The term ‘abacus’ allegedly derived from Greek origin – abax, abak – meaning ‘counting frame’ or ‘calculating board’, intended for working with large numbers and sums. Abaci methods were in use centuries before the modern, written numeral system and are still widely used by merchants, traders and clerks in continents such as Asia and Africa.
There are different kinds of abacus around the world.
Soroban is the name of Japanese abacus which has 1 beads on the higher deck and 4 beads on the lower deck. It is modified from the ancient Chinese abacus (Suan Pan).
The ancient Chinese abacus had 2 beads on the higher deck and 5 beads on the lower deck – this is referred to as the 2:5 system. By manipulating the beads, complex arithmetic calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and finding the square root could be carried out efficiently and accurately.
Japan and Korea soon adopted the use of abaci and in the early 1930s, the Japanese modified the original model and presented the 1:4 abacus known as the ‘soroban’.
The soroban, used in Brain Up’s programme, functions on a base -10 system and ultimately gained popularity over the Chinese abacus.
What is Abacus and Soroban?
Soroban is the name of Japanese abacus which has 1 bead on the higher deck and 4 beads on the lower deck.
The upper bead represents the value of 5 while the lower beads represent the value of 1.