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Trachtenberg system
The Trachtenberg system is a system of rapid mental calculation. The system consists of a number of readily
memorized operations that allow one to perform arithmetic computations very quickly. It was developed by the
Russian Jewish engineer Jakow Trachtenberg in order to keep his mind occupied while being held in a Nazi
concentration camp. The rest of this article presents some methods devised by Trachtenberg. The most important
algorithms are the ones for general multiplication, division and addition
[citation needed]
. Also, the Trachtenberg
system includes some specialized methods for multiplying small numbers between 5 and 13.
The chapter on addition demonstrates an effective method of checking calculations that can also be applied to
multiplication.
Contents
1 General multiplication
2 General division
4 Other multiplication algorithms
4.1 Multiplying by 11
4.2 Multiplying by 12
4.3 Multiplying by 6
4.4 Multiplying by 7
4.5 Multiplying by 9
4.6 Multiplying by 8
4.7 Multiplying by 4
4.8 Multiplying by 3
4.9 Multiplying by 5
4.10 Multiplying by 2
5 Publications
6 Other systems
7 Software
8 References
General multiplication
The method for general multiplication is a method to achieve multiplications with low space complexity, i.e.
as few temporary results as possible to be kept in memory. This is achieved by noting that the final digit is
completely determined by multiplying the last digit of the multiplicands. This is held as a temporary result. To find
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2 Finger method
the next to last digit, we need everything that influences this digit: The temporary result, the last digit of times the
next-to-last digit of , as well as the next-to-last digit of times the last digit of . This calculation is performed,
and we have a temporary result that is correct in the final two digits.
In general, for each position in the final result, we sum for all :
People can learn this algorithm and thus multiply four digit numbers in their head – writing down only the final result.
They would write it out starting with the rightmost digit and finishing with the leftmost.
Trachtenberg defined this algorithm with a kind of pairwise multiplication where two digits are multiplied by one
digit, essentially only keeping the middle digit of the result. By performing the above algorithm with this pairwise
multiplication, even fewer temporary results need to be held.
Example:
To find the first digit of the answer:
The units digit of .
To find the second digit of the answer, start at the second digit of the multiplicand:
The units digit of plus the tens digit of plus
The units digit of .
.
The second digit of the answer is and carry to the third digit.
To find the fourth digit of the answer, start at the fourth digit of the multiplicand:
The units digit of plus the tens digit of plus
The units digit of plus the tens digit of plus
The units digit of plus the tens digit of .
carried from the third digit.
The fourth digit of the answer is and carry to the next digit.
Professor Trachtenberg called this the 2 Finger Method. The calculations
for finding the fourth digit from the example above are illustrated at right.
The arrow from the nine will always point to the digit of the multiplicand
directly above the digit of the answer you wish to find, with the other
arrows each pointing one digit to the right. Each arrow head points to a
UT Pair, or Product Pair. The vertical arrow points to the product where
we will get the Units digit, and the sloping arrow points to the product
where we will get the Tens digits of the Product Pair. If an arrow points
to a space with no digit there is no calculation for that arrow. As you
solve for each digit you will move each of the arrows over the multiplicand one digit to the left until all of the arrows
point to prefixed zeros.
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Setting up for Division
General division
Division in the Trachtenberg System is done much the same as in
dividend into smaller Partial Dividends, then dividing this Partial Dividend
by only the left-most digit of the divisor will provide the answer one digit
at a time. As you solve each digit of the answer you then subtract
Product Pairs (UT pairs) and also NT pairs (Number-Tens) from the
Partial Dividend to find the next Partial Dividend. The Product Pairs are
found between the digits of the answer so far and the divisor. If a
subtraction results in a negative number you have to back up one digit
and reduce that digit of the answer by one. With enough practice this method can be done in your head.
A method of adding columns of numbers and accurately checking the result without repeating the first operation. An
intermediate sum, in the form of two rows of digits, is produced. The answer is obtained by taking the sum of the
intermediate results with an L-shaped algorithm. As a final step, the checking method that is advocated removes
both the risk of repeating any original errors and allows the precise column in which an error occurs to be identified
at once. It is based on a check (or digit) sums, such as the nines-remainder method.
For the procedure to be effective, the different operations used in each stages must be kept distinct, otherwise there
is a risk of interference.
Other multiplication algorithms
When performing any of these multiplication algorithms the following "steps" should be applied.
The answer must be found one digit at a time starting at the least significant digit and moving left. The last calculation
is on the leading zero of the multiplicand.
Each digit has a neighbor, i.e., the digit on its right. The rightmost digit's neighbor is the trailing zero.
The 'halve' operation has a particular meaning to the Trachtenberg system. It is intended to mean "half the digit,
rounded down" but for speed reasons people following the Trachtenberg system are encouraged to make this
halving process instantaneous. So instead of thinking "half of seven is three and a half, so three" it's suggested that
one thinks "seven, three". This speeds up calculation considerably. In this same way the tables for subtracting digits
from 10 or 9 are to be memorized.
And whenever the rule calls for adding half of the neighbor, always add 5 if the current digit is odd. This makes up
for dropping 0.5 in the next digit's calculation.
Multiplying by 11
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Rule: Add the digit to its neighbor. (By "neighbor" we mean the digit on the right.)
Example:
3 7 6 7 5
(= 0 + 3) (= 3 + 4) (= 4 + 2) (= 2 + 5) (= 5 + 0)
To illustrate:
Thus,
Multiplying by 12
Rule: to multiply by 12:
Starting from the rightmost digit, double each digit and add the neighbor. (The "neighbor" is the digit on the right.)
If the answer is greater than a single digit, simply carry over the extra digit (which will be a 1 or 2) to the next
operation. The remaining digit is one digit of the final result.
Example:
Determine neighbors in the multiplicand 0316:
digit 6 has no right neighbor
digit 1 has neighbor 6
digit 3 has neighbor 1
digit 0 (the prefixed zero) has neighbor 3
Multiplying by 6
Rule: to multiply by 6: Add half of the neighbor to each digit, then, if the current digit is odd, add 5.
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Example:
357 × 6 = 2142
Working right to left,
7 has no neighbor, add 5 (since 7 is odd) = 12. Write 2, carry the 1.
5 + half of 7 (3) + 5 (since the starting digit 5 is odd) + 1 (carried) = 14. Write 4, carry the 1.
3 + half of 5 (2) + 5 (since 3 is odd) + 1 (carried) = 11. Write 1, carry 1.
0 + half of 3 (1) + 1 (carried) = 2. Write 2.
Multiplying by 7
Rule: to multiply by 7:
1. Double each digit.
2. Add half of its neighbor.
3. If the digit is odd, add 5.
Example: 523 × 7 = 3,661.
3×2 + 0 + 5 = 11, 1.
2×2 + 1 + 1 = 6.
5×2 + 1 + 5 = 16, 6.
0×2 + 2 + 1 = 3.
3661.
Multiplying by 9
Rule:
1. Subtract the right-most digit from 10.
1. Subtract the remaining digits from 9.
3. For the leading zero, subtract 1 from the neighbor.
For rules 9, 8, 4, and 3 only the first digit is subtracted from 10. After that each digit is subtracted from nine
Example: 2,130 × 9 = 19,170
Working from right to left:
(10 − 0) + 0 = 10. Write 0, carry 1.
(9 − 3) + 0 + 1 (carried) = 7. Write 7.
(9 − 1) + 3 = 11. Write 1, carry 1.
(9 − 2) + 1 + 1 (carried) = 9. Write 9.
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2 − 1 = 1. Write 1.
Multiplying by 8
Rule:
1. Subtract right-most digit from 10.
1. Subtract the remaining digits from 9.
2. Double the result.
4. For the leading zero, subtract 2 from the neighbor.
Example: 456 × 8 = 3648
Working from right to left:
(10 − 6) × 2 + 0 = 8. Write 8.
(9 − 5) × 2 + 6 = 14, Write 4, carry 1.
(9 − 4) × 2 + 5 + 1 (carried) = 16. Write 6, carry 1.
4 − 2 + 1 (carried) = 3. Write 3.
Multiplying by 4
Rule:
1. Subtract the right-most digit from 10.
1. Subtract the remaining digits from 9.
2. Add half of the neighbor, plus 5 if the digit is odd.
3. For the leading 0, subtract 1 from half of the neighbor.
Example: 346 * 4 = 1384
Working from right to left:
(10 − 6) + Half of 0 (0) = 4. Write 4.
(9 − 4) + Half of 6 (3) = 8. Write 8.
(9 − 3) + Half of 4 (2) + 5 (since 3 is odd) = 13. Write 3, carry 1.
Half of 3 (1) − 1 + 1 (carried) = 1. Write 1.
Multiplying by 3
Rule:
1. Subtract the rightmost digit from 10.
1. Subtract the remaining digits from 9.
2. Double the result.
3. Add half of the neighbor, plus 5 if the digit is odd.
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4. For the leading zero, subtract 2 from half of the neighbor.
Example: 492 × 3 = 1476
Working from right to left:
(10 − 2) × 2 + Half of 0 (0) = 16. Write 6, carry 1.
(9 − 9) × 2 + Half of 2 (1) + 5 (since 9 is odd) + 1 (carried) = 7. Write 7.
(9 − 4) × 2 + Half of 9 (4) = 14. Write 4, carry 1.
Half of 4 (2) − 2 + 1 (carried) = 1. Write 1.
Multiplying by 5
Rule: to multiply by 5: Take half of the neighbor, then, if the current digit is odd, add 5.
Example: 42×5=210
Half of 2's neighbor, the trailing zero, is 0.
Half of 4's neighbor is 1.
Half of the leading zero's neighbor is 2.
43×5 = 215
Half of 3's neighbor is 0, plus 5 because 3 is odd, is 5.
Half of 4's neighbor is 1.
Half of the leading zero's neighbor is 2.
93×5=465
Half of 3's neighbor is 0, plus 5 because 3 is odd, is 5.
Half of 9's neighbor is 1, plus 5 because 9 is odd, is 6.
Half of the leading zero's neighbor is 4.
Multiplying by 2
Rule: to multiply by 2, double each digit.
Publications
Rushan Ziatdinov, Sajid Musa. Rapid mental computation system as a tool for algorithmic thinking of
elementary school students development. European Researcher (http://erjournal.ru/en/index.html) 25(7):
1105-1110, 2012 [1] (http://erjournal.ru/journals_n/1342467174.pdf).
The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics by Jakow Trachtenberg, A. Cutler (Translator),
R. McShane (Translator), was published by Doubleday and Company, Inc. Garden City, New York in
1960.
[1]
The book contains specific algebraic explanations for each of the above operations.
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The algorithms/operations for multiplication etc. can be expressed in other more compact ways that the book
doesn't specify, despite the chapter on algebraic description.
[2]

[3]
Other systems
There are many other methods of calculation in mental mathematics. The list below shows a few other methods of
calculating, though they may not be entirely mental.
Bharati Krishna Tirtha's book "Vedic mathematics"
Mental abacus – As students become used to manipulating the abacus with their fingers, they are typically
asked to do calculation by visualizing abacus in their head. Almost all proficient abacus users are adept at
doing arithmetic mentally.
[citation needed]
Chisanbop
Software
Following are known programs and sources available as teaching tools
Web
PC
Trachtenberg Speed Math [3] (http://www.shermankeene.com/tracten.html)
Trachtenberg Mathematics Software [4] (http://www.shermankeene.com/tracten.html)
iPhone
Mercury Math [5] (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mercury-math-fast-mathematics/id318133094?mt=8)
Multiply Without Times Table (both iPhone and iPad) [6] (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/trachtenberg-
speed-system/id708337019)
Android
id=com.ammobile.mentalcalc), Amazon [8] (http://www.amazon.com/Trachtenberg-Speed-System-
Multiplication-Without/dp/B00FBBLMJQ), Barnes and Noble [9]
(http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trachtenberg-speed-system-basic-multiplication-without-times-table-
am-mobile/1116970588)
BlackBerry
Multiply Without Times Table [10] (http://appworld.blackberry.com/webstore/content/36799894/)
References
4/22/2014 Trachtenberg system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Trachtenberg_system&printable=yes 9/9
Trachtenberg, J. (1960). The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics. Doubleday and Company,
Inc., Garden City, NY, USA.
Катлер Э., Мак-Шейн Р.Система быстрого счёта по Трахтенбергу, 1967.
Rushan Ziatdinov, Sajid Musa. Rapid mental computation system as a tool for algorithmic thinking of
elementary school students development. European Researcher 25(7): 1105-1110, 2012 [11]
(http://erjournal.ru/journals_n/1342467174.pdf).
Learn All about Mathematical Shortcuts (http://www.sapnaedu.in/category/mathematical-shortcuts)
Categories: Arithmetic Mental calculation
of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.
1. ^ Trachtenberg, Jakow (1960). The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics. Translated by A. Cutler, R.
McShane. Doubleday and Company, Inc. p. 270.
2. ^ All of this information is from an original book published and printed in 1960. The original book has seven full
Chapters and is exactly 270 pages long. The Chapter Titles are as follows (the numerous sub-categories in each
chapter are not listed).
3. ^ The Trachtenberg speed system of basic mathematics
Chapter 1 Tables or no tables
Chapter 2 Rapid multiplication by the direct method
Chapter 3 Speed multiplication-"two-finger" method
Chapter 5 Division – Speed and accuracy
Chapter 6 Squares and square roots
Chapter 7 Algebraic description of the method
"A revolutionary new method for high-speed multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and square root." (1960)
"The best selling method for high-speed multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and square root – without a
calculator." (Reprinted 2009)
Multiplication is done without multiplication tables "Can you multiply 5132437201 times 4522736502785 in seventy
seconds?" "One young boy (grammar school-no calculator) did--successfully--by using The Trachtenberg Speed
System of Basic Mathematics"
Jakow Trachtenberg (its founder) escaped from Hitler's Germany from an active institution toward the close of
WWII. Professor Trachtenberg fled to Germany when the czarist regime was overthrown in his homeland Russia
and lived there peacefully until his mid-thirties when his anti-Hitler attitudes forced him to flee again. He was a
fugitive and when captured spent a total of seven years in various concentration camps. It was during these years
that Professor Trachtenberg devised the system of speed mathematics. Most of his work was done without pen or
paper. Therefore most of the techniques can be performed mentally.