1.1: Introduction to Whole Numbers (Part 1)
 Last updated
 Save as PDF
 Page ID
 21654
 OpenStax
 Mathematics at OpenStax CNX
Skills to Develop
 Identify counting numbers and whole numbers
 Model whole numbers
 Identify the place value of a digit
 Use place value to name whole numbers
 Use place value to write whole numbers
 Round whole numbers
Identify Counting Numbers and Whole Numbers
Learning algebra is similar to learning a language. You start with a basic vocabulary and then add to it as you go along. You need to practice often until the vocabulary becomes easy to you. The more you use the vocabulary, the more familiar it becomes.
Algebra uses numbers and symbols to represent words and ideas. Let’s look at the numbers first. The most basic numbers used in algebra are those we use to count objects: \(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, …\) and so on. These are called the counting numbers. The notation “…” is called an ellipsis, which is another way to show “and so on”, or that the pattern continues endlessly. Counting numbers are also called natural numbers.
Definition: Counting Numbers
The counting numbers start with \(1\) and continue.
\(1, 2, 3, 4, 5 \ldots \)
Counting numbers and whole numbers can be visualized on a number line as shown in Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\).
Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): The numbers on the number line increase from left to right, and decrease from right to left.
The point labeled \(0\) is called the origin. The points are equally spaced to the right of 0 and labeled with the counting numbers. When a number is paired with a point, it is called the coordinate of the point.
The discovery of the number zero was a big step in the history of mathematics. Including zero with the counting numbers gives a new set of numbers called the whole numbers.
Definition: Whole Numbers
The whole numbers are the counting numbers and zero.
\(0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 \ldots\)
We stopped at \(5\) when listing the first few counting numbers and whole numbers. We could have written more numbers if they were needed to make the patterns clear.
Example \(\PageIndex{1}\): Number Identification
Which of the following are
 counting numbers
 whole numbers
\[0, \dfrac{1}{4}, 3, 5.2, 15, 105 \nonumber\]
Solution
 The counting numbers start at \(1\), so \(0\) is not a counting number. The numbers \(3\), \(15\), and \(105\) are all counting numbers.
 Whole numbers are counting numbers and \(0\). The numbers \(0, 3, 15,\) and \(105\) are whole numbers. The numbers \(\dfrac{1}{4}\) and \(5.2\) are neither counting numbers nor whole numbers. We will discuss these numbers later.
Exercise \(\PageIndex{1}\)
Which of the following are
 whole numbers
\[0, \dfrac{2}{3}, 2, 9, 11.8, 241, 376 \nonumber \]
 Answer a

\(2, 9, 241, 376\)
 Answer b

\(0, 2, 9, 241, 376\)
Exercise \(\PageIndex{2}\)
Which of the following are
 counting numbers
 whole numbers
\[0, \dfrac{5}{3}, 7, 8.8, 13, 201 \nonumber \]
 Answer a

\(7, 13, 201\)
 Answer b

\(0, 7, 13, 201\)
Model Whole Numbers
Our number system is called a place value system because the value of a digit depends on its position, or place, in a number. The number \(537\) has a different value than the number \(735\). Even though they use the same digits, their value is different because of the different placement of the \(3\) and the \(7\) and the \(5\).
Money gives us a familiar model of place value. Suppose a wallet contains three \($100\) bills, seven \($10\) bills, and four \($1\) bills. The amounts are summarized in Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\). How much money is in the wallet?
Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\)
Find the total value of each kind of bill, and then add to find the total. The wallet contains \($374\).
Base\(10\) blocks provide another way to model place value, as shown in Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\). The blocks can be used to represent hundreds, tens, and ones. Notice that the tens rod is made up of \(10\) ones, and the hundreds square is made of \(10\) tens, or \(100\) ones.
Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\)
Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\) shows the number \(138\) modeled with base\(10\) blocks.
Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\): We use place value notation to show the value of the number 138.
Digit  Place value  Number  Value  Total value 

1  hundreds  1  100  100 
3  tens  3  10  30 
8  ones  8  1  +8 
Sum =  138 
Example \(\PageIndex{2}\): place value notation
Use place value notation to find the value of the number modeled by the base\(10\) blocks shown.
Figure \(\PageIndex{5}\)
Solution
There are \(2\) hundreds squares, which is \(200\).
There is \(1\) tens rod, which is \(10\).
There are \(5\) ones blocks, which is \(5\).
Digit  Place value  Number  Value  Total value 

2  hundreds  2  100  200 
1  tens  1  10  10 
5  ones  5  1  +5 
215 
The base\(10\) blocks model the number \(215\).
Exercise \(\PageIndex{3}\)
Use place value notation to find the value of the number modeled by the base\(10\) blocks shown.
Figure \(\PageIndex{6}\)
 Answer

\(176\)
Exercise \(\PageIndex{4}\)
Use place value notation to find the value of the number modeled by the base\(10\) blocks shown.
Figure \(\PageIndex{7}\)
 Answer

\(237\)
Identify the Place Value of a Digit
By looking at money and base10 blocks, we saw that each place in a number has a different value. A place value chart is a useful way to summarize this information. The place values are separated into groups of three, called periods. The periods are ones, thousands, millions, billions, trillions, and so on. In a written number, commas separate the periods.
Just as with the base\(10\) blocks, where the value of the tens rod is ten times the value of the ones block and the value of the hundreds square is ten times the tens rod, the value of each place in the placevalue chart is ten times the value of the place to the right of it.
Figure \(\PageIndex{8}\) shows how the number \(5,278,194\) is written in a place value chart.
Figure \(\PageIndex{8}\)
 The digit \(5\) is in the millions place. Its value is \(5,000,000\).
 The digit \(2\) is in the hundred thousands place. Its value is \(200,000\).
 The digit \(7\) is in the ten thousands place. Its value is \(70,000\).
 The digit \(8\) is in the thousands place. Its value is \(8,000\).
 The digit \(1\) is in the hundreds place. Its value is \(100\).
 The digit \(9\) is in the tens place. Its value is \(90\).
 The digit \(4\) is in the ones place. Its value is \(4\).
Example \(\PageIndex{3}\): place value
In the number \(63,407,218\); find the place value of each of the following digits:
 7
 0
 1
 6
 3
Solution
Write the number in a place value chart, starting at the right.
Figure \(\PageIndex{9}\)
 The \(7\) is in the thousands place.
 The \(0\) is in the ten thousands place.
 The \(1\) is in the tens place.
 The \(6\) is in the ten millions place.
 The \(3\) is in the millions place.
Exercise \(\PageIndex{5}\)
For each number, find the place value of digits listed: \(27,493,615\)
 \(2\)
 \(1\)
 \(4\)
 \(7\)
 \(5\)
 Answer a

\(2\)
 Answer b

\(1\)
 Answer c

\(4\)
 Answer d

\(7\)
 Answer e

\(5\)
Exercise \(\PageIndex{6}\)
For each number, find the place value of digits listed: \(519,711,641,328\)
 \(9\)
 \(4\)
 \(2\)
 \(6\)
 \(7\)
 Answer a

billions
 Answer b

ten thousands
 Answer c

tens
 Answer d

hundred thousands
 Answer e

hundred millions
Use Place Value to Name Whole Numbers
When you write a check, you write out the number in words as well as in digits. To write a number in words, write the number in each period followed by the name of the period without the ‘s’ at the end. Start with the digit at the left, which has the largest place value. The commas separate the periods, so wherever there is a comma in the number, write a comma between the words. The ones period, which has the smallest place value, is not named.
So the number \(37,519,248\) is written thirtyseven million, five hundred nineteen thousand, two hundred fortyeight. Notice that the word and is not used when naming a whole number.
How to: Name a Whole Number in Words.
Step 1. Starting at the digit on the left, name the number in each period, followed by the period name. Do not include the period name for the ones.
Step 2. Use commas in the number to separate the periods.
Example \(\PageIndex{4}\): name whole numbers
Name the number \(8,165,432,098,710\) in words.
Solution
Begin with the leftmost digit, which is \(8\). It is in the trillions place.  eight trillion 
The next period to the right is billions.  one hundred sixtyfive billion 
The next period to the right is millions.  four hundred thirtytwo million 
The next period to the right is thousands.  ninetyeight thousand 
The rightmost period shows the ones.  seven hundred ten 
Putting all of the words together, we write \(8,165,432,098,710\) as eight trillion, one hundred sixtyfive billion, four hundred thirtytwo million, ninetyeight thousand, seven hundred ten.
Exercise \(\PageIndex{7}\)
Name each number in words: \(9,258,137,904,061\)
 Answer

nine trillion, two hundred fiftyeight billion, one hundred thirtyseven million, nine hundred four thousand, sixtyone
Exercise \(\PageIndex{8}\)
Name each number in words: \(17,864,325,619,004\)
 Answer

seventeen trillion, eight hundred sixtyfour billion, three hundred twentyfive million, six hundred nineteen thousand, four
Example \(\PageIndex{5}\): name whole numbers
A student conducted research and found that the number of mobile phone users in the United States during one month in 2014 was \(327,577,529\). Name that number in words.
Solution
Identify the periods associated with the number.
Name the number in each period, followed by the period name. Put the commas in to separate the periods.
Millions period: three hundred twentyseven million
Thousands period: five hundred seventyseven thousand
Ones period: five hundred twentynine
So the number of mobile phone users in the Unites States during the month of April was three hundred twentyseven million, five hundred seventyseven thousand, five hundred twentynine.
Exercise \(\PageIndex{9}\)
The population in a country is \(316,128,839\). Name that number
 Answer

three hundred sixteen million, one hundred twentyeight thousand, eight hundred thirty nine
Exercise \(\PageIndex{10}\)
One year is \(31,536,000\) seconds. Name that number.
 Answer

thirty one million, five hundred thirtysix thousand
Use Place Value to Write Whole Numbers
We will now reverse the process and write a number given in words as digits.
How to: Use Place Value to Write Whole Numbers
Step 1. Identify the words that indicate periods. (Remember the ones period is never named.)
Step 2. Draw three blanks to indicate the number of places needed in each period. Separate the periods by commas.
Step 3. Name the number in each period and place the digits in the correct place value position.
Example \(\PageIndex{6}\): write whole numbers
Write the following numbers using digits.
 fiftythree million, four hundred one thousand, seven hundred fortytwo
 nine billion, two hundred fortysix million, seventythree thousand, one hundred eightynine
Solution
 Identify the words that indicate periods.
Except for the first period, all other periods must have three places. Draw three blanks to indicate the number of places needed in each period. Separate the periods by commas.
Then write the digits in each period.
Put the numbers together, including the commas. The number is \(53,401,742\).
 Identify the words that indicate periods.
Except for the first period, all other periods must have three places. Draw three blanks to indicate the number of places needed in each period. Separate the periods by commas.
Then write the digits in each period.
The number is \(9,246,073,189.\)
Notice that in part (b), a zero was needed as a placeholder in the hundred thousands place. Be sure to write zeros as needed to make sure that each period, except possibly the first, has three places.
Exercise \(\PageIndex{11}\)
Write each number in standard form:
fiftythree million, eight hundred nine thousand, fiftyone
 Answer

\(53,809,051\)
Exercise \(\PageIndex{12}\)
Write each number in standard form:
two billion, twentytwo million, seven hundred fourteen thousand, four hundred sixtysix
 Answer

\(2,022,714,466\)
Example \(\PageIndex{7}\): write standard form
A state budget was about \($77\) billion. Write the budget in standard form.
Solution
Identify the periods. In this case, only two digits are given and they are in the billions period. To write the entire number, write zeros for all of the other periods.
So the budget was about \($77,000,000,000\).
Exercise \(\PageIndex{13}\)
Write each number in standard form:
The closest distance from Earth to Mars is about \(34\) million miles.
 Answer

\(34,000,000\: miles\)
Exercise \(\PageIndex{14}\)
Write each number in standard form:
The total weight of an aircraft carrier is \(204\) million pounds.
 Answer

\(204,000,000\: pounds\)
Contributors and Attributions
 Lynn Marecek (Santa Ana College) and MaryAnne AnthonySmith (formerly of Santa Ana College). This content produced by OpenStax and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license.