Numbers #12

Subitizing: The ability to recognize(or guess) the number of a small group of objects without counting.

The name subitizing comes from the Latin word “subitus” which means “sudden”.

Subitizing can be seen in many every-day activities. One of them is a six-pack soda. No matter how they are lined up, we know that the number of soda bottles is 6. We inherit this knowledge without counting the bottles. And if we decide to drink one of them, we automatically know(without having to count them) that the number of soda bottles left is 5.

You don’t have to count the dots on the surfaces. You just know that it is 5.

Another example of subitizing can be given from the game backgammon. Assume that two dices are rolled and you identify them as 2 and 5. The process of identifying the dices can be measured in milliseconds. This can be even shortened as you spend more time playing the game. In short; subitizing is a skill that can be developed if one spends time and work on it.

Research studies showed that 6-month olds can differentiate, visually (a top bounces 3 times) and from sounds (clapping hands 3 times), between 1, 2, and even 3. In other words; humans start developing the number concept when they are just infants.

Kebab Truck & Subitizing
Subitizing is hidden behind the number of customer groups in the game of Kebab Truck. As the game is played, scores become higher and higher. The reason behind this is that players’ subitizing skills are improving.

Let’s check this scene from Kebab Truck:

In the beginning, you will be making certain moves during the game. Nevertheless, in time, your moves will differ substantially. The biggest reason behind this is that your subitizing skills were improved while you were playing the game.

Kebab Truck also helps the players to develop their basic arithmetic skills. These improvements are not limited to adding and subtracting the number of customers. Once you understand how the scoring system formulated, you will realize that (to maximize your scoring) multiplication is an important part of this game as well.

Real Mathematics – Numbers #11

A very long time ago in Mesopotamia, a few hundreds of people lived together in the village of Badaks. Badaks were very hard-working people, and they were among the first farmer communities. Their lives depended on two things more than anything: Their farms and sheep.

Monday syndrome in Badaks village…

There was a lot of sheep in the village of Badaks. Thanks to them, people of Badaks were able to protect themselves from cold weather. Their milk and meat were also important to Badaks as food sources. Because of their importance, the person in charge of the sheep had to be wise and trustworthy.

Zaylin a.k.a. the protector of sheep!

Zaylin, head of Badaks, was in charge of this crucial duty.

Every day, with the first sunlight, Zaylin took the sheep out of their pens for them to explore the hills and graze the green grass of the village of Badaks. Before the sun is gone, Zaylin had to gather the sheep and be sure that every sheep returned to the pens.

Omg! Where are the rest of you?!

Even though Badaks were one of the most progressive communities of their time, they didn’t know the use of numbers like the rest of humanity.

At this point, Zaylin had a bit of a problem: How did he know that he returned with the same number of sheep as left in the morning? Don’t get me wrong; Zaylin was an intelligent person for his time. But like everybody else, he didn’t know how to count.

One wonders…

Put yourself in Zaylin’s shoes: Is it possible to detect if you lost any sheep or not when you finish a day without counting or any use of numbers?

M. Serkan Kalaycıoğlu