General Science, Mathematics, and Technology


Can a person using an abacus calculate more rapidly than someone using a calculator?

In 1946, the Tokyo staff of Stars and Stripes sponsored a contest between a Japanese abacus expert and an American accountant using the best electric adding machine then available. The abacus operator proved faster in all calculations except the multiplication of very large numbers. While today’s electronic calculators are much faster and easier to use than the adding machines used in 1946, undocumented tests still show that an expert can add and subtract faster on an abacus than someone using an electronic calculator. It also allows long division and multiplication problems with more digits than a hand calculator can accommodate.


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