Chapter 2

It's All in the Fingers: Numbers and Digits

In This Chapter

arrow Understanding how place value turns digits into numbers

arrow Distinguishing whether zeros are important placeholders or meaningless leading zeros

arrow Reading and writing long numbers

arrow Understanding how to round numbers and estimate values

When you're counting, ten seems to be a natural stopping point — a nice, round number. The fact that our ten fingers match up so nicely with numbers may seem like a happy accident. But of course, it's no accident at all. Fingers were the first calculator that humans possessed. Our number system — Hindu-Arabic numbers — is based on the number ten because humans have 10 fingers instead of 8 or 12. In fact, the very word digit has two meanings: numerical symbol and finger.

In this chapter, I show you how place value turns digits into numbers. I also show you when 0 is an important placeholder in a number and why leading zeros don't change the value of a number. And I show you how to read and write long numbers. After that, I discuss two important skills: rounding numbers and estimating values. ...

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