Counting
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Gilbert Ryle supposedly once said that when I use an abacus, I am not counting with my mind, but with my fingers, that the abacus is my extended mind."--Sholem Stein |
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Counting is the process of determining the number of elements of a finite set of objects. The traditional way of counting consists of continually increasing a (mental or spoken) counter by a unit for every element of the set, in some order, while marking (or displacing) those elements to avoid visiting the same element more than once, until no unmarked elements are left; if the counter was set to one after the first object, the value after visiting the final object gives the desired number of elements. The related term enumeration refers to uniquely identifying the elements of a finite (combinatorial) set or infinite set by assigning a number to each element.
Counting in prehistory
Counting in prehistory was first assisted by using body parts, primarily the fingers. This is reflected in the etymology of certain number names, such as in the names of ten and hundred in the Proto-Indo-European numerals, both containing the root *dá¸± also seen in the word for "finger" (Latin digitus, cognate to English toe).
Early systems of counting using tally marks appear in the Upper Paleolithic. The first more complex systems develop in the Ancient Near East together with the development of early writing out of proto-writing systems.
- see also
- Abacus
- Alphabetic numeral system
- Attic numerals
- Australian Aboriginal enumeration
- Cherty i rezy
- Chuvash numerals
- Counting rods
- History of ancient numeral systems
- History of arithmetic
- History of communication
- History of mathematics
- Lebombo bone
- List of numeral system topics
- List of numeral systems
- Paleolithic tally sticks
- Tally marks
See also
- Automated pill counter
- Card reading (bridge)
- Calculation
- Cardinal number
- Combinatorics
- Counting (music)
- Counting problem (complexity)
- Developmental psychology
- Elementary arithmetic
- Finger counting
- History of mathematics
- Jeton
- Level of measurement
- Ordinal number
- Subitizing and counting
- Tally mark
- Unary numeral system
- List of numbers
- List of numbers in various languages
- Yan tan tethera (Counting sheep in Britain)