How To Use Abacus


Manipulating the beads across the rods with the index finger and the thumb, abacus can be used to perform calculations including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Complex methodologies like extracting square and cubic roots can also be aced using the abacus, in seconds! Crunching the numbers had never been so easy, agree fellas?

Step 1: Zeroing

This is the preparatory stage to initiate any kind of calculation using the abacus. Mounting the device flat on the table, all the beads are pushed back from the center bar to their respective positions in the decks they belong. This is done by sliding the thumb along the beam.

Step 2: Counting

The beads are considered as counted, when they are moved towards the bar that separates the decks. Post counting 4 in the lower deck, the result is carried on as 5 in the upper deck. After the bead in the upper deck is used, the result is carried to the adjacent column as 10.

Knowing the place value

The rightmost column is the ones column, the next adjacent one on the left is the tens column, the following adjacent one to the left is the hundreds column, and so on. Adding to it, floating point calculations can be done by designating the space between two columns as the decimal point. Here, all the rows to the right of that space represent the fractional portion while all the rows to the left represent the whole number.

The Technique

The conventional finger technique is paramount in achieving proficiency on the abacus. The thumb, index finger along with the middle finger are used to manipulate the beads.The thumb is used to move up the beads from the lower deck whereas the index finger is used to move thebead down from the upper deck. In certain calculations, the middle finger is used to move beads in the upper deck.

I did not have a computer until I was 19, But I did have an abacus

Jan Koum, Co-founder & former CEO of WhatsApp

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March 2019