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Title: On the Egyptian method of decomposing 2/n into unit fractions
Authors: Abdulaziz, Abdulrahman Ali 
Affiliations: Department of Mathematics 
Keywords: Rhind papyrus
Egyptian fraction
Issue Date: 2008
Part of: Journal of historia mathematica
Volume: 35
Issue: 1
Start page: 1
End page: 18
A fraction whose numerator is one is called a unit fraction. Unit fractions have been the source of one of the most intriguing mysteries about the mathematics of antiquity. Except for 2/3, the ancient Egyptians expressed all fractions as sums of unit fractions. In particular, The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (RMP) contains the decomposition of 2/n as the sum of unit fractions for odd n ranging from 5 to 101. The way 2/n was decomposed has been widely debated and no general method that works for all n has ever been discovered. In this paper we provide an elementary procedure that reproduces the decompositions as found in the RMP.
DOI: 10.1016/
Ezproxy URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Department of Mathematics

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