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Egyptian Mathematics
Our first knowledge of mankind's use of mathematics beyond mere counting comes from the Egyptians and Babylonians. Both civilizations developed mathematics that was similar in some ways but different in others. The mathematics of Egypt, at least what is known from the papyri, can essentially be called applied arithmetic. It was practical information communicated via example on how to solve specific problems.

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Pyramids at Giza
This point, that mathematics was communicated by example, rather than by principle, is significant and is different than today's mathematics that is communicated essentially by principle with examples to illustrate principles. The reasons for this are unknown but could be due partly to the fact that symbolism, the medium of principles, did not exist in these early times. Indeed, much of mathematics for many centuries was communicated in this way. It may be much easier to explain to a young student an algorithm to solve a problem and for them to learn to solve like problems, than to explain the abstract concept first and basing examples upon this concept.




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Next: Basic facts about ancient
Don Allen 2001-04-21