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The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics

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This constitutes a system of performing high-speed multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, and square root, all in one's head. The details are given in this reference: Ann Cutler and Rudolph McShane, The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics, (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1960); reprint (Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1983) [specific reference here]. While it is impossible to capture the contents of this 270-page book in one Web page, below you will find a part of the content of this system. For information about the life of Professor Jakow Trachtenberg, Founder of the Mathematical Institute in Zurich, see Trachtenberg Speed Math and Trachtenberg Math. Multiplication Finding the product of multiplicands of any length by small multipliers is accomplished using a set of rules. One works from right to left from digit to digit of the multiplicand, writing down the digits of the product. The rules use only addition, subtraction, doubling, and halving. Here are the rules: Multiplier Rules 0 1 2 3 Zero times any number at all is zero. Copy down the multiplicand unchanged. Double each digit of the multiplicand. First step: subtract from 10 and double, and add 5 if the number is odd. Middle steps: subtract from 9 and double, and add half the neighbor, plus 5 if the number is odd. Last step: take half the left-hand digit of the multiplicand and reduce by 2. First step: subtract from 10, and add 5 if the number is odd. Middle steps: subtract from 9 and add half the neighbor, plus 5 if the number is odd. Last step: take half the lefthand digit of the multiplicand and reduce by 1. Use half the neighbor, plus 5 if the number is odd. Use the number plus half the neighbor, plus five if the number is odd. Use double the number plus half the neighbor, plus five if the number is odd. First step: subtract from 10 and double. Middle steps: subtract from 9, double, and add the neighbor. Last step: Reduce the lefthand digit of the multiplicand by 2. First step: subtract from 10. Middle steps: subtract from 9 and add the neighbor. Last step: reduce the lefthand digit of the multiplicand by 1. Use the neighbor. Add the neighbor to the number.

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1) * 2 = 17.2 = 2.9) * 2 = 2. carry 1. Write down the last digit and carry the other digit. Multiply 901247 by 3. subtract 11 and put a tick mark in that column. Write down 4. using multipliers of any length is learned by the "two-finger" method. using multipliers of two digits is learned. Write down 4. Write down 1. When the sum exceeds 10. [9/2] . Finally. and under it write the number of tick marks. 1 + (9 . carry 1. 1 + (9 . write down the last digit. 0 + 1 * 2 = 2. and the columns can be dealt with in any order desired. Once the multiplication tables are memorized. 17 + [2/2] + 5 = 23. if any. Example 6 8 9 7' 5' 8' 9' 6 6 7' 1 0 6' 4 6 4' 9' 8' ---------8 1 1 3 1 2 3 3 ---------2 '1 6 7 6 3 column of figures running totals ticks sum This technique works on arbitrarily long columns of figures. if that is desired. use the integer quotient and ignore the remainder of 1.2) * 2 = 15. carry 1. by allowing one to work out the answer by rule if one cannot remember it by rote. 0 + 0 * 2 = 0. write down the running total. 2 + [0/2] + 5 = 7. When you reach the bottom.4) * 2 = 11." If any running column total exceeds 11. working right-toleft.12 Double the number and add the neighbor. 2 + (9 . 0 + (10 . Write down 3. 2 + (9 . 11 + [7/2] + 0 = 14. 0 + 2 * 2 = 4. 6 + 5 = 11. except at the very last step. 1 + (9 . Addition The method advocated here involves the following principle: "Never count higher than eleven. Even better. Now add these two rows using the strange rule of adding the two numbers in any column and the neighbor tick number. Write down 2.doc 2/11 . Multiply 901247 by 2. /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752. 0 + 7 * 2 = 14. Write down 0. 0 + 9 * 2 = 18. carry 1. Answer: 901247 * 3 = 2703741. Write down 7.7) * 2 = 6. Write down 7. Write down 1. Answer: 901247 * 2 = 1802494. Write down 9. 1 + 0 * 2 = 1. Write down 2. Write down 0. Examples: 1. it gives a way to help memorize them. Write down 8. 1 + 4 * 2 = 9. 20 + [1/2] + 0 = 20. carry 2. and carry the first digit. 15 + [4/2] + 0 = 17. If you are taking half an odd number. Write down 4. 2. carry 1. These rules allow one to dispense with memorizing multiplication tables. carry 2.0) * 2 = 20.

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Division involves more complex methods than multiplication. no division. The second chapter moves on to a more general technique for multiplying two 2digit numbers together such as 45 times 23. but the system is still easier to work than traditional long divison and also includes an easy method for checking your answer and quickly finding errors. arithmetic becomes delightfully easy because you will be able to "read" your numbers. Educators have found that the Trachtenberg system shortens time for mathematical computations by eighty per cent.doc 4/11 . The fourth chapter shows a method of adding up large columns of numbers and quickly checking your answer. Each number has one or more "shorthand" techniques that you use to quickly go from the number to be multiplied (the multiplicand) to writing down the answer. you can multiply any number by 11 and quickly write the answer. The fifth chapter is about division. For example. Once you have learned them. The method is based on a series of keys which must be memorized. the shorthand techniques for multiplying any number by 11 are: 1) The last number of the mulitplicand is put down as the right-handed figure of the answer. Techniques for the other numbers are similar. The technique is straightforward and much simpler than the traditional method. 2) Each successive number of the multiplicand is added to its neighbor to the right. There are seven chapters to the book. This technique is then generalized to multiplying numbers with any number of digits such as 549394583945 times 2839430. Chapter 6 is about squaring and taking square roots. 3) The first number of the multiplicand becomes the left-hand number of the answer. The first chapter shows how to multiply numbers between 0 and 12 using the Trachtenberg system. These involve operations similar to those used for multiplication and division and enable you to square or /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752. and greater accuracy. The third chapter describes another. the methods used to divide large numbers by other large numbers are simpler than traditional methods.What is the Trachtenberg system? What can it do for you? The Trachtenberg system is based on procedures radically different from the conventional methods with which we are familiar. The Trachtenberg system has methods for multiplying the numbers 1 through 12 with any number quickly and easily. Some are slightly more complicated but none require more than three steps and most do not require any calculation more difficult than adding two single-digit numbers together. faster method for multiplying any two numbers together. The important benefits of the system are greater ease. You always perform some operation on the multiplicand that leads directly to the answer. As with multiplication. greater speed. There are no multiplication tables. Using these three steps. To learn the system you need only be able to count.

It has a short review of basic methods of algebra and then applies these basic methods to the procedures discussed earlier. As with multiplication and division. It walks through the algebra that was used to create the simple rules for multiplication.doc 5/11 . The final chapter looks back at the multiplication methods in the first chapter from another perspective. none of the calculations are with large numbers and there are ways to check your results along the way.take the square root of any number with a modest set of calulations. /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752.

double each digit and add the neighbor. If the answer is greater than 1 digit simply carry over the 1 or 2 to the next operation. This gives one digit of the result. the digit on its right. has a neighbor. The rest of this article presents some of the methods devised by Trachtenberg. These are for illustration only.Trachtenberg system From Wikipedia. This will provide room for any carrying operations. the multiplier should have as many zeroes prepended to it as there are digits in the multiplicand. It is intended to mean "half the digit. So instead of thinking "half of seven is three and a half. • the 6 is neighbor to the 1. rounded down" but for speed reasons people following the Trachtenberg system are encouraged to make this halving process instantaneous. • [edit] Multiplying by 12 Rule: to multiply by 12: Starting from the rightmost digit. For instance. When performing any of these multiplication algorithms. 3425 x 11 = 3425 x(10+1) = 34250 + 3425 [edit] Multiplying by other numbers The 'halve' operation has a particular meaning to the Trachtenberg system. It was developed by the Ukrainian engineer Jakow Trachtenberg in order to keep his mind occupied while being held in a Nazi concentration camp.(By neighbour we mean the digit on the right. when multiplying 985 × 12. so three" it's suggested that one thinks "seven.792: In this example: • the last digit 6 has no neighbor. the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation.675 0 3 4 2 5 x 11= 3 7 6 7 5 (0+3) (3+4) (4+2) (2+5) (5+0) Proof: 11=10+1 Thus.) Example: 3.e. somewhat similar to Vedic mathematics. add one zero to the front of 366 (write it "0366"). search The Trachtenberg System is a system of rapid mental calculation..doc 6/11 . i. To actually learn the method requires practice and a more complete treatment. 6 × 2 = 12 (2 carry 1) 1×2+6+1=9 3×2+1=7 0×2+3=3 0×2+0=0 [edit] Multiplying by 11 Rule: Add the digit to its neighbour. This speeds up calculation considerably. prepend two zeroes to 985 ("00985"). • the 3 is neighbor to the second prepended zero. • the second prepended zero is neighbor to the first. including the prepended zeroes. when multiplying 366 × 7. three". The system consists of a number of readily memorized patterns that allow one to perform arithmetic computations very quickly. Example: 316 × 12 = 3. Each digit but the last. /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752. • the 1 is neighbor to the 3.425 × 11 = 37.

Subtract the last digit from 10. add 5.2=1 43x5=215 • 84x5=420 [edit] Multiplying by 6 • Rule: to multiply by 6: 1. Rudolph Mcshane (Translator) [edit] External links The Invisible Number in Every Mental Calculation It's one of the big secrets of mental math. 5 + half of 7 (3) + 5 (since the starting digit 5 is odd) + 1 (carried) = 14. McShane (Translator). and get the wrong answer. [edit] Multiplying by 7 • Rule: to multiply by 7: 1. For the last calculation (The leading Zero). 7 has no neighbor. Example: 6 × 357 = 2142 Working right to left.3 = 7) 2. Take away 1 from the first number. Rule: to multiply by 8: 1. while others struggle. Add result to the neighboring digit on the right. Write 1. 3 + half of 5 (2) + 5 (since 3 is odd) + 1 (carried) = 11. Rule: to multiply by 9: 1. What is it? The Invisible Number The invisible number? /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752. and add to the number to the right. 2. 3. Take half of the neighbor 2. [edit] Multiplying by 5 Rule: to multiply by 5: 1.In the same way the tables for subtracting digits from 10 or 9 are to be memorized. Double each digit. And it explains why some people do math easily. (Ex. carry 1. carry the 1. Add 5 if number is odd Example:42x5=210 4=2. Write 4. 0 + half of 3 (1) + 1 (carried) = 2. 4. Add half of its neighbor. Subtract the other digits from 9 and double 3. carry the 1. Add half of the neighbor to each digit.: 10 . Write 2. R. Cutler (Translator). lose the place. Write 2. 3. add 5 (since 7 is odd) = 12. add 5. Subtract last digit from 10 and double 2. Subtract the middle numbers from 9. subtract 2 from the neighbor. If the starting digit is odd. A. If the digit is odd. [edit] Multiplying by 8 • [edit] Multiplying by 9 • [edit] Book The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics by Jakow Trachtenberg.doc 7/11 . 2.

Make it big. Back to our 387 + 568 calculation.H. You don't have to physically trace your finger over the digits. 2. 3. (And your brain IS the most powerful computer ever devised. piece by piece.Feel it' technique simply makes the process easier to keep track of. And you store and update that answer in your short term memory as you go. then the last 0. Adding 15 to the number in your mind (940) makes 955. so you need to remember. Repeat the words "Eight hundred" once or twice if you like..Hear it . Just be aware of the shape of them.. /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752. SEE the number See the number 800 in your imagination as best you can. And 'feel' the digits written in your mind.... Okay here's where the technique kicks in: 1. Okay. It's the number you hold in your mind as you progress through a calculation.. Just practice for a few seconds seeing. first the 8. Feel it.. 800! Now look at the next digits in the sum... your invisible number is 940 and you add the final digits: 8 plus 7 which make 15. Hopefully you've remembered the first part of the answer. All you need is a little mental technique known as the 'shuffle'. Make it colorful. how do you 'feel' a number? Imagine drawing the number in your imagination. 800. You might say it makes it more 'human'! Use the technique a few times. Say "nine forty" to yourself as you see it.and make mental arithmetic as easy as a walk in the park.. especially when you're learning a new math skill.. you first add the hundreds. FEEL the number Okay.. huh? Let's have a quick review: The Left-to-Right Shuffle Made Easy Can you see how left-to-right calculation really works now? Your brain moves through the sum like a computer. It happens so fast you're not even properly aware of it.) You build up the answer to a sum. or when your brain feels a little rusty. Okay. Today you're going to discover how you can boost your "invisible number" skill.F. But it's always there.. Just be aware of it somewhere. then the first 0." Let's see the technique in action with a simple example: 387 + 568 Working left-to-right. It doesn't have to be glorious technicolor movie. You want to add that 140 onto the number in your mind (800) and that makes 940.. Feel yourself tracing the digits..Yeah. which stand for: "See it. Easy. Let's return to our calculation 387 + 568. say to yourself: "Eight hundred".. 940. Hear it.doc 8/11 . 300 plus 500 makes 800. HEAR the number At the same time. done? Great. hearing and 'feeling' the number 800. See it flash into your mind. The name derives from the initials S. It's 80 plus 60 which makes 140. Using the 'See it . big and colorful.

How many ways can we solve this? You may be surprised. Introduction The game is very simple. So go and practice the See-Hear-Feel technique now. You'll often improve your math skills just by slow things down and just playing around. Start with some easy sums.doc 9/11 . If you've haven't completed the Multiplication tutorials (up to 'two-figure multiplication') then head over to the Tutorials now. The Key to Mental Breakthroughs The 'See it . "cool". For this example. Let's do it. then add on another two sixteens.becoming a natural mental calculator. The game has got nothing to do with shooting aliens or counting kangaroos. But be assured this is one of the most powerful exercises available. "easy". Use only the left-hand logical side and math is "hard". remember the 'commutative property' of multiplication.. and become aware of your "invisible number" as you move slowly through the calculation.Play with the technique.. Note: This exercise features many of the multiplication techniques taught at Mental Math Master. to get 12 x 16 ("twelve lots of sixteen").. In other words. This powerful exercise will help you develop 'a head for math' very quickly. In fact all the great mental calculators have played it in some form.. and see how many ways you can solve it. where mental math is as effortless as reading a few words on a page. "boring". your "invisible number" awareness will improve to the point it becomes natural to you.. accuracy and general ease with mental arithmetic. "stupid". But if you'll take a few minutes to play it now and again. Here's how it goes: Take any mental math sum. In fact.. With a little practice. Come back to this exercise when you're ready. play is.. you'll soon notice a profound difference in your speed.. And that's what you're aiming for here . There is often too much anxiety attached to math.... we'll use 16 x 12. 16 x 12 Method 1: Split the 12 Firstly. /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752.. In fact it's very simple. You will definitely experience a change in the way you think about numbers.Hear it . which is a fancy way of saying: 16 x 12 = 12 x 16 An easy way to multiply by 12 is to split the 12 into 10 and 2. Use both sides of the brain and math becomes "fun". 10 x 16 = 160 and then 2 x 16 = 32 Add them together: 160 + 32 = 192 16 x 12 Method 2: Cross multiply You can apply the cross multiplication technique.Feel it' technique invokes both sides of the brain: the left-hand logical side (favored by most math books) and the right-hand creative side. The King of Mental Math Games There's one mental math game that will improve your mental math skills beyond recognition. That's all? Yes. you can work out ten sixteens.

. You simply double 96 to get.. 16 x 12 Method 6: Factor the 16 into 4 x 4 Well why not? The easiest way to multiply a number by 4 is to double twice. 96. which is almost exactly what you did in Method 6 above. 16 x 12 Method 7: Double the 12 four times Doubling is a powerful mental math technique. And twice is 192.you could of course multiply by 3 and then 4. However. So you could simply double the 12 four times.. But let's do double the 12 in one clear run now: Doubling four times. • To multiply by 4. So to double 96.... Added together. and 8 times 2 makes 16. 6x1 + 2x1 = 8. 6 x 2 = 12. 192. 16 x 12 Method 4: Factor the 12 into 4 x 3 This is very similar to Method 3 above. b) Multiply the tens.So for 16 x 12 you would: a) Multiply the hundreds. • To multiply by 16. double twice. 192.. let's do 4 x 4 x 12. except this time you're multiplying by 4 and then 3. So for 16 x 12. to multiply by 2 you simple double..) So you can do the multiplication in two steps: • Multiply 16 by 6 • Then multiply the result by 2.. And so for 8 x 12. • To multiply by 8. (Because 2 x 6 = 12. 16 x 12 Method 5: Factor the 16 into 8 x 2 Now to do 16 x 12 you're multiplying 8 x 2 x 12. double three times. Add that to your 180 and you've got 192. 8 times 10 makes 80. Remember you can multiply numbers in any order you like. And 60 + 36 makes 96. (Note . you go: "12.... double once." /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752.) So this time. 24. But generally in mental math you want to tackle the larger number first. Double once is 32 and doubled again makes 64... 16 x 12 Method 3: Factor the 12 into 6 x 2 You know from your multiplication tables that 12 is comprised of two sixes. Remember.doc 10/11 . Now get 96 multiplied by 2. Here we'll do 8 x 12 (get the larger multiplication out of the way) and then finally do the "times 2".. Added to your 100 from the previous step and you've got 180. But it just comes down to practice. What's 16 x 6? Well. breaking it down into two steps may have helped make the calculation more manageable... It usually gives you less to remember in later steps of the calculation. six 10s are 60 and six 6s are 36. 48. double 90 to get 180. Three 60s make 180. • To multiply by 2. double four times. which when added to the 180 makes 192. Again just double twice: 48 doubled once is 96. 80 + 16 = 96 Now multiply this 96 times 2. c) Multiply the units. And three 4s make 12. That's 8 tens which is 80. Adding 12 to 180 makes 192. Now do 64 x 3. 1 x 1 = 1 so you've got 100 so far. Now you want to do 4 x 48. to do 16 x 12 you're actually doing 16 x 4 x 3 To do 16 x 4 you simply double 16 twice... often faster than multiplying. then double 6 to get 12. You simply need to keep a count of how many times you've doubled. 4 x 12 is 12 doubled twice: doubled once make 24 and doubled again makes 48.

Normally you'll choose one way (the easiest way) and simply do it.. Now you want to take away 4 x 12. and then add one more 12... So once in a while. 20 x 12 is easy. Any more methods? We've got nine so far. Nothing will give you a better feel for numbers. and insert their sum. Then taking away the remaining 8 leaves 192. You've 15 twelves now. you can multiply by 10.. But you want 12 x 16. It's 240. In this case.) Okay. you get 10 x 12 = 120. Previously we noticed the 16 was close to 15.. which is 48.4. to do 15 x 12. But is there another base hidden somewhere? Look at 16 x 12 once more. /var/www/apps/conversion/tmp/scratch_2/184042752. and then add on half the total. (Because 5 is half of 10. You might feel that 16 is fairly close to the base 20. Yes there's another way: 16 x 12 Method 10: Another shortcut Look at 16 x 12 on final time.. So 11 x 16 = 176. 11 x 16 = ? All you do is "mentally split" the 1 and the 6 apart.. Of all the mental math games you can play. take any mental math sum. In fact we used a base way back in method 1. and of course 4 is an easy multiplier. First work out what 4 x 12 is: it's simply 12 doubled twice. How many methods have we found so far? Eight. then add on half of 120 (which is 60) to make 180. But we'll call a halt here. THIS is the one game that will develop your skills the fastest. So you could get fifteen lots of 12. You don't need 10 ways to do something. It's only 4 below. And to do 16 x 12 we'll multiply 20 x 12 and then take off 4 x 12. 16 x 12 Method 9: Look to a base Quite often you can spot an easy way of doing a mental calculation by looking to the base. Pull it apart. What's a 'base'? A base is any multiple of ten. where we split the 12 into 10 and 2.doc 11/11 . So add on one more 12 to the 180 and you get 192. There are others if you really want to start getting creative. Then add one more 16 to make twelve.. Insert this 7 between the 1 and 6 of 16 and you've got 176. You can take 48 from 240 in two steps: Taking away 40 leaves 200. look at it from all angles. but you want 16 twelves. But what about the 12. 1 + 6 makes 7. Multiplying a two-figure number by 11 is very easy (when you know the shortcut). 15 x 12 then. (A multiplication usually offers the most permutations and thus the best practice. So let's get 11 lots of 16. So let's think of 16 as 20 .16 x 12 Method 8: Use the 15 shortcut Look again at 16 x 12. 192. Summary: There are at least 10 ways to multiply 12 x 16... the base was the number 10.. So you add on one more 16 to 176 and you get. 11. And 15 is very easy to multiply by. Is it close to any special number? Well yes. It'd be nice to make a straight ten. The number 16 is very close to 15. And calculations using a base number are very easy. Are there any more ways of doing 16 x 12? Surely we've exhausted them all by now? Not quite. But this is an exercise in mental math creativity. To multiply by 15..) See how many ways you can do it.