Greek Numerals


The ancient Greeks used the 24 letters of their alphabet plus three special signs called episemons--vau or digamma or stigma (6), koppa or qoppa (90), and san or sampi (900)--as the basis of their numeral system (Cajori 1993, p. 23; Chrisomalis 2010, p. 134). Here, nine of the symbols represented the numbers 1-9, nine others the numbers 10-90 by tens, and the remainder the numbers 100-900 by hundreds. The addition episemons therefore allowed all values from 1 to 999 to be written by using one to three of the 27 total characters.

For multiples of 1000, a small comma-like slanting sign known as a hasta was placed to the bottom left of a number symbol to indicate multiplication by 1000 (Chrisomalis 2010, p. 138).

In addition, the symbol M was use to represent one myriad, i.e., 10000 (Cajori 1993, p. 23).

The Greek numeral corresponding to a Hindu-Arabic number n may be obtained in the Wolfram Language using IntegerString[n, "Greek"] (upper-case Greek) or IntegerString[n, "GreekLower"] (lower-case).

See also

Arabic Numeral, Myriad, Roman Numerals

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Cajori, F. A History of Mathematical Notations, 2 vols. Bound as One, Vol. 1: Notations in Elementary Mathematics. New York: Dover, pp. 21-29, 1993.Chrisomalis, S. Numerical Notation: A Comparative History. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, pp. 134-147, 2010.Heath, T. L. A History of Greek Mathematics, Vol. 1: From Thales to Euclid. New York: Dover, 1981.Heath, T. L. A History of Greek Mathematics, Vol. 2: From Aristarchus to Diophantus. New York: Dover, 1981.Menninger, K. Number Words and Number Symbols: A Cultural History of Numbers. New York: Dover, pp. 44-45 and 281, 1992. Villegas, R. "Antique Notations.", S. "Wolfram Demonstrations Project: Greek Numerals.", S. "Mathematical Notation: Past and Future." Transcript of a keynote address presented at MathML and Math on the Web: MathML International Conference 2000. October 20, 2000., S. A New Kind of Science. Champaign, IL: Wolfram Media, p. 1182, 2002.

Cite this as:

Weisstein, Eric W. "Greek Numerals." From MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource.

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