commercial transactions that were carried out at that time. It is speculated that the origin of the base ten positional system, used in India , may have had its origins in China since the Chinese system known as Hua M a is also positional and base ten. At the time of Bhaskara I, 7th century, the inhabitants of India used a base ten positional number system with 9 taps , the concept of zero , represented by a point , was known .


Arabic numerals were invented in India in the 5th century.  They are known by this name because they were known to Europeans through Arab merchants in North Africa in the Middle Ages . Muslim mathematicians were already familiar with Babylonian numerals , which used zero, so the new system was not well received. In the 10th century , Arab mathematicians included fractions in their numbering system .

The first examples of the use of these numbers are found in Western literature , in the Codex Vigilanus of the year 976. After the year 980, Pope Sylvester II helped spread the knowledge of the system in Europe . Fibonacci, contributed to the spread of the Arabic system throughout Europe with his book Liber Abaci, and the King of Hungary Ladislaus the Posthumous began to use Arabic numerals.

However, it was with the invention of the printing press that this numbering system began to be used in general in Europe ; and by the 15th century it was already widely used; on the other hand, Arabic numerals replaced Cyrillic numerals in Russia around 1700, when they were introduced by Tsar Peter I of Russia.

Who invented them

Arabic numerals are a numerical system that was created in India , approximately 5,000 years ago, and they were the ones who invented it due to the need to count their objects and products.

What are Arabic numbers for?

Arabic numbers are used to count elements of a set that is finite , and also to order numbers and objects. Numbers are considered the basis of current mathematics .

How they differ from Roman numerals

The Roman numeral system is capable of expressing all numbers from 1 to 1,000,000 using only 7 symbols : I for 1, V for 5, X for 10, L for 50, C for 100, D for 500 and M for 1,000. The Arabic numerals are the current system of numerical notation used in the world and whose most important innovation was the use of positional notation , in which the individual symbols change their value according to its position in the number written.


Arabic numbers are of great importance to us because they are the fundamental basis for everything that is related to mathematics and that we currently know. They are also very important because through them we can carry out many of the actions of daily life.

Examples of Arabic numbers

Some examples of Arabic numbers are:

  • Arabian-West Indian:  0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • Arabic-Indian:  ۰, ۱, ۲, ۳, ٤, ۵, ٦, ۷, ۸, ۹
  • East Arabic-Indian:  ۰, ۱, ۲, ۳, ۴, ۵, ۶, ۷, ۸, ۹
  • Devanagari:  ०, १, २, ३, ४, ५, ६, ७, ८, ९
  • Tamil:  ௧, ௨, ௩, ௪, ௫, ௬, ௭, ௮, ௯


Some curiosities of the Arabic numbers are:

  • Arabic numerals are not Arabic but are from India.
  • The Arab traders popularized the numbers in Europe during the Middle Ages.

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