Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Multiplication Using Lines

Do you have troubles with multiplication? Below the video is a demonstration of an easy way to multiply large numbers together. How long has this method been known? Why were we never taught this when we were kids?



  1. #1 G Barnett
    January 30, 2007

    Hmm, interesting. First thing I tried was a 3-digit x a 2-digit number; took a bit to figure out how to do the intersection groupings for a mismatch like that, but it does indeed work.

    Wow. Clever trick.

  2. #2 TM
    January 30, 2007

    That’s snazzy, but there’s an easy answer as to why this is more of just something fun rather than something that should be taught in school.

    Try to do:99*88 (for example). I can’t draw that many straight lines!

  3. #3 writerdddd
    January 30, 2007

    That is fracking cool. I would have loved that when I was a kid.

  4. #4 TMeyn
    January 30, 2007

    Even more to the point:

    Try 101*101

    If you draw a line that no one can see, does it really exist?

  5. #5 Jerry D. Harris
    January 30, 2007

    Dunno if I’d call that an easy way…I can do it the regular way a heckuva lot faster than this!

  6. #6 G Barnett
    January 30, 2007

    Interesting. You’d have to use stub lines/points to represent the zeroes, but it’s doable. I just worked out 101 x 101 & for added confirmation, 2301 x 101. The trick then becomes knowing where to draw those grouping curves.

    Actually, one could conceivably use this format for representing numbers in a handwritten cipher and really mess with folks. Say, do the usual 1-26 for representing A-Z, then break words into letter pairs, and then write it out as line-multiples of the pairs. I suppose you could also pre-encode as ROT-13 to really obfuscate things.

    That might be something for me to do to my D&D group the next time I’m DM….

  7. #7 TonDunlap
    January 30, 2007

    Re: 101 * 101, Just draw dashed lines for the zeros and count the intersection of a dashed line as a zero. It works, 10201.

  8. #8 Zach
    January 31, 2007

    I think a proof of this would be really nice.
    I’m working on one now.
    I’ll keep you posted on whether I get one or a counter example.

  9. #9 Sammy
    January 31, 2007

    Well, yes, that makes sense. You’re just doing the exact same thing you would when you multiply, but visually. Then again, some kids are visual learners, and this might help them understand multiplication – it’s more fun than looking at numbers.

  10. #10 Winkie
    February 5, 2007

    Just get a calculator and get over it. There’s no way I’m making posters out of my math problems, and counting dots.

  11. #11 Zach
    February 19, 2007

    Here is the “proof” technically the proof is only for two particular two digit numbers but you can see how it can be extended to an arbitary number of arbitary digits.

    Also in the spirit of the original post I’ve animated it.

    Again here is the URL “”

  12. #12 Rachel
    March 5, 2007

    What’s to prove? All it does is a ‘dot’ style of multiplication as opposed to writing numbers and having to do the math in your head first.

    By making it a diagonal on its corner, you quickly see how many digits the end result should have (in the second example, it was 5 because there were 5 diagonals) In effect, you’re not doing anything that ‘long’ multiplication never taught you, you’re just doing it by counting dots laid out in a certain way rather than writing down the Arabic numerals.

    This looks like it could be LOADS of fun, though!

  13. #13 Aleks
    August 19, 2007

    Does any1 no wat this is called…i cant find any ifo n it….and how long its been around….email me info at and provide any website pls

  14. #14 Anastasia
    September 4, 2007

    It is called Visual Multiplication with Lines do not know how long it’s been around this is the website we were showed in college.

    I hope this helps

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