# How to read a number on the soroban

### 0. Let's learn with an example

What is the number displayed on the little soroban below ?

### 1. Rods

First, we notice there are 4 vertical rods. So the number has 4 digits.

### 2. Activated beads

Let's look at the first rod from the left

We have greyed out *unactivated* beads to ease the reading of *activated beads*. Activated beads are the ones that have been moved toward the *beam*, separating the soroban by its half.

Only activated beads are taken into account.

### 3. First rod and earth beads

Each bead below the beam (called *earth beads*) count for one.

So we have 3 (earth activated) beads here and the first digit is three (3).

### 4. Heaven bead

Here, we have a top (also called heaven) bead that is activated. Activated *heaven beads* count for five (5).

### 5. Second rod

One activated heaven bead plus one activated earth bead is 5 plus 1 which gives 6.

### 6. Third rod

We have no activated bead, so the digit is zero (0).

### 7. Fourth rod

We have one heaven bead and three earth activated beads; 5+3 = 8. So the last digit is 8.

And finally, the number is **3608**.