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Vous avez trouve par de long ennuis
Ce que Newton trouva sans sortir de chez lui.
(You have found with much trouble
What Newton found without leaving his home.)
[Written to La Condamine after his measurement of the equator.]

In J. R. Newman (ed.), The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.

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# The Great Calculation According to the Indians, of Maximus Planudes

## The Digits of the System, I

The So-Called Great Calculation According to the Indians'

 of the monk Maximos Planoudes.

 A Translation

Since numbers continue without bound, but knowledge of the boundless is not possible, the more eminent of the astronomers invented certain signs and a method relating to them, so that the representation of those numbers they needed might be more easily and more clearly apprehended at a glance.  There are only nine signs required which are these: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 91.  They also use a certain other sign which they call a cipher, which, according to the Indians, signifies `nothing'. These nine signs are themselves of Indian origin and the cipher is written as 0.

When each of these 9 signs2 stands alone by itself and in the first place beginning from the right-hand side, the symbol 1 indicates one, 2 indicates two, 3 three, 4 four, 5 five, 6 six, 7 seven, 8 eight and 9 nine. If, however, it is in the second place, then the symbol 1 indicates ten, 2 twenty, 3 thirty and so on. In the third position 1 indicates a hundred,3 2 two hundred, 3 three hundred and so on. The pattern continues for the remaining places.