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The contemporary system of number notation in use in most parts of the world today is the Arabic system, first developed by the Hindus and in use in India in the 3rd century BC. The Hindu numeral system was probably introduced into the Arab world about the 7th or 8th century AD. The first recorded use of the system in Europe was in 976 AD.

The important innovation of this system was the use of positional notation, made possible by the use of a symbol for zero. This makes it possible to distinguish between 11, 101, and 1001 without the use of additional symbols. Positional notation also greatly simplifies all forms of written numerical calculation.

The number one has often been given philosophical and even divine attributes: in many religions it symbolizes the oneness of God, and as such has often been equated with the infinite (the omnipotence of the Creator).

Aristotle thought that one was not really a number, as it is the generator of all numbers but cannot itself be generated (2 = 1 + 1, 3 = 2 + 1, etc.)

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