Arithmetic

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Arithmetic or arithmetics (from the Greek word αριθμός = number) in common usage is a branch of (or the forerunner of) mathematics which records elementary properties of certain operations on numerals, though in usage by professional mathematicians, it often is treated as a synonym for number theory. It is the oldest and simplest branch of mathematics, used widely by almost everyone from simple daily counting to more advanced science and business.

Arithmetic operations

The traditional arithmetic operations are addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, although more advanced operations (such as manipulations of percentages, square root, exponentiation, and logarithmic functions) are also sometimes included in this subject. Arithmetic is performed according to an order of operations.

The arithmetic of natural numbers, integers, rational numbers (in the form of vulgar fractions), and real numbers (using the decimal place-value system known as algorism) is typically studied by schoolchildren, who learn manual algorithms for arithmetic. However, in adult life, many people prefer to use tools such as calculators, computers, or the abacus to perform the more complex arithmetical computations.

Number theory

The term arithmetic is also used to refer to number theory. This includes the properties of integers related to primality, divisibility, and the solution of equations by integers, as well as modern research which is an outgrowth of this study. It is in this context that one runs across the fundamental theorem of arithmetic and arithmetic functions. A Course in Arithmetic by Serre reflects this usage, as do such phrases as first order arithmetic or arithmetical algebraic geometry.

See also