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Technical Math For Dummies® by Barry Schoenborn, Bradley Simkins

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Chapter 3. Zero to One and Beyond

In This Chapter

  • Identifying the types of numbers used in your work

  • Getting familiar with fractions and decimals

  • Discovering the value of zero

  • Investigating some out-of-the-ordinary numbers

Numbers aren't only part of civilization but were in use before civilization even existed. With the earliest peoples, you can imagine that verbal communication wasn't even necessary when it came to mathematics. If Og found some mastodons for dinner, he went to his tribe, made the sign for a mastodon, and pointed in the direction where he saw them. Then, even though he had hoped the group would hold their questions until the end of the presentation, someone would jump in and make the sign for "How many Hairy Tusk Beast you find?" Og had the answer "at hand." He would hold up some fingers to indicate how many, and the gang would run off to hunt mastodons.

Og's descendants now live in an era of double-knit stretch polyester and smartphones, but the need to use numbers for communication hasn't changed. Some careers are more number-intensive than others, but every trade uses numbers. If you have friends who say they can't do math, please remind them that they can do numbers. This ability is what separates human beings from the lower-order creatures, such as oysters and fire hydrants.

Note

The beauty of numbers in counting (their simplest application) is that answers come with no skills besides counting. However, even counting requires careful administration. And for speed ...

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