Although the Hindu–Arabic numeral system (i. e. decimal) was developed by Indian mathematicians around AD 500, quite different forms for the digits were used initially. They were modified into Arabic numerals later in North Africa. It was in the Algerian city of Bejaia that the Italian scholar Fibonacci first encountered the numerals; his work was crucial in making them known throughout Europe. European trade, books, and colonialism helped popularize the adoption of Arabic numerals around the world. The numerals have found worldwide use significantly beyond the contemporary spread of the Latin alphabet, intruding into the writing systems in regions where other variants of the Hindu–Arabic numerals had been in use, such as Chinese and Japanese writing.
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