The arabic numerals are superior to other number systems that existed before them.

The trick of using the position of a numeral as a multiplier for it’s value comes from india, and reached europe through arabia (hence the name), and was always combined with those numerals being used.

Old number systems like roman numbers or the chinese numbers relied on using more and more symbols the larger your numbers get, because if you want to write a billion without using 1000 times the million symbol you need a new symbol in those systems where the value of all symbols is just added. Also stuff like long multiplication/division only works with arabic numerals. In roman numbers multiplication requires some tricks and a solution lookup table for a few basic operations.

For letters the opposite is true, languages all sound different, so a script that is designed specifically for a language works better for it. Look at polish or czech script that uses latin letters to write a slavic language, it’s full of diacritics and multi-letter combinations for sounds that would be a single letter in cyrilliv

There’s more than one set of numbers. But most math going back to medieval times is based on work from Arabian scholars who invented some important things like algebra. So instead of trying to translate this work into different number sets, people who could do math just started using Arabic numerals.

Older systems like Roman numerals and Abjad numerals still exist but are usually only used for lists and fancy clocks, not normal counting.

Confusingly, in Arabia they tend to use Eastern Arabic numerals which are not the same as the (Western) Arabic numerals we use. Same base 10 counting system, but entirely different symbols. 5 looks like 0, 0 looks like a dot, etc.

Other counting systems like the Indic system in South Asia are primarily the same as western Arabian numerals but at high numbers have different groups – e.g a hundred thousand (100,000) is 1 lakh (1,00,000) in Indic numerals.

Because there are many languages but only one math.

Arabic numbers are just 11 pieces of information. The 10 digits and the fact that being positioned before another digit means “times 10”.

This gives you the ability to express any possible number and the ability to understand every number anyone from any culture has written down.

Compare this with different alphabets. If a German speaker learns the Korean writing system he’ll still only know German. He could transliterate German words into the new system and a Korean speaker could pronounce it but would not understand it. To be able to communicate one still has to learn the others language and vocabulary. Which is extremely messy as pretty much every pair of languages have some fundamental differences.

Arabic numerals refer to the idea of position being important. 313 is three hundreds, 1 ten, and 3 ones. It’s much simpler to do math with Arabic numerals than roman numerals where the equivalent is CCCXIII.

0123456789 are the latin/western characters used to write those numbers. There are other characters used in other writing styles, ٠١٢٣٤٥٦٧٨٩ for example in Arabic.

## Latest Answers