Abacus v. Calculator

Is the Abacus Better than a Calculator? YES!

bannerWhile the events below took place many years ago, results of skilled Abacus students performing against people using calculators are still the same. Children and adults from Abacus math schools generally are able to solve math problems faster than those using calculators. Because Abacus math teaches the principals of mental math, students can solve problems faster because they need not race to press several number keys, and press them accurately. The ability to do mental math as a result of Abacus training simply leads to an ease with numbers and calculations those who aren’t trained just don’t have.

On November 12, 1946, a contest was held in Tokyo between the Japanese Soroban, used by Kiyoshi Matsuzaki, and an electric calculator, operated by US Army Private Thomas Nathan Wood. The bases for scoring in the contest were speed and accuracy of results in all four basic arithmetic operations and a problem which combines all four. The Soroban won 4 to 1, with the electric calculator prevailing in multiplication.

About the event, the Nippon Times newspaper reported that “Civilization … tottered” that day, while the Stars and Stripes newspaper described the Soroban’s “decisive” victory as an event in which “the machine age took a step backward….”

The breakdown of results is as follows:

  • Five additions problems for each heat, each problem consisting of 50 three- to six-digit numbers. The Soroban won in two successive heats.
  • Five subtraction problems for each heat, each problem having six- to eight-digit minuends and subtrahends. The Soroban won in the first and third heats; the second heat was a no contest.
  • Five multiplication problems, each problem having five- to 12-digit factors. The calculator won in the first and third heats; the Soroban won on the second.
  • Five division problems, each problem having five- to 12-digit dividends and divisors. The Soroban won in the first and third heats; the calculator won on the second.
  • A composite problem which the Soroban answered correctly and won on this round. It consisted of:
    • An addition problem involving 30 six-digit numbers
    • Three subtraction problems, each with two six-digit numbers
    • Three multiplication problems, each with two figures containing a total of five to twelve digits
    • Three division problems, each with two figures containing a total of five to twelve digits

Even with the improvement of technology involving calculators, students of the Soroban Abacus remain more skilled in mental math, not to mention enhanced skills of concentration and focus in other areas.

Source : Wikipedia


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