Egyptian Fractions

by Nam Nguyen ‘19

Numbers and basic computation appeared in Ancient Egypt as early as 2700 BCE. But you might not know that Ancient Egyptians demanded that every fraction have 1 in the numerator. They wanted to write any rational between 0 and 1 as a sum of such “unit” fractions. Such sums are called Egyptian fractions.
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Figure 1: Egyptian fractions written on a papyrus scroll [1]

There are many ways to write 2/3 as an Egyptian fraction:

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Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 10.07.48 AMNam Nguyen ’19 plans to become a math major. He enjoys playing badminton.