**A Matter of Multiplication**

No, this has nothing to do with salvation of the species. It does have to do with the inability of our young people to do arithmatic multiplication. Although I’m not certain of this, it appears to me that they no longer teach our kids to memorize the multiplication tables, as we had to do – up to the number 12. Somewhere I read that modern teachers think it is horrible to have had older generations do the rote work of memorizing every result from 1 times 1 to 12 times 12. Well, it wasn’t easy but it sure made later life easier especially when doing such mundane things as making change and calculating the tip.

I don’t know how today’s young business people would cope without the calculator and automatic cash registers. So what happens when they’re without those aids? They have to do it the long way but even that way requires some method of determining what the solution is when you multiply two simple numbers. Let’s take the problem:

87 X 93

First they have to set it up so it reads 87

__X 93__and then face the daunting problem, what is 3 times 7, then carry the two and what is 3 times 8 etc,

If they do it right they should end up with: 261

__783__

8091

I doubt that the public school student could master this method without knowing the tables. There is, however, a system that avoids that pitfall. It is the way Russians have been doing multiplication all their lives. Here is how Russian kids solve the same problem:

First they take the 87 and create a column dividing each previous number by 2 to the nearest possible value ignoring fractional leftovers. Then they take the 93 and create a second column next to the first column in which they double the previous number each time so they end up with:

87 93

43 186

21 372

10 744

5 1488

2 2976

1 5952

You see all that was necessary is to know how to divide and multiply by two.

Now they look at the first column and, wherever they find an even number they eliminate its matching number from the second column. In this case they find the 10 and eliminate the 744, and for the 2 they eliminate the 2976. Then they simply add up the remaining numbers in the second column, ergo:

93

186

372

1488

__5952__

8091

Voila! It works every time. If our kids are too lazy to learn the tables and the teachers too impatient to wait while they do so then let’s force them to at least learn the Russian way. They couldn’t have been too shabby. After all, they got a man into space before we did. We only made it with a monkey.