This question about past cultures using non-base-10 systems is quite popular. The meat of the question was:

Have any non decimal numbering systems been used frequently in the past? If so, what were they?

I could see an argument for this question being categorized as a "big list" and "too broad," and therefore should be closed. Sure, there is a single answer of "yes there have been," but the question asks for examples of such cultures.

On the other hand, I think the history of bases is interesting and I want to read more.

Would it be useful for our community to describe why this should be on topic?


3 Answers 3


I agree I was a bit worried about it when I saw how many answers there were - and clearly there is scope for more similar answers to turn up.

Might it work better if there was a collated answer summarising all the others?


Yes I think it is on topic - "History of Mathematics" surely?

But yes it is a bit of a "big list" question.

  • $\begingroup$ In my experience big list questions are typically closed. Why should this one remain open? $\endgroup$
    – BMS
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 20:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can be on topic but still be a big list. Perhaps it should be re-worded to not be a big list? $\endgroup$
    – winwaed
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @winwaed I agree, it shouldn't take much to reword the question to put a greater emphasis on the history aspect $\endgroup$
    – user22
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 21:34

Lock it for history reasons. It's not good but it's a valued question, but be clear that those questions are frowned upon.


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