The invention of the decimal point dates back to at least 1440

The Decimal Revolution: Italian Merchant Giovanni Bianchini’s Groundbreaking Approach to Simplifying Mathematical Calculations

The decimal system has revolutionized calculations, making them significantly easier. A recent discovery revealed that the comma, used in decimal numbers, was invented in the 15th century by Italian merchant and mathematician Giovanni Bianchini. In 1440, Bianchini used the decimal point in his work, displaying a remarkable understanding of astronomical calculations.

Bianchini, a Venetian merchant who also worked for the Este family as an astrologer and financial advisor, developed a new approach to decimals. At that time, European astronomers relied on the Babylonian system of sixty, which posed challenges for multiplication and other calculations. Bianchini’s innovative use of decimals allowed him to measure distances and divide units into ten equal parts.

Mathematics historian Glen Van Brummelen made this discovery while studying Bianchini’s treatise. Bianchini’s approach to decimals was groundbreaking for his time and influenced later astronomers. Using decimals in calculations made the process much simpler than working with fractions.

A significant discovery was that Bianchini’s use of the decimal point predated a German astronomer’s observation of it by 150 years. His trigonometric tables, which combined degrees and the 60 system with decimals, showcased his unique approach to astronomical calculations. Ultimately, Bianchini’s work demonstrated the power and simplicity of decimal numbers in mathematical calculations.

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