The power of io, which occurs as a factor in the tables of both Napier and Byrgius, was rendered necessary by the fact that the decimal point was not yet in use.

In tables of logarithms of numbers to base io the mantissa only is in general tabulated, as the characteristic of the logarithm of a number can always be written down at sight, the rule being that, if the number is greater than unity, the characteristic is less by unity than the number of digits in the integral portion of it, and that if the number is less than unity the characteristic is negative, and is greater by unity than the number of ciphers between the decimal point and the first significant figure.

The fact that when the base is io the mantissa of the logarithm is independent of the position of the decimal point in the number affords the chief reason for the choice of io as base.

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The decimal point is, however, used systematically in the Constructio (1619), there being perhaps two hundred decimal points altogether in the book.

These examples show that Napier was in possession of all the conventions and attributes that enable the decimal point to complete so symmetrically our system of notation, viz.

This single instance of the use of the decimal point in the midst of an arithmetical process, if it stood alone, would not suffice to establish a claim for its introduction, as the real introducer of the decimal point is the person who first saw that a point or line as separator was all that was required to distinguish between the integers and fractions, and used it as a permanent notation and not merely in the course of performing an arithmetical operation.