Learn Expert Strategies for Counting on Your Fingers (Video)

Chris Higgins
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I do a lot of counting on my fingers. The only problem with this is that I only get up to 10. After that I use a (very faulty) mental counter to track the number of tens I have counted. This often fails.

In this TED-Ed video, we see a bunch of strategies for finger-counting that range from simple to utterly impractical (but mathematically interesting). The most intriguing thing about this video is that there is a very easy method to count up to 48 using your fingers (or 24 using just one hand). It involves counting the segments of each digit (and the joints between them), using the thumb as a pointer to track your place.

The video then proceeds to detail methods that go well over 500 (and then over 1,000 using binary, and into the tens of thousands using base 3), but my ability to keep track of those systems becomes foggy pretty fast.

So if you're curious how to count to 48 (or potentially a lot more) using your fingers, tune in:

There's a bit more information on this TED-Ed page. Wikipedia also has a pretty good text-only discussion of finger-counting.