The historical evolution of the “+” sign is an interesting journey that spans several centuries:
- Early Symbols: The origins of the “+” sign can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, the hieroglyphic symbol representing the concept of “addition” resembled a horizontal line with a dot above and below it. Similarly, in ancient Rome, the Latin word “et” meaning “and” was often abbreviated as a combination of the letters “e” and “t,” which resembled a plus sign.
- Medieval Usage: During the Middle Ages, the use of various symbols for addition emerged in different parts of Europe. One notable symbol was a “p” with a horizontal line above it, representing the Latin word “plus” meaning “more.” This symbol evolved over time, eventually transforming into a simplified form resembling the modern “+” sign.
- Mathematical Renaissance: The Renaissance period witnessed advancements in mathematics and the widespread adoption of algebraic notation. The use of the “+” symbol gained popularity as a convenient and concise way to represent addition in mathematical equations. Its usage became more standardized and prominent in mathematical texts.
- Formalization and Universal Adoption: In the 16th and 17th centuries, with the development of mathematical notation and the establishment of algebra as a discipline, the “+” sign became more formally recognized. Mathematicians like Robert Recorde and Johann Rahn played significant roles in promoting the universal adoption of the “+” symbol for addition.
- Modern Usage: Since the formalization of mathematical notation, the “+” sign has become an integral part of mathematical language worldwide. It is used not only for addition but also in various contexts, such as indicating positive numbers, signifying positive charges in physics, and symbolizing positive attributes in other disciplines.
Throughout history, the “+” sign has evolved from ancient hieroglyphs and Latin abbreviations to its recognizable form today. Its development and widespread acceptance demonstrate the evolution and standardization of mathematical notation, allowing for clearer communication and efficient representation of mathematical operations.