Skip to content
Supporting Australian Mathematics Project: Middle years.

Year 8 icon

Year 8

Number and Algebra

Investigating terminating and recurring decimals


Decimals are used widely. Our money is based on a decimal system. Common measurements such as the height of students in a class, the price of petrol and the amount of gas used for heating your home are usually expressed using decimals.

We can represent decimals as points on the number line by repeatedly subdividing intervals into tenths. A decimal number gives the 'address' of a point on the number line –– the digits give successively more accurate information and together locate a point. This is an extension of the concept of place value met earlier. Whole numbers are written as strings of digits that correspond to the 'places' ones, ten, hundreds, etc. Positive numbers less than one can be written with the same notation with 'additional places' tenths, hundredths, thousandths, etc.

Despite their common use today, decimals were not used widely until the early seventeenth century. Now, decimals are used extensively and almost exclusively in commerce and science.