# does the abacus have a real advantage ?

#1
4 June, 2016 - 04:17

#### does the abacus have a real advantage ?

Hi guys,

I wonder if you put time and effort used to learn the abacus in just solving allot of mental math problems by thinking of numbers like ( secrets of mental math by Arthur T. Benjamin ). Will that be better. You take too much time and training to be able to visualize the abacus and keep numbers in your head. If you put the same effort in just doing allot of math problems just by thinking of the numbers the classical way , would that be better ?

thanks in advance

Ummmm, This trains two entirely different skills that are likely both worth exploring for different reasons.

Soroban is the mental visual manipulation of the abacus. An abacus is a machine. You move the beads and in the end you interpret the result. It removes mental calculation from the process and allows for insanely fast translation of numbers to beads on a string.

I strongly suspect that training your mental visualization skills at speed is a pretty good starting point to developing better general visualization speed and accuracy... Assuming the skills were developed more generally over time....

Mental calculation does not rely on our visual memory very much at all except that it is easier to look at what you are calculating than to look away or calculate without the image of the initial numbers.

Mental calculation seems to develop numeracy and the ability to hold and manipulate symbolic concepts faster and or with more complexity. Again this is likely a skill that is only generalizable through generalized practice; logic, rhetoric, art.

Memory/study skills which are the more common topic of this forum fill another space in the foundation...

There are more; from mindfulness to gymnastics to nutrition and social interaction that could be productively developed and then integrated if one was interested in being something more than a simple worker drone. The challenges of life often interfere and motivation is a limited resource.

Feynman vs the Soroban

http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~elf/abacus/feynman.html

FYI Feynman was a Nobel winning physicist with very strong mental calculation skills

I started 2,5 years ago with the Soroban. Before I started this challange I was a good calculator (doing day of the week, squareroot approximation, logarithm, sine ...) with a above average short term and long term memory for numbers. But I was not really fast in addition and subtraction with multi digits. Also I was slow in multiplication from left to right. I reached the 1. kyu level with soroban after one year. Then I practice anzan, multiplication, division and squareroots with the mental image of a soroban. Every 2-3 months I can visualize one rod more. Today I can calculate 5-digit x 4-digit in 15 seconds. To get better I solve every day about 200 multiplications and 250 divisions (squareroots with the "Memoriad Simulator"). Also I practise Anzan every day 30-45 minutes. My personal big goal is a 5x5 in under 10 seconds.

At first it was difficult to change the calculation method with 23 but it was worth it.

Love the story!

Great story, gave me the precise answer of what I was asking about, thanks

Where did you learn soroban? Is there a good course or book you would recommend?