On Picture-Writing*

  • G. Polya
Part of the Modern Birkhäuser Classics book series (MBC)


To write “sun”, “moon” and “tree” in picture-writing, one draws simply a circle, a crescent and some simplified, conventionalized picture of a tree, respectively. Picture-writing was used by some tribes of red Indians and it may well be that more advanced systems of writing evolved everywhere from this primitive system. And so picture-writing may be the ultimate source of the Greek, Latin and Gothic alphabets, the letters of which we currently use as mathematical symbols. I wish to observe that also the primitive picture-writing may be of some use in mathematics.


Simple Tree Geometric Series Ultimate Source Figurate Series Mathematical Symbol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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    D. König, Theorie der endlichen und unendlichen Graphen, Leipzig, 1936. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Boston, a part of Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Polya
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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