Japanese Multiplication

I was surfing around WordPress.com blogs, and I found a pretty interesting post on quipsandquarks.wordpress.com. Usually we think of multiplying as no big deal and just a boring function. In Japan, they do it in a somewhat exotic way that intrigued me. Here is a video from that post.

Pretty cool isn’t it? Like I said before, it seems to be a weird way of multiplying numbers. But if you think about it, it does make a lot of sense. Let’s say I’m multiplying 2 by 2. From basic math, we know that this can be visually represented as a two-by-two square.

Now suppose we are multiplying 11 by 2. From basic math, we get the two and times it by the ones digit, and we get a two for the products one digit. We get the two again and times it by the tens digit, and we get another two for the product’s tens digit. Thus, 22. However, this is visually represented by having two 2-by-1 rectangles, where one rectangle represents the tens digit and the other one represents the ones  digit. This is pretty much the basic concept of Japanese multiplication.

The second example in the video- 123 x 321- is pretty much the same thing, except this time you group two or more “intersections” or in the terms of my explanations, two or more “squares” and count that as one digit. This could be visually representative of the fact that when you multiply a multiple-digit number by a multiple-digit number, you will have to add. (Right? Hope you still remember your basic multiplication.)

Anyhow, this was something I found interesting. If you want me to clarify my explanation a little bit more, than just contact me. For tomorrow, I will focus on a political cartoon. (I love those!)


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