There seems to be a lot of interest in the Sumerian Numerals Puzzle ‘Synapses’ from Assassin’s Creed 2. I’ll start with the full solution for any gamer who’s interested...
The different pieces of information on this puzzle screen all relate to the final solution.
1) First things first, the wine glass-like symbol is the sumerian number 1, and the horizontal A symbol is the sumerian number 10. The hint will tell you this. I’ll refer to sumerian 1 as S1 and sumerian 10 as S10 from here on.
2) Notice in the bottom right there is a number 5 written beside a S1. Rotate the code wheel so the number 5 is aligned to the S1 symbol.
3) Now for the potential head scratching section. Notice the addition expression within the image on the left: S1 + 2 + 6 + 2 + 1 + 5 + 3 + 5 + 6 + 4. Taking into account that the S1 = 1, add the first pair of numbers, S1 + 2 = 3. Now add the resulting 3 to the next number 6. Repeat and you should end up with the following values:
S1 + 2 = 3
3 + 6 = 9
9 + 2 = 11
11 + 1 = 12
12 + 5 = 17
17 + 3 = 20
20 + 5 = 25
25 + 6 = 31
31 + 4 = 35
These resulting values correspond to the sumerian numerals on the code wheel.
No doubt there will be a myriad of stereotypical gamers who will brag that for them this puzzle was a ‘no brainer’. Needless to say, the combined efforts of two engineers and a mathematician still required some old fashioned ‘head against brick wall’ moments to get to the bottom of Synapses. Take it all with a pinch of salt.
Sumerian numerals are interesting in that they do not have a digit zero, nor do they have a concept of zero, similar to Roman numerals. The idea of nothing or zero is not included in the symbol notation.This number system uses sign value notation , ie. symbols representing a number added together to form new numbers. Thinking of zero as an actual number, rather than the lack of, helps us.
If you are interested in mathematics, you’ll probably know you cannot divide by zero. Try dividing 2 by zero on a calculator; Math Error by any chance? Thinking about it too much will fry your brain! However, there are times within the Mathematics that I have studied, when it was required to simply use zero through the process or calculation, treating it no differently to any other number. This idea is the driving force of our decimal system of today.