Math Basics

Basic Mathematical Operations

What is division?

The word divide comes from the Latin root vidua (referring to a separation; the word “divide” shares its major root with the word “widow”) and di, a prefix that is a contrac tion of dis, meaning “apart” or “away.” In division, the number being divided is called the dividend, while the number dividing is called the divisor. The end result is called the quotient. For example, in 20/5 = 4, 20 is the dividend, 5 the divisor, and 4 the quotient.

Division in mathematics is a relatively new concept for the masses; it was only taught at university levels after the 16th century. The first to offer division to the public was German mathematician Adam Ries (1492-1559; also seen as Risz, Riesz, Riese, or Ris) in his work Rechenung nach der lenge, auff den Linihen vnd (sic) Feder, often shortened to Practica. His work reached more people for an important reason: Instead of the usual practice of writing a mathematical book in Latin, he wrote his book in German, thus reaching a wider audience.


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