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Arithmetic and ‘real numbers’

To the editor,

Five centuries ago, students in a grammar school were instructed to find the sum of the first 100 numbers. Under today’s “core math” the boy genius Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz who quickly came up with the 5,050 answer, probably would have been penalized for giving the answer as a product: 50 times 101.

Recently I heard of an arithmetic teacher who would stop at nothing to avoid signed numbers. Such behavior is intolerable, and could be avoided by opening up arithmetic (from the beginning) to all “real numbers.”

Clarence Hanley,

Saranac Lake

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