Counting is the action of finding the number of elements of a finite set of objects. The traditional way of counting consists of continually increasing a (mental or spoken) counter by a unit for every element of the set, in some order, while marking (or displacing) those elements to avoid visiting the same element more than once, until no unmarked elements are left; if the counter was set to one after the first object, the value after visiting the final object gives the desired number of elements. The related term enumeration refers to uniquely identifying the elements of a finite (combinatorial) set or infinite set by assigning a number to each element.
Counting sometimes involves numbers other than one; for example, when counting money, counting out change, when "counting by twos" (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, ...) or when "counting by fives" (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, ...).
There is archeological evidence suggesting that humans have been counting for at least 50,000 years. Counting was primarily used by ancient cultures to keep track of social and economic data such as number of group members, prey animals, property or debts (i.e., accountancy). The development of counting led to the development of mathematical notation, numeral systems and writing.
Famous quotes containing the word counting:
“But counting up to two
Is harder to do....”
—Philip Larkin (19221986)
“If youre counting my eyebrows, I can help you. There are two.”
—Billy Wilder (b. 1906)
“If all power is in the people, if there is no higher law than their will, and if by counting their votes, their will may be ascertainedthen the people may entrust all their power to anyone, and the power of the pretender and the usurper is then legitimate. It is not to be challenged since it came originally from the sovereign people.”
—Walter Lippmann (18891974)