# Where does the 'divides' sign come from?

When $a$ divides $b$ we say $a | b$. Where does the $|$ sign come from?

This is not homework, just personal interest in the history of mathematical language.

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Maybe it developed from the notation used for long division, which seems less arbitrary (since it's used to help lay out a process neatly) than $a|b$ – Daniel Freedman Jan 11 '12 at 18:05