 # Mathematics and Mathematicians on The Simpsons: SimpsonsMath.com

History of Fractions Did you know that fractions as we use them today didn't exist in Europe until the 17th century? In fact, at first, fractions weren't even thought of as numbers in their own right at all, just a way of comparing whole numbers with each other. Who first used fractions? Were they always written in the same way? How did fractions reach us here? The word fraction actually comes from the Latin "fractio" which means to break. From as early as 1800 BC, the Egyptians were writing fractions. Here is an example of how the numbers were made up: Could you write down in hieroglyphics? The Egyptians wrote all their fractions using what we call unit fractions. Here is one fifth. Can you work out how to write one sixteenth? They expressed other fractions as the sum of unit fractions, but they weren't allowed to repeat a unit fraction in this addition. But this is not: The huge disadvantage of the Egyptian system for representing fractions is that it is very difficult to do any calculations. was called uncia