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Abacus: Tool to perform Mathematical Calculations

An abacus is a tool that was used for calculation. It has a frame with rows of grooves or wires or rods with beads in it, which will slide.

In ancient times, in countries like China and Russia, Abacus was used even before the number system was introduced. No one knows how the abacus was invented or which country was the first founder of the abacus.

The abacus is made up of the number of rows made of movable beads. These beads represent digits. Using an abacus you can perform all the basic arithmetic operations like addition, multiplication, subtraction, division, finding out of Square, Square Roots, Cubes, and Cube Roots.


Each country has made use of its own way to design Abacus. In this Abacus, they focused on beads, though the design might be different.

Some Made abacus with rods, Some made with bamboo sticks, and many more.

Previously, Abacus was used just for addition and subtraction but eventually, people around the globe explored more usage of this tool. In today’s era, the abacus is used for multiple purposes like arithmetics by dividing the beads into 10.

In Japan, it is used for practical calculations. Using their abacus you can calculate for several digits, not just up to one to ten. Using this tool apart from performing the basic operations we can work on Square, Cube, Square roots, and Cube Roots.

Most of the Countries still use Abacus to teach their kids mathematics using the abacus. Those who are visually impaired make use of the abacus instead of using an abacus.

Advantages of Using Abacus

People are using the abacus as a source of learning form a long time as they are getting benefits from it.

  1. There are a lot of advantages for the kids who are using the abacus. Using the abacus, as a teacher, it will be easier for you to each kid’s mathematics.
  2. Abacus has been used in Schools for years. So it is a proven fact that kids will enjoy learning mathematics using an abacus.
  3. Using Abacus, kids can strengthen their basement in mathematics. They can learn all the basics of Mathematics like Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Square, Square Roots, Cube, Cube Roots.
Advantages of Using Abacus

Disadvantages of Abacus

Abacus has got a lot of limitations. 

  1. Using the Abacus Learning Methodology one needs to have an Abacus tool.
  2. Using the abacus you can teach the students who are in the primary section. Abacus is not suitable for students who want to do Advance Mathematics.
  3. Using Abacus you cant solve the complex problems. To solve the complex problems you need to know Vedic Mathematics.
Disadvantages of Abacus

Difference between Abacus and Vedic Mathematics

There is a lot of difference in both. Let’s learn in-depth.

To Learn Abacus you Need to have a tool But in Vedic Mathematics you don’t need to have any such kind of tools.

Abacus will be helpful for Kids who would be Learning Mathematics but Vedic Mathematics is for both the beginners and advanced level students.

Abacus is limited to only certain concepts, but Vedic Math doesn’t have such kind of limitations.

If you learn abacus, then to learn advanced mathematics one has to learn Vedic mathematics or traditional mathematics.

No one knows where the abacus was first made and used, but Vedic Mathematics is taken from a book which was written by Bharati Krishna Tirtha.

Abacus for Kids

Many schools and colleges around the globe have implemented the concept of Abacus for kids. Kids at the early stage of their life would be eager to learn new things.

Having a tool in their hand will make them learn faster. So at an early age, the Abacus Classes, Abacus Workshops should be conducted for children so that it will boost up the interest of children in mathematics.

In the Abacus Classes, with the help of a tool, they can learn to count, learn to do basic arithmetic calculations. Even before they would enter into the primary class, they would be having a handful of knowledge of mathematics, which will help them to learn things much better.

Using the Abacus tools, Kids will not only learn math but they do play a lot of mathematical games.

Abacus Training:

In many parts of the world, Abacus became an important part of learning. Many Schools and Colleges made it mandatory to make the kids use the abacus tool. Not only Students, Parents, and Teachers are also taking part in the training session that they can learn the usage of the abacus and teach their kids on an abacus.

How to use Abacus?

Abacus is made up of a bead frame. It has straight wires.

Each bead represents one unit ( For Example, If you want to represent number 74 then shift all beads on 7 wires and 4 beads on the 8th wire.

To perform multiplication, e.g. if you want to multiple 6 and 7 then you should shift 7 beads on 6 wires.

To more about Abacus, you can read the article on Suanpan written by columbia education.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do you use an abacus?

To use the abacus you have to move the beads as per your calculations.

Who invented the abacus?

Abacus is said to be first invented and used by the Chinese in 500 BC while some mathematicians, historians, and researchers claim that the abacus was first made in Babylonians in 300 BC.

What Abacus means?

Abacus is an English term that means to an instrument to perform calculations by sliding counters along rods.

What is taught in Abacus?

Using Abacus, Teachers teach the kids to perform calculations like addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division, Teachers also teach effective counting of decimal points, negative numbers, etc. 

Are Abacus still used today?

Yes, In most of the nursery and primary schools in India and around the globe, Abacus is still taught. Kids still love to use Abacus to learn mathematics.

Is Abacus the first computer?

A computer is a device which is used to calculate, before the invention of the computer, the abacus was used to calculate. So considerably, one can say that abacus was used as a tool to calculate and it was the first computer. This tool was been used even the term computer was been coined.

What replaced the abacus?

Nothing can replace the abacus. Though there are a lot of new tools and techniques and methodologies that are been used to teach kids mathematics, still even today, many are still using the traditional way of learning.

Which type of Abacus is best?

An Abacus tool Measuring 33 cm by 20 cm is considered as best, it is a combination of the Japanese Sorobon (4+1) and the Chinese Suanpan (5+2) structure. Using this abacus one can perform complex calculations like the extraction of the square roots. Hence this is considered the most efficient form of the abacus.

How many beads are in Abacus?

According to the Abacus, there are beads. Like there are two beads at the top and five beads on the bottom in the Chinese abacus ( the classical abacus ). one bead at the top and four beads at the bottom in the Japanese abacus (The modern abacus).

How do I teach my 5-year-old abacus?

To teach a 5 years old kid Abacus, you need to have an abacus tool first. It may be either the classical abacus tool or the modern abacus tool. You need to know how to perform the calculations tools. 

What is the right age to start abacus?

To enhance the kid’s mathematics and to build a strong foundation for them, you can teach your kids abacus at the age of 3 to 5 years.

How do you calculate abacus?

Using Abacus, To count a single number, move the relevant number of beads towards the bar. Say, to count the number 9 move the bottom bead in the upper deck and four beads from the lower deck to the bar. To count the number 1, move the top bead in the lower deck of the ones wire up to the bar.

Is Abacus good for the child?

As per the experience taken from the Abacus workshop, children tend to forget the things, when they are learning something new soon and they get stressed up, but with help of abacus, the case is different. they tend to remember more. Abacus is definitely good for children as it not only reduces the strain on the kids but also increases the memory and makes the learning faster with fun.

How do I teach my 5-year-old tables?

The best suggestion would come if you approach any mathematical experts about the best mathematical learning methodology for kids would be abacus.

Can adults learn abacus?

There is no limitation for anyone who wants to learn abacus. Anyone can learn abacus anytime. From the kids to adults, from the students to teachers and parents, anyone can learn abacus.

Is Abacus good or bad?

Abacus is definitely good. But it comes with limitations. It needs a tool and is mostly used by kids. You cant perform more complex calculations.

What were the disadvantages of the Abacus?

A few of the major disadvantages are:

1) You cant learn abacus without a tool.

2) You need to learn the abacus tool before using it.

3) You cant perform complex calculations.

4) Using Abacus one cant keep a track of results if they are performing multiple calculations.

What is the advantage of the abacus?

A few of the Advantages of the abacus is:

1) Kids love abacus. They love o play using the beads which makes them learn maths faster.

2) Abacus is easy to learn. It doesn’t take much time to learn. 

3) Abacus is the best way to get rid of the fear of maths from kids.

4) Kids can learn maths without getting bored.

What are the different types of abacus?

There are different kins of Abacus. Here is the list:

  • Arithmetic Rekenrek.
  • Binary Abacus.
  • Chinese Abacus.
  • Cranmer Abacus.
  • Japanese Abacus.
  • Lee’s Abacus.
  • Roman Abacus.
  • Russian Abacus.

How does Abacus help brain development?

Abacus will help in brain development in different ways. It will improve Accuracy, Creativity, Concentration, Listening Skills, Memory, Self Confidence, Self-Reliance, Speed, Visualization (photographic memory).

What is an abacus competition?

It is a competition that is held around the globe based on mathematical learning on Abacus. There are a few criteria to participate in this competition.

What is a soroban abacus?

soroban abacus is an abacus developed in Japan. It was has adopted the concept of the Chinese abacus and enhanced it in the 14th century. Using this abacus, one can perform a bit complex calculations like finding out the square and square roots and cube and cube roots.

Did Romans use an abacus?

Yes, Romans used an abacus. They had made their own abacus. This abacus was their first portable calculating device. This device was been used by engineers, merchants, and tax collectors.

How many beads are there in the Japanese abacus?

In the Japanese Abacus, there are 5 beads per rod. Each rod represents a digit from 0 to 9.

Can I learn abacus online?

Yes, You can learn abacus online. There are a series of videos on how to learn abacus, which will be useful for you.

How old is the abacus?

It is said that the abacus was been first used in China around 300 to 500 BC. So according to these dates, the abacus is almost 5,000 years old.

What is the scope of learning abacus in India?

In India, may schools are using the abacus to teach the kids who are around 3 to 7 years old.

Which is better, Vedic Math or Abacus?

There is a lot of difference between Vedic math and abacus. Both have different approaches to learning. Abacus is best for kids but Vedic Math is best for both kids and adults. So, as compared to Abacus Vedic Mathematics is much better. As one clearly knows, learn Vedic Mathematics one needs not to have any kind of tools. 

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