Tally Numeral System

The simplest numeral system is called the tally numeral system. There are examples of ancient people living in caves using the tally system for counting objects. In this system, stokes (straight lines) are used to count the objects, and one single stoke is used for each object.

We shall now show how to count objects by using stokes, for example by counting 1, 2 or 3 objects.

1 2 3
I II III

Every system has some advantages and disadvantages, and this numeral system has only one advantage and two disadvantages. The advantage of this system is simplicity, while the disadvantages are for large number it requires lot of stokes, and it it is rather complicated to read such a large number.

If we want to write 50 stokes it is very difficult to write such a large number, so to overcome this difficulty we make groups of five strokes, i.e. we place the fifth tally mark diagonally across every four strokes. For example, if we count to 20 using the tally numeral system, it is easy and fast to count the numbers using the grouping technique. We see this technique is widely used nowadays in statistics; for the construction of frequency distribution against each frequency we use tally marks to count the frequency.