Definitions for napier's bones

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Princeton's WordNet

  1. Napier's bones, Napier's rods(noun)

    a set of graduated rods formerly used to do multiplication and division by a method invented by John Napier

Webster Dictionary

  1. Napier's bones

    alt. of Napier's rods

Freebase

  1. Napier's bones

    Napier's bones is an abacus created by John Napier of Merchiston for calculation of products and quotients of numbers. The method was based on Arab mathematics and the lattice multiplication used by Matrakci Nasuh in the Umdet-ul Hisab and Fibonacci's work in his Liber Abaci. The technique was also called Rabdology. Napier published his version in 1617 in Rabdologiæ, printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, dedicated to his patron Alexander Seton. Using the multiplication tables embedded in the rods, multiplication can be reduced to addition operations and division to subtractions. More advanced use of the rods can even extract square roots. Note that Napier's bones are not the same as logarithms, with which Napier's name is also associated. The abacus consists of a board with a rim; the user places Napier's rods in the rim to conduct multiplication or division. The board's left edge is divided into 9 squares, holding the numbers 1 to 9. The Napier's rods consist of strips of wood, metal or heavy cardboard. Napier's bones are three dimensional, square in cross section, with four different rods engraved on each one. A set of such bones might be enclosed in a convenient carrying case.

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