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How To Use A Chinese Abacus: A step-by-step guide to addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, roots and more. Paperback – March 12, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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About the Author

Winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Paul Green (1894-1981) taught philosophy and drama at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a native of Harnett County, North Carolina.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1460958810
  • ISBN-13: 978-1460958810
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,751,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A number of reviews and comments here are from people looking for an abacus to teach their kids arithmetic ( an excellent idea BTW). So I thought I would explain the difference between the various kinds of abacus and their merits. I haven't bought this book but I am an avid abacus user and I thought these comments might help.

There are three main types of abacus, the Japanese Soroban, the Chinese Suan Pan and the 10 bead Western abacus often seen as the Russian Schotty.

The Japanese Soroban with 1 top bead & 4 lower beads (1/4 configuration) is the most sophisticated device for base 10 arithmetic. If this is what you want to do or if you want to teach your child, this is the best choice IMO. Older Soroban have 5 lower beads. The extra bead is unnecessary but it has some advantages, one being that you can actually see the carry bead when doing a multi column carry or borrow e.g 999 +1. With 4 lower beads, the carry bead is implicit until you get to the last column. This is helpful when beginning but after a while one outgrows the need for this. I recommend one of the cheap plastic ones with different colors for each row which are available on ebay for less than $10.

The Chinese Suan Pan is the most complex and perhaps the most powerful design. Its 2/5 configuration is designed to be able to handle hexadecimal arithmetic (base 16). It can handle base 10 just fine but the extra beads are confusing and although the advanced user will find ways to use them in base 10 calculation, they would not help a child grasp basic concepts.

Both the Soroban and the Suan Pan depend heavily on complement arithmetic, a very efficient and easy way to add or subtract with a carry.
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I've given this book a thorough run-through now and the conclusion I've come to is that it teaches absolutely nothing worthwhile.

The entire explanation of how to use an Abacus is completely obvious and lacking any method. For example, in addition there is an example of adding 6421 + 425. When adding 400 to 6421, it says in column 3 (4 + 4): "Upper deck, register1 bead to add 500; lower deck, unregister 1 bead to minus 100." Obvious.

The proper way to perform 4 + 4 on an abacus is to consider the complement of 4 with regards to 5. The complements with regard to 5 are (4 & 1) and (3 & 2). Since we cannot add 4 more beads to the lower register, we set the 5 bead on the upper register and subtract the compliment of 4, which is 1. The book doesn't touch the concept of complementary numbers on 10 or 5.

The difference is subtle. The explanation that you add 5 and then subtract 1 (as 5 - 1 = 4) to add 4 is correct; however, it requires mental calculations. The explanation of complementary numbers on 5 (4 & 1) and (3 & 2) and complementary numbers on 10 (9 & 1) (8 & 2) (7 & 3) (6 & 4) (5 & 5) makes much abacus work mechanical. It's the same difference as teaching someone to compute (97 - 105) via the borrowing method rather than telling them to instead compute (105 - 97) and make the result negative.

Sections on Multiplication and such necessarily require more solid theory.

Heffelfinger & Flom have a better guide online.
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This is a great book on a hard to find subject. Gives clear step-by-step instructions as well as practise problems and history. If you want to learn the abacus, this book is all you'll need
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I bought this book wanting to learn how to use an abacus and have had no previous experience- I'm pretty sure I hadn't even held one before. This book is very easy to read and the directions are very clear. I strongly suggest it!
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This is just the book I was looking for to help me understand and use the Abacus. I had tried others and they just did not go into the detail needed. It is fantastic. Lots of examples all beautifully illustrated with diagrams. It even covers the difficult topics like square and cube roots. I'm sure others will find it helpful too.
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I'm arithmetic-disabled.

Calculators
a) are disallowed in some exams ( due to programmability )
b) require batteries ( unless solar )
c) are fragile, and
d) are usually engineered to force a bogus delay
to make the user feel that the machine is thinking,
when it had the answer in a few milliseconds!
( which I find incredibly offensive, like much of the Mac OS...
work at MY speed, my technology, or get out of my face!
using technology to "conformize" humanity into belonging,
dumbed-down culture is simply offensive to me. )

An abacus, however, SHOWS me what's going on,
( it is ME doing the work,
it is the abacus keeping the numbers in order! ).

It isn't capable of being scrambled by electrical pulse of any sort.

It isn't programmable,
thereby wouldn't be disallowed from helping me in any such test/challenge
as what many students face, daily...

I can make one to fit my belt ( geek to teh last:
'tis a spoof of "calculator on one's belt", see...
maybe it'll become a fashion-statement, someday? :)

and I can make 1 small, for helping me when shopping
( 13 or less columns, mostly for addition, then the taxes ),
and 1 big, for helping me with programming stuff
( the Chinese-style can do hexadecimal arithmetic,
unlike the Japanese Soroban ).

Beadaholique, here on Amazon, has wooden 8mm beads,
and they should fit 1/12" dowels right ( 2.5mm holes ),
so I need only get the dowels, beads, wood for the frame, & a brad-point drill bit for those dowels,
and I'll have all the means I need to MAKE my own abacusses!

I'm thankful for this book:
I prefer to live out in the middle of nowhere,
and not *needing* electricity, or worse, *batteries*, is a Good Thing[tm], eh?

Recommended, if you want to become CAPABLE with these things.
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