The Hindu-Arabic numeral system is a positional decimal numeral system first documented in the ninth century. The system is based on ten, originally nine, different glyphs. The symbols (glyphs) used to represent the system are in principle independent of the system itself. The glyphs in actual use are descended from Indian Brahmi numerals, and have split into various typographical variants since the Middle Ages. These symbol sets can be divided into three main families: the West Arabic numerals used in the Maghreb and in Europe, the Eastern Arabic numerals used in Egypt and the Middle East, and the Indian numerals used in India.
The symbols used to represent the system have split into various typographical variants since the Middle Ages:
As in many numbering systems, the numbers 1, 2, and 3 represent simple tally marks. 1 being a single line, 2 being two lines (now connected by a diagonal) and 3 being three lines (now connected by two vertical lines). After three, numbers tend to become more complex symbols (examples are the Chinese/Japanese numbers and Roman numerals). Theorists believe that this is because it becomes difficult to instantaneously count objects past three.
|Middle East Arabic||٠||١||٢||٣||٤||٥||٦||٧||٨||٩|
|Assamese & Bengali||০||১||২||৩||৪||৫||৬||৭||৮||৯|
At present the following sets are being used:Hindu-Arabic numerals These are the most widely-used symbols, used in western parts of the Arab world, west of Egypt, in European and Western countries and worldwide. They are known as Arabic numerals, Western numerals, European numerals or digits , Western Arabic numerals, Arabic Western numerals. In Arabic they are called "Western Numerals". (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)Devanagari numerals These symbols are used in languages that use the Devanagari script. (०, १, २, ३, ४, ५, ६, ७, ८, ९) They are sometimes called late Devanagari numerals to distinguish them from the early Devanagari numerals.Eastern Arabic numerals In English they are also called Eastern Arabic numerals, Arabic-Indic numerals, Arabic Eastern Numerals. In Arabic though, they are called "Indian numerals", أرقام هندية, arqam hindiyyah. They are sometimes called Indic Numerals in English , however, this nomenclature is sometimes discouraged as it "leads to confusion with the digits currently used with the scripts of India" They are used in Egypt and Arabic countries east of it, and were also in the no longer used Ottoman Turkish script (٠.١.٢.٣.٤.٥.٦.٧.٨٩)
Gurmukhi numerals Used in the Punjabi language. (੦, ੧, ੨, ੩, ੪, ੫, ੬, ੭, ੮, ੯)Bengali numerals Used in the Bengali and Assamese languages (০, ১, ২, ৩, ৪, ৫, ৬, ৭, ৮, ৯)Oriya numerals Used in the Oriya language (୦, ୧, ୨, ୩, ୪, ୫, ୬, ୭, ୮, ୯)Tamil numerals Used in the Tamil language (௦, ௧, ௨, ௩, ௪, ௫, ௬, ௭, ௮, ௯)Kannada numerals Used in the Kannada language (೦, ೧, ೨, ೩, ೪, ೫, ೬, ೭, ೮, ೯)Malayalam numerals Used in the Malayalam language (൦, ൧, ൨, ൩, ൪, ൫, ൬, ൭, ൮, ൯)Thai numerals Used in the Thai language (๐, ๑, ๒, ๓, ๔, ๕, ๖, ๗, ๘, ๙)Tibetan numerals Used in the Tibetan language (༠, ༡, ༢, ༣, ༤, ༥, ༦, ༧, ༨, ༩)Burmese numerals Used in the Burmese language (၀, ၁, ၂, ၃, ၄, ၅, ၆, ၇, ၈, ၉)Eastern Cham numerals Used in Vietnam Western Cham numerals Used in Cambodia Khmer numerals Used in Cambodia (០, ១, ២, ៣, ៤, ៥, ៦, ៧, ៨, ៩)Javanese numerals Used in Java since the time of Pallavas. Lepcha numerals Used in Sikkim and Bhutan Lao numerals Used in Lao language (໐, ໑, ໒, ໓, ໔, ໕, ໖, ໗, ໘, ໙)
The Hindu-Arabic numeral system originated in India. Graham Flegg (2002) dates the history of the Hindu-Arabic system to the Indus valley civilization. The inscriptions on the edicts of Ashoka (1st millennium BCE) display this number system being used by the Imperial Mauryas. This system was later transmitted to Europe by the Arabs.
Buddhist inscriptions from around 300 BC use the symbols which became 1, 4 and 6. One century later, their use of the symbols which became 2, 4, 6, 7 and 9 was recorded. These Brahmi numerals are the ancestors of the Hindu-Arabic glyphs 1 to 9, but they were not used as a positional system with a zero, and there were rather separate numerals for each of the tens (10, 20, 30, etc.).
Positional notation without the use of zero (using an empty space in tabular arrangements, or the word kha "emptiness") is known to have been in use in India from the 6th century. The oldest known authentic document that may be argued to contain the use of zero and decimal notation is the Jaina cosmological text Lokavibhaga, which was completed on August 25, 458.
This 9th century date is currently thought to be the first physical evidence for the use of positional zero in India. According to Lam Lay Yong,
According to Menninger (p. 400):
The numeral system came to be known to both the Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, whose book On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals written about 825, and the Arab mathematician Al-Kindi, who wrote four volumes, On the Use of the Indian Numerals (كتاب في استعمال العداد الهندي [kitab fi isti'mal al-'adad al-hindi]) about 830, are principally responsible for the diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in the Middle-East and the West
The use of zero in positional systems dates to about this time, representing the final step to the system of numerals we are familiar with today.
The first dated and undisputed inscription showing the use of zero at is at Gwalior, dating to 876 AD. There were, however, Indian precursors from about 500 AD, positional notations without a zero, or with the word kha indicating the absence of a digit. It is, therefore, uncertain whether the crucial inclusion of zero as the tenth symbol of the system should be attributed to the Indians, or if it is due to Al-Khwarizmi or Al-Kindi of the House of Wisdom.
In the Arab World—until modern times—the Hindu-Arabic numeral system was used only by mathematicians. Muslim scientists used the Babylonian numeral system, and merchants used the Abjad numerals, a system similar to the Greek numeral system and the Hebrew numeral system. Therefore, it was not until Fibonacci that the Hindu-Arabic numeral system was used by a large population.
Even though, in Chinese numerals a circle (〇) is used to write zero in Suzhou numerals. Many historians think it was imported from Indian numerals by Gautama Siddha in 718, but some think it was created from the Chinese text space filler "□".
Chinese and Japanese finally adopted the Western Arabic numerals in the 19th century, abandoning counting rods.