Mental calculation comprises arithmetical calculations using only the human brain, with no help from calculators, computers, or pen and paper. People use mental calculation when computing tools are not available, when it is faster than other means of calculation (for example, conventional methods as taught in educational institutions), or in a competitive context. Mental calculation often involves the use of specific techniques devised for specific types of problems.
Many of these techniques take advantage of or rely on the decimal numeral system. Usually, the choice of radix determines what methods to use and also which calculations are easier to perform mentally. For example, multiplying or dividing by ten is an easy task when working in decimal (just move the decimal point), whereas multiplying or dividing by sixteen is not; however, the opposite is true when working in hexadecimal.
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