### Negative numbers

The "natural" numbers **N**: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, ...
Good for counting things (e.g. sheep), and so been around throughout history.

It is true that it took a very long time before humans invented a symbol for zero. On the other hand, "no sheep" probably was a distressingly common concept for early man, and since it is synonymous with "zero sheep" I include 0 among the godgiven numbers.

At some point in history, we found it necessary to do basic accounting, not only of the sheep you might have, but also of those you owed the local strongman. Negative numbers turned out to be a splendid idea:

"I have -5 sheep" can serve as a summary of "I've got 12 sheep in the barn, but I also owe Carlos 17 sheep".
Voila:

... -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, ... "**the integers**", **Z**.

Briefly on sheep

Bjørn Ian Dundas
2017-07-21 14:40:56 UTC