
Elementary Math Fractions, Percentages, Word Problems, Equations, Inequations, Factorization, Expansion 
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March 26th, 2017, 10:42 AM  #1 
Newbie Joined: Mar 2017 From: na Posts: 1 Thanks: 0  easy way to subtract large numbers
Hi, I am looking for an easy way to subtract large numbers without the use of a calculator. Numbers such as: 717299874, 238303931, 279890276, 215879628, 359239774, 825753868, 928942504 Any tips? Thanks, Neta. 
March 26th, 2017, 11:06 AM  #2 
Math Team Joined: Oct 2011 From: Ottawa Ontario, Canada Posts: 12,127 Thanks: 801  
March 26th, 2017, 01:49 PM  #3 
Global Moderator Joined: May 2007 Posts: 6,496 Thanks: 579 
It may be tedious, but elementary school method works fine.

March 29th, 2017, 10:31 AM  #4 
Senior Member Joined: Jan 2014 From: The backwoods of Northern Ontario Posts: 371 Thanks: 68 
When I was in early elementary school I had difficulties with "the borrowing method" of subtraction. I especially found it confusing if there were a lot of zeros in the minuend. Then in grade 5, I was taught that instead of "borrowing" you could add 10 to both the minuend and the subtrahend. Example: 83 46 1. First add 10 to 3 in the minuend to make 13 (just as you would do with the "borrowing" method. 2. then add 10 to the 4 in the subtrahend, so that is becomes 5 tens instead of 4 tens. Subtract 6 from 13 and get 7. Then subtract 5 from 8 to get 3. So the answer is 37. This works fine no matter how large the minuend and the subtrahend. I still use this technique to this day. Last edited by Timios; March 29th, 2017 at 10:35 AM. 
March 30th, 2017, 08:50 AM  #5  
Senior Member Joined: Apr 2014 From: Glasgow Posts: 2,099 Thanks: 703 Math Focus: Physics, mathematical modelling, numerical and computational solutions  Quote:
However, there's a nice mental method for subtraction, outlined below. It is similar in spirit to what Timios posted. Important note... anyone using this method should be comfortable with subtracting using the standard elementary methods first; it does not replace it! Just as an example, I'll consider some smaller numbers... Consider: Code: 7172 2380   1. Go left to right > 2. For a given position: a) Work out what you need to add to the bottom number to make the top number and think of it (e.g. '5') b) take a glance at the next cell to the right. If the lower number is greater than the top number, take one off your number (3 > 1, so my number is now '4') c) say the number out loud or write it down 3. remember that if you subtract one in part c), make sure that when you go to the next position you need to add to make up 10 + digit, not just the digit. 4. go to 2 a). The literal numbers I'm thinking of during the process are '5', '4', '8', '7', '9', '2' with the ones in bold being the ones I say or write down as I'm going through the mental method. So following those steps I obtained the answer as '4792'. I worked it out by doing in my head, but it took me maybe 1012 seconds or so because I haven't practiced it much. With practice you can do it very quickly and for large numbers too. Note that if you're saying the digits, your answer will be read out as "four, seven, nine, two" rather than "four thousand, seven hundred and ninety two".  
March 30th, 2017, 09:02 AM  #6 
Math Team Joined: Oct 2011 From: Ottawa Ontario, Canada Posts: 12,127 Thanks: 801 
7172 2380 Subtract 2400 : 4772 Add 20: 4792 Ahem! 
March 30th, 2017, 02:53 PM  #7 
Senior Member Joined: Jul 2008 From: Western Canada Posts: 3,864 Thanks: 39 
If you find it easier to add than subtract, then you can convert the subtrahend to its tens complement. Using the example of 71722380: Code: 7172 2380 You convert 2380 to its tens complement by subtracting each digit from 9 (yes you still have some simple subtractions, but there are no borrows) and then adding one. The tens complement is: Code: 9999 2380 ––––– 7619 +1 ––––– 7620 So the tens complement of 2380 is 7620. Now just add 7172+7620 and lop off the most significant digit: Code: 7172 +7620 ––––– 14792 
April 18th, 2017, 03:34 PM  #8 
Senior Member Joined: Jan 2014 From: The backwoods of Northern Ontario Posts: 371 Thanks: 68 
It's a great method, Yooklid! But I think you means the NINES complement. 
April 19th, 2017, 11:47 PM  #9 
Senior Member Joined: Jul 2008 From: Western Canada Posts: 3,864 Thanks: 39 
No. Nines complement is what you get by subtracting each digit from nine, but when you add one to that result you get the tens complement.

April 25th, 2017, 05:05 PM  #10 
Senior Member Joined: Jan 2014 From: The backwoods of Northern Ontario Posts: 371 Thanks: 68 
So when you say "the tens complement" you are referring to the final digit only? For all the other digits, it is the nines complement. In any case, I am fascinated with the technique! I have never encountered it before. 

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