IT and Black History 2 – Ethiopian Math
A couple of years ago one of my Engineering colleagues told me about a math phenomenon that allows you to do large calculations without a calculator. Yes without a calculator, I know it’s vulgar to say perform any calculations without a calculator nowadays since they come pre-installed on mobile phones. But he informed me that the practice was used in ancient Ethiopian centuries ago and is relatively simple.
Once he showed me an example, I noticed immediately that it used the binary number system to find the answer. That was the trick! He wanted to share with me that the before the calculator existed, before the computer existed, there was a method to crunch large numbers with virtually ease, and accuracy by hand. Also, that this method of calculation was buried in the knowledge-base of ancient Ethiopia, a deep African country. By default, many Computer Science – Engineering programs delight you with enough credits to earn a Minor in Mathematics but often times we as Blacks tend to struggle with Math because we feel it is too complicated. I felt very empowered knowing that Ethiopians had mastered calculating large numbers and also had obtained a great understanding of the fundamentals of processing (similar to computers do currently) via the binary number system. The Ancient Math of Ethiopia has been covered by BBC in a short documentary.
Lastly, here’s a recording of my colleague’s lecture with many examples, and great explanations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1AxhxirMuI
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