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# Chapter 1

Our Number System

1. 1 THE REAL NUMBER SYSTEM

The real number system evolved over time by expanding the concept of the word number. At first,
number meant something one might be able to count, such as how many sheep a farmer owns. These are
called the natural numbers, or sometimes know as the counting numbers.

1.2 THE NATURAL NUMBERS OR POSI TI VE I NTEGERS
We assume that the reader understands the existence of what we call the natural numbers. By this we
mean the set , the elements of which are the numbers 1 , 2, 3 , 4, ……The two most prominent properties of
this set are
(a) there is a first element which is the natural number 1 and, secondly that
(b) for each element n of this set its immediate successor is n + 1
Numerals in the past were often cumbersome. Imagine adding MCXLV and DCCVIII.
i
Several
notations passed in and out of favour during the dark ages and mediaeval times. Mathematics only
started to make rapid progress when Leonardo of Pisa, better known as Fibonacci
ii
, introduced the
Hindu-Arabic number system into Italy. This is the representation that we use today.
Fibonacci based his work on a treatise by Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (790 - 850)
iii
.
Through his work on algebra. Al-Khwarizmi is sometimes called the “Father of Algebra”. Al-
Khwarizmi’s most important work Hisab al-jabr w’al-muqabala written in 830 gives us the words
algebra and algorithm.
After integers were understood fractions were introduced to represent portions of things. We see that
these early ideas were far from elegant. The Romans used only fractions with a denominator of 12. The
Egyptians were content with any denominator but used only a numerator of 1.
The next step in advance of numerals was the invention of negative numbers. Addition is certainly
sufficiently straightforward but subtraction was a problem, the magnitude of which is seldom considered
today. Suppose now we wish to consider the difference between two numbers, e.g. suppose that a farmer
has a stock of 12 bags of maize and he sells 7. Clearly then he has 12 –7 = 5 bags of maize left. This is
still a natural or counting number. Let us assume that a rich customer offered to buy 14 bags of maize
and would pay a good price for the cereal. The farmer now had to deal with a situation that extra bags
were needed. He had a deficit of 4 bags. (12 – 14 = -2) and -2 is NOT a natural number. To explain this
deficit the negative integers were invented.

1.3 THE NUMBER LI NE

If we draw a number line which is simply a horizontal line with the integers marked on it
equidistantly in order from left to right, we can see the above processes very clearly. This
hardly needs explaining further.

-2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Here we see that 12 – 7 = 5

-2 -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Here 12 – 14 = -2
If o is a natural number then the sum o + b and product o × b or ob are also natural numbers. For this
reason the set of natural numbers is said to be closed under the operations of addition and multiplication
or to satisfy the closure property with respect to these operations.

1.4 WHOLE NUMBERS
The whole numbers are the counting numbers or the natural numbers and 0. The whole numbers are
therefore 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,∙∙∙∙∙∙
This set of familiar numbers (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, …and so on) sometimes called natural numbers or counting
numbers. When they are called counting numbers, zero is not included.
N ot e: The whole numbers are also called t he posit i ve int egers (or t he nonnegat ive i nt egers, i f zero is
i ncl uded).

1.5 THE I NTEGERS
The set of natural numbers, zero and negative whole numbers is called the set of integers, it is
denoted by ℤ

where the elements of ℤ are ….-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ……

1.6 RATI ONAL NUMBERS

A rational number is a number that can be expressed as a fraction or ratio. The numerator and the
denominator of the fraction are both integers. Rational numbers are numbers that have the form m/n
where m and n are integers. Examples: 2/3, 22/7, 1/2, etc... These numbers can also be expressed as
decimals, e.g. 2/3 = 0.6666666..., 22/7 = 3.142857142857..., 1/2 = 0.5
In other words a rational number is simply the ratio of two integers.

1.7 I RRATI ONAL NUMBERS

An irrational number is a number that cannot be expressed as a fraction p/q for any integers p and q.
Irrational numbers have decimal expansions that neither terminate nor become periodic. Every
transcendental
iv
number is irrational.

1.8 COMPLEX NUMBERS
With our number system there also exists a set of numbers that are often designated by the symbol ℂ,
these are given as ordered pairs ( , ) x y where z = x +iy and both x and y are real numbers.
Here i = √−1. The need for this imaginary number arose because there does not exist a real number
satisfying the polynomial
2
2 0   x , that is one cannot find a real number, x , such that
2
2 x   .
The following diagram illustrates the relationship between the various number systems that we have
discussed:

A useful website with much information on the history of number systems is on the internet at
http://www-groups.dcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/~history/Chronology/

1.9 ALGEBRAI C PROPERTI ES OF THE REAL NUMBER SYSTEM
There are binary operations on the set of real numbers, ℝ, known as addition ( ) and multiplication ( ).
The following properties apply for all x, y and z ∈ ℝ:

Associative ( x + y) + z = x + ( y + z) (x ∙ y) ∙ z= x ∙( y ∙ z)
Commutative x + y = y + x x ∙ y = y ∙ x
Identity 0 + x = x 1∙ x = x
Inverse x + ( −x) =0 x × ( 1 x) ⁄ = 1
Distributive x ∙ ( y + z) = x ∙ y + x ∙ z

The set of real numbers is closed with respect to addition, multiplication and inversion.
The commutative property does not hold for subtraction or division, for example 2 −3 ≠ 3 −2 and
2/ 3≠ 3/ 2
The associative property does not hold for subtraction or division, for example ( 2 −3 ) −8 = −9 and
2 − ( 3 − 8) = 7; ( 3/ 5) / 7 = 3/ 35 and 3 / ( 5 / 7 ) = 2 1/ 5.
1.10 MATHEMATI CAL I NDUCTI ON:
The Principle of Mathematical Induction is a basic technique and there is no area of mathematics that
does not occasionally need this principle to prove a proposition
v
.
Many mathematical facts are established by first observing a pattern, then making a conjecture
about the general nature of the pattern, and finally by proving the conjecture. In order to prove a
conjecture, we use existing facts, combine them in such a way that they are relevant to the
conjecture, and proceed in a logical manner until the truth of the conjecture is established.

The proof of this principle is beyond the scope of this text. The Principle of Mathematical Induction may
be stated as follows:
Let P( n) stand for the proposition to be proved. If
(a) the truth of P( n) implies that P( n + 1) is true and
(b) P( n) is true for a particular value k of n, we usually take k = 1 or 2, then P(n) is true for every
positive integer n ≥ k.

Example: Prove using the method of Mathematical Induction that the sum of the first n even integers is
n(n+1), that is S( n) = 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + ∙∙∙∙∙ + 2 n = n( n + 1 )

Proof:
(1) Base Case: For n=1, LHS=2 and RHS=1(1+1)=2. Therefore the result is true for n=1 base case)
(2) Inductive Step: Assume the result is true for some integer n = p. Then for n=p+1 we have
S( p + 1) = 2 + 4 + 6 + 8 + ∙∙∙∙∙ 2p + ( 2 p + 2 ) = S( p) + 2 p + 2 = p( p + 1 ) + 2 p + 2
= p
2
+ p + 2p + 2 = p
2
+ 3 p + 2 = ( p + 1) ( p + 2)

The result is therefore true for n = p and n = p + 1. By the principle of induction it is true for
all values of n.

We shall return to the Principle of Mathematical Induction in Chapter 10
1.11 THE BI NARY NUMBER SYSTEM

We are used to dealing with numbers in the decimal system in which we use a base of 10. We
count up from 0 to 9 and then reset our number to 0 and carrying 1 into another column. This is
probably a result of having ten fingers.

The Ancient Mayans used a base-20 system and the Ancient Romans did not have a base
system (which makes calculations a lot harder because they did not have the crucial `0').

The Encyclopedia Britannica states that “the binary number system, in mathematics, is a
positional numeral system employing 2 as the base and so requiring only two different symbols
for its digits, 0 and 1, instead of the usual 10 different symbols needed in the decimal system.
The importance of the binary system to information theory and computer technology derives
mainly from the compact and reliable manner in which 0s and 1s can be represented in
electromechanical devices with two states—such as “on-off,” “open-closed,” or “go–no go.””

Computer equipment today does not use the decimal system to represent numerical values,
instead it uses the binary system, also known as 2s complement. It is important to understand
how computers represent numerical values

We have used the decimal system for such a long time that it becomes second nature to us. For
example a number such as 5098.374 is in decimal form with each digit having a place value.
Example 1: The place value of the digit 0 in the above number is 100 = 10
2
and the expanded
form of 5098.374 is
5 098 .374 = 5 × 1 0
3
+ 0 × 10
2
+ 9 × 10 + 8 × 10
0
+ 3 × 10
-1
+ 7 × 1 0
-2
+ 4 × 1 0
-3

In decimal form, place values are powers of 10 so the decimal system is said to have a base of
10 Note: base 10 requires ten digits (i.e. 0 through to 9).
The binary system works in a similar way to the decimal (or denary) number system. There are
two differences. In the binary system we are only allowed to use the digits 0 and 1 (instead of 0
to 9) and the binary system uses powers of 2 instead of powers of 10. We here we have an easy
way of converting a binary number to decimal, for each "1" in the binary string, add 2
n
where n
is the bit position from the decimal point counting from zero. For example, the binary value
11001010
2
represents:
We start counting from the right of the number

This gives us 0 × 2
0
+ 1 × 2
1
+ 0 × 2
2
+ 1 × 2
3
+ 0 × 2
4
+ 0 × 2
5
+ 1 × 2
6
+ 1 × 2
7

= 2 + 2
3
+ 2
6
+ 2
7
= 2 + 8 + 6 4 + 1 28 = 2 02

Example 2: Convert the following binary number to a decimal number
     
2 3
4 3 2 1 0
1 1 1
2 2 2 2
3 1 1
4 8 8 10
10111.011 1 2 0 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 0 1 1
16 4 2 1 23 23.375
               
        

We can convert into other bases by repeated division but will not pursue this avenue further in
this text.

Conversion between bases which are powers of 2

Example 3: Convert 1001011101
2
into base 4

We could convert the above binary number to a decimal number and then convert the decimal
number to base 4. However it is much simpler to group the pairs into digits starting from the
right and then convert each pair into a decimal.

10 01 01 11 01 → 2 1 1 3 1

The required base 4 number is therefore 21131
4

Example 4: Convert 1001011101
2
to base 8.

Since 2
3
=8 we group the the digits into sets of three and fill the left with zeros if necessary.

001 001 011 101 → 1 1 3 5

The required base 8 number is therefore 1135
8

EXERCISES
1. Given the numbers 4, -3, 2
1
ó
, −√49, û. 1û31û31û3…. . , 5 + √3, û, √−13. State which
numbers are (i) natural, (ii) rational, (iii) real and (iv) non-real or complex.
2. Classify the following numbers as rational or irrational and give your reason.
(a) 46662
(b) √49
(c) 3.141592653589793………
(d) 0.5287593593593
(e) 7/8
(f) –12/4
(g) 0.345 345 345

3. Show that 7 lies between
1
4
2 and
3
4
2 .
4. Give examples of rational numbers that fit between the following sets: -
0.67 and 0.68; 7.72 and 7.79
5. Which of the following three numbers are rational? Justify you answer.
a. 8 56
b. 8 49
c. 2 11

6. Give an example of a number that would satisfy the following rules:
(a) a number that is real, rational, whole, an integer and natural
(b) a number that is real and rational
(c) a number that is real, rational and an integer

7. Show that √7 is irrational.

8. Use the Principle of Induction to prove that 3
n
> n
2
,

9. N = 10.11 is written in base 2.

(i) Write the number which is twice as big as N as a base 2 .
(ii) Calculate, in base 2, one and a half times N.

10. Express 101010
2
in base 8.

Solut i ons:

1. 4 is a natural number. The numbers 4, -3, 2
2
¨
, 0.10311031 are rational numbers; all are real
numbers with the exception of √−1 3 which is complex or non-real and irrational.

2. All are rational with the exception of (c ) which is π. The number can be expressed in the form
o/ b where o and b are integers, √49 =7 which is a counting number.

3. We assume that
3 1
4 4
2 7 2   is true. This implies that ( 9 4 ⁄ )
2
< 7 < ( 1 1 4 ⁄ )
2

Multiply out by the denominator, 16. This gives us 81 < 1 02 < 12 1. This is always true and
proves our original assumption.

4. All rational numbers ℚe( 0 .6 7, 0 .68 ) and ℚe( 7 .7 2, 7 .79) . In other words the intervals are open
and do not include the end points .

5. (a) 8 − √5 6 = 8 −√8 √7 = 8 − 2√2 √7. This is irrational since √2 and √7 are irrational and
we can show that √56 is also irrational.
1. 8 −√4 9 = 8 − 7 = 1 which is certainly rational and a natural number.
2. √11 is irrational

6. (a) Only the set of natural numbers satisfy these conditions
(b) The set of all rational numbers satisfy this condition
(c) The set of all rational numbers satisfy the given conditions

7. If √7 is rational, then it can be expressed by some number a/b (in lowest terms). This would
mean: (a/b)² = 7. Squaring, a² / b² = 7. Multiplying by b², a² = 7b². If a and b are in lowest terms
(as assumed), their squares would each have an even number of prime factors. 7b² has one more
prime factor than b², meaning it would have an odd number of prime factors. Every composite
has a unique prime factorization and cannot have both an even and odd number of prime factors.
This contradiction forces the our assumption wrong, so √7 cannot be rational. It is therefore

8. Base Case: When n = 1, LHS = 3, RHS = 1.Since 3>1 the result is true for n = 1.
Inductive step: Assume the the result true for n = p. For n = p + 1 we have

1 2 2
2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2
3 ( 1) 3 .3 ( 1)
3(3 ) 3 2 1 We subtracted 3 and added 3
3(3 ) ( 1) 2 Algebra
p p
p
p
p p
p p p p p p
p p p

    
     
     

The first term is positive by assumption. The second and third terms are positive since they are
the squares of real numbers. For p ≥ 2 , ( p −1 )
2
is positive. Therefore 3
p+1
− ( p + 1)
2
> 0.
This proves the result by the principle of mathematical induction

9. (i) We simply move the decimal one place to the right. (10 .11 = 2
1
+ 2
-2
+ 2
-2
= 2.75 Now
2 × 2.7 5 = 5.5 = 2
2
+ 0 × 2
1
+ 1 × 2
0
+ 2
-1
= 1 01 .1 ) We ar e j ust doub l i n g t h e number
si n ce ou r base i s 2
( i i ) We h ave t o mul t i pl y 10 .1 1 b y 1.1. We set u p t h e f ol l ow i ng t abl e
1 0 . 1 1

X 1 . 1 0
1 0 . 1 1
1 . 0 1 1
1 0 0 . 0 0 1
10. Di vi de t h e di gi t s i nt o gr ou ps of t hr ee st ar t i n g f r om t he r i ght and w e get 1 01 and 01 0
The d eci mal equi val en t of t h e f i r st gr oup i s 3 and t h e secon d gr oup i s 2 . We can t her ef or e
w r i t e
1 01010
2
= 5 2
8

SUMMARY OF CHAPTER 1
The reader should understand the ideas of our number system as well as the operations on real numbers.
We classify numbers according to common characteristics as follows:

Natural Numbers: ℕ = { 1 , 2,3 , . . . }
Whole Numbers or positive integers: w = { 0 ,1, 2 ,3 , . . . }
Integers: ℤ = { . . . . . −3, −2, −1, 0, 1, 2 , 3, . . . }
Rational Numbers: ℚ={ o b| ⁄ o, beℤ, b ≠ 0 }
Irrational Numbers: ℚ

= {non-terminating, non-repeating decimals}
Real Numbers: ℝ = {all rational and irrational numbers}
Complex or Imaginary Numbers: ℂ= {o + ib| o, b ∈ ℝ onJ i = √−1}

Remember that in the binary system we
have 1+1=0 carry 1
Check: 10.11=2.75 and 1.1 =1.5
Therefore 2 .75 × 1.5 = 4.1 25. The binary
equivalent is 2
2
+ 2
-3
= 10 0.001
Mathematical induction is used to prove that a statement, which has a positive integer n for a
parameter, is true for all possible values of that parameter. This powerful and simple technique
of proof widely used in many branches of mathematics.

i

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/journals/CJ/47/2/Roman_Elementary_Mathematic
s*.html

ii
Fibonnaci http://www.maths.surrey.ac.uk/hosted-sites/R.Knott/Fibonacci/fibBio.html#who

iii
Al-Khwarizmi was a Muslim mathematician and astronomer whose major works introduced Hindu-Arabic
numerals and the concepts of algebra into European mathematics. Latinized versions of his name and of his most
famous book title live on in the terms algorithm and algebra.

iv
In mathematics, a transcendental number is any irrational number that is real but not an algebraic number that
is, it is not the root or solution of any polynomial equation with rational coefficients.

v
In logic a proposition is a statement that affirms or denies something and is either true or false.