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SME 430: History of Mathematics 1/19/10

Napier’s Bones

The Scot, John Napier, invented these strips (originally made from bone)
about 400 years ago to help calculate multiplication and division.

This is what they looked like:

Can you work out how to use Napier's bones to find the answer to 24x18?

Pick out the bones (rods) which start with 1 and 8.

Source: http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/machine/napier.htm
SME 430: History of Mathematics 1/19/10

Pick out 2nd row up along the diagonals. This shows us 2 x 18

0 1

2
6
3 6

Pick out the 4th row up along the diagonals. This shows us 4 x 18

0 3

4
2
7 2

As we want the final calculation is 24 x 18

24 x 18 = (20x18) + (4x18)

= 360 + 72

= 432

Question:
Does the order matter?
Do you get the same answer if you switch the numbers?
Source: http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/machine/napier.htm
SME 430: History of Mathematics 1/19/10

Problems:

Use Napier’s Bones multiplication to find

1. 13 x 42
2. 54 x 98
3. 45 x 126
4. 85 x 17

Think about:

Analyze the method to see why it works.

Source: http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/machine/napier.htm