I came across this method to perform subtraction using addition and not using the "borrow" concept, apparently because it is harder to learn it that way.

Video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKOd6S4-iXk

This method is referred to as "Austrian method" in wikipedia article

  1. Is it really hard for students to learn subtraction using "borrow method"
  2. Is the "austrian method", better than the borrow method?
  3. Are there any studies into which methods of teaching subtraction are more/less helpful to students?

I found reference to this method in the book "The Teaching of Arithmetic; a Manual for Teachers" by Paul Klapper, published in 1921

enter image description here.

Has this "controversy" been settled by now?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ When I read the title I thought you meant the nine complement which is easier than the standard method. $\endgroup$ – Paracosmiste Apr 30 '18 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ See also my answer on MESE 11093 here. $\endgroup$ – Benjamin Dickman Apr 30 '18 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ @BenjaminDickman thanks for linking that question. It is not clear if that book provides any "conclusions" as to which method is better. $\endgroup$ – user13107 May 2 '18 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ Watching the first few minutes of Salil Gadgil's video (linked in the Q), I don't see how the concept of adding-with-carry is any less difficult than the concept of subtracting-with-borrow. $\endgroup$ – shoover May 30 '18 at 16:41

Wikipedia says the Austrian method is now used in some countries in Europe.

I looked up what the Austrian method is. I recognized it from the patter in one of Tom Lehrer's comic songs, "New Math". Here it is:

and if you're under 35 or went to a private school you say seven from three is six, but if you're over 35 and went to a public school you say eight from four is six;

So perhaps the Austrian method was still used in America up to 25 years before that song, whenver that was...


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.