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Ancient Babylonian algorithms

Ancient Babylonian algorithms Ancient Babylonian Algorithms Donald E. Knuth Stanford University The early origins of mathematics are discussed, emphasizing those aspects which seem to be of greatest interest from the standpoint of computer science. A number of old Babylonian tablets, many of which have never before been translated into English, are quoted. Key Words and Phrases: history of computation, Babylonian tablets, sexagesimal number system, sorting CR Categories: 1.2 One of the ways to help make computer science respectable is to show that it is deeply rooted in history, not just a short-lived phenomenon. Therefore it is natural to turn to the earliest surviving documents which deal with computation, and to study how people approached the subject nearly 4000 years ago. Archeological expeditions in the Middle East have unearthed a large number of clay tablets which contain mathematical calculations, and we shall see that these tablets give many interesting clues about the life of early "computer scientists." Introduction to Babylonian Mathematics The tablets in question come from the general area of Mesopotamia (present day Iraq), between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, centered more or less about the ancient city of Babylon (near present-day Baghdad). They are covered with cuneiform (i.e. "wedge-shaped") script, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Communications of the ACM Association for Computing Machinery

Ancient Babylonian algorithms

Communications of the ACM , Volume 15 (7) – Jul 1, 1972

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References (9)

Publisher
Association for Computing Machinery
Copyright
Copyright © 1972 by ACM Inc.
ISSN
0001-0782
DOI
10.1145/361454.361514
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Ancient Babylonian Algorithms Donald E. Knuth Stanford University The early origins of mathematics are discussed, emphasizing those aspects which seem to be of greatest interest from the standpoint of computer science. A number of old Babylonian tablets, many of which have never before been translated into English, are quoted. Key Words and Phrases: history of computation, Babylonian tablets, sexagesimal number system, sorting CR Categories: 1.2 One of the ways to help make computer science respectable is to show that it is deeply rooted in history, not just a short-lived phenomenon. Therefore it is natural to turn to the earliest surviving documents which deal with computation, and to study how people approached the subject nearly 4000 years ago. Archeological expeditions in the Middle East have unearthed a large number of clay tablets which contain mathematical calculations, and we shall see that these tablets give many interesting clues about the life of early "computer scientists." Introduction to Babylonian Mathematics The tablets in question come from the general area of Mesopotamia (present day Iraq), between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, centered more or less about the ancient city of Babylon (near present-day Baghdad). They are covered with cuneiform (i.e. "wedge-shaped") script,

Journal

Communications of the ACMAssociation for Computing Machinery

Published: Jul 1, 1972

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