I think I have a new favorite way to multiply numbers: the vertically and crosswise technique. I learned about it from George Gheverghese Joseph’s *Crest of the Peacock* [a book that is sadly out of print], and was recently reminded of just how cool it is.

The vertically and crosswise multiplication technique was popularized by Swami Bharati Krishna Tirthaji’s *Vedic Mathematics*, published posthumously in 1965. Tirthaji claimed to have reconstructed the mathematical content of sixteen *sutras* (concise rules) from an appendix to the *Atharvaveda*, one of the four Vedas, texts held sacred in Hinduism; the *Atharvaveda* dates to as early as 1000BCE. While his claim of the Vedic origins of Tirthaji’s methods is questionable, the mathematics itself (whether ancient or modern) is quite cool.

Tirthaji’s vertically and crosswise multiplication method is essentially the same as the general multiplication method found in Trachtenberg’s system of rapid arithmetic, devised by Jakow Trachtenberg during his imprisonment during WWII.

The method also is somewhat similar to lattice or grid multiplication, although more of the steps are done mentally rather than writing down all of the initial data as is done in the lattice method.

It is easiest to describe the method in the context of several examples.

**Example:** Find 78 x 36

We write the numbers one above the other, aligning place values as in the usual method of multidigit multiplication.

The ones place of the product is determined

vertically, by computing 6×8. The result, 48, tells us the ones place of the product is an 8, and we have an additional 4 tens to keep track of.The tens place of the product is determined

crosswise, by taking both the product 6×7 and also the product 3×8, plus the extra 4 tens we have from above. This yields 42+24+4=70 tens, so the tens place of the product is 0, and we have an additional 7 hundreds to keep track of.Finally, the hundreds place of the product is determined vertically, by computing 3×7, plus the 7 extra hundreds from above. That gives 21+7=28 hundreds.

Putting it all together, we have 2808 as the product.

**Why the method works: **At each stage, you are computing those partial products whose place value matches the place value of the digit you are computing.

**Why the method is interesting:** There are relatively few intermediate results to keep track of (and all of those involve at most two-digit numbers). With a little practice, one can do all of the arithmetic in one’s head, and when presented with a multiplication problem of any complexity proceed directly to writing down the digits of the answer.

**Example: **Find 978×423

Ones place:3×8=24; write down 4, remember 2. [4]

Tens place:2 + 3×7 + 2×8 = 39; write down 9, remember 3. [94]

Hundreds place:3+3×9+2×7+4×8=76; write down, 6, remember 7. [694]

Thousands:7+2×9+4×7=53; write down 3, remember 5. [3694]

Ten-thousands:5+4×9=41; write down 41. [413694]

**Example: **Find 927803×46817. (Pad a zero to have two six digit numbers: 927803×046817; while that step isn’t mathematically necessary, it helps retain the geometric vertically and crosswise pattern to the various partial products.)

Ones:7×3=21; remember 2. [1]

Tens: 2+7×0+1×3=5. [51]100s: 7×8+1×0+8×3=80; remember 8. [051]

1000s: 8+7×7+1×8+8×0+6×3=83; remember 8. [3051]

10000s: 8+7×2+1×7+8×8+6×0+4×3=105; remember 10. [53051]

100000s: 10+7×9+1×2+8×7+6×8+4×0+0x3=179; remember 17. [953051]

1000000s: 17+1×9+8×2+6×7+4×8+0x0=116; remember 11. [6953051]

millions: 11+8×9+6×2+4×7+0x8=123; remember 12. [36953051]

10 millions: 12+6×9+4×2+0x7=74; remember 7. [436953051]

100 millions: 7+4×9+0x2=43; remember 4. [3436953051]

billions: 4+0x9=4. [43436953051]

February 24, 2008 at 10:58 am |

This is amazing. It takes a little practice to get the flow of where to multiply next.

April 22, 2009 at 2:08 am |

THOROUGHLY FASCINATING

May 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm |

yeah, this was discovered by an indian! i am proud of dat.!

June 11, 2009 at 7:47 pm |

[…] Vertically and Crosswise Multiplication (which TwoPi wrote about just over a year ago). TwoPi tells me that it should probably be called […]

November 5, 2009 at 8:05 am |

TRULY FASCINATING…AND IT HAS BEEN A GREAT HELP FOR MY MATH PROJECT… HOPE YOU’LL DISPLAY MORE 😀

February 9, 2010 at 12:35 am |

Big Big thanks. I’m homeschooling my children. Kisses.

March 17, 2010 at 9:17 pm |

OMG! I run across this article because I was trying to figure out why this works and if others multiply math the way I have been doing it for ages now. I actually got in trouble when I was multiplying this way so I practiced what they taught me but I still to this day used this very same system to multiply very large numbers and do the additions in my head. I have no idea why I use this method but I am glad to know that it is a proven and true method that won’t leave me down. Thank you for sharing 🙂

March 28, 2012 at 2:06 am |

I have discovered a solution which is very similar to this but only differs to some processes. I call it Jubix method since it uses vertical and crosswise pattern. The result would be like an inverse pyramid and then when added, provides the answer. I dont know if i can publish it since it also uses vertical and crosswise pattern which is similar to the method as shown above. well i discovered the method year 2003.

March 30, 2012 at 11:27 am |

mark — it sounds like a method I just learned about a few months ago — I’ll try to write up a post this weekend and you can see if it’s the same. [But if you have it written up, by all means, send a link.]

December 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm |

it’s really amzing to solve such big multiplications in a few seconds.

I waz about to join uc mas but now i’ve got this & defeat any one from uc mas to.

thanxxx 360worldpress

October 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |

I know I saw this in an old (c. 1960’s?) book about ways people multiplied in the Middle Ages. I don’t know whether it’s really of Vedic origin, but it might indeed be ancient. I wish I could remember the title of the book I read. I’d like to go back to the same library and find it again.

October 31, 2013 at 9:35 am |

That sounds a lot like the book “Capitalism and Arithmetic” by Frank Swetz, which contains a translation with commentary of the Treviso Arithmetic of 1478.

April 2, 2015 at 9:14 pm |

I have done a visual simplification of this method so that the patterns can be meorized easily. Have a look.