Ethiopian Math

Halved or Doubled - the answer is always right!

Ethiopian tribesmen can only double or halve numbers - by using pebbles as counters. By halving and doubling, they take any two numbers, multiply them and come out with the right answer.

For example, if a tribesman wants to buy 13 sheep at 15 Ethiopian dollars each, here's how he works it out...

Put 13 in a left column, and 15 in a right column. Halve the left figure - you get 6 1/2... ignore the 1/2 (Ethiopians don't know anything about fractions). Double the right-hand figure. Keep this up until the left-hand figure is 1. You should now have:

     13     15
      6      30
      3      60
      1    120

Even numbers in the left column are evil to the superstitious tribesmen, and must be destroyed - together with their guilty partners. So scratch out 6 and its partner 30. Now add the right-hand column and you have the correct answer: 195. Try this with any two numbers - it doesn't matter which side is halved or doubled - the answer is always right! The Ethiopian's primitive mind simply cannot grasp how our system works. Of course you see at once how this joe-k works... Or do you?

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Math, it's a puzzle to me. I love figuring out puzzles. - Maya Lin

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Mathematics consists of proving the most obvious thing in the least obvious way. - George Polya

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For the things of this world cannot be made known without a knowledge of mathematics. - Roger Bacon

Let us grant that the pursuit of mathematics is a divine madness of the human spirit. - Alfred Whitehead

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Mathematics is a game played according to certain simple rules with meaningless marks on paper. - David Hilbert

If everybody in the world dropped out of school, we would have a much more intelligent society. - Jaden Smith

The most painful thing about mathematics is how far away you are from being able to use it after you have learned it. - James Newman

Mathematics is like checkers in being suitable for the young, not too difficult, amusing, and without peril to the state. - Plato

Mathematics is indeed dangerous in that it absorbs students to such a degree that it dulls their senses to everything else. - Prinz zu Hohlenlohe-Ingelfingen Kraft

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Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. - Rene Descartes

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With the steady disintegration of the family in modern society over the last century, the role of the school in bridging the gap has become vital. - Stephen Covey

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