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

In the 15th century, Italian merchant and mathematician Giovanni Bianchini introduced the comma into decimal numbers, revolutionizing calculations. Bianchini’s work with decimals made mathematical calculations significantly easier, even though he was a Venetian merchant who managed the wealth of the Este family and drew up horoscopes. At that time, European astronomers used the Babylonian system of sixty, which presented challenges for multiplication and other calculations.

Bianchini’s approach to decimals was groundbreaking for his time and influenced later astronomers. His treatise revealed a remarkable understanding of astronomical calculations, as he developed a decimal system for measuring distances and dividing units into ten equal parts. Mathematicians historian Glen Van Brummelen discovered Bianchini’s innovative use of the decimal point while studying his treatise.

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

By Sophia Gonzalez

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