This is something I have pondered since I was very young (possibly 8 or so)... and my main conclusion is that it all depends on the number system(s) used and the level of intellectual evolution attained by the race(s) involved.
As humans, we have 10 digits...
or put in more correct terms our number system is decimal (base 10, having 10 distinct numeric value representations 0-9).
Why? Well, we have 10 fingers. it makes sense that all throughout our planet, every culture has some sort of base 10 number system because all(in general) humans by default have 10 fingers.
Imagine a race with only say 2 fingers...
well, they'd likely have a binary number system or some derivative thereof. Same as our computers and electronics. This also changes the way one might think about maths, the rules and mechanisms for performing operations differ. some things are much easier to do in binary than in decimal - like for instance multiplying by 2. to multiply by 2 in binary, you simply add a zero to the end of the line (effectively shifting all the numbers left by one digit). likewise to divide by two you simply shift the numbers to the right. ...and if you have any power n of 2 then we simply shift the digits n times. ie: to get the number multiplied by 8, simply shift the number left 3 times (2 ^ 3 = 8)
in binary this looks as follows:
each column represents a power of 2 with the lowest power (0) on the right
1: 00000001 (1 x 2^0)
2: 00000010 (1 x 2^1 + 0 x 2^0) drop the second term to simplify to (1x2^1)
3: 00000011 (1 x 2^1 + 1 x 2^0)
4: 00000100 (1 x 2^2)
5: 00000101 (1 x 2^2 + 1 x 2^0)
8: 00010000 (1 x 2^3)
However, in a decimal system the same holds true for powers of 10...
to multiply by 10^n, simply shift the numbers left by n digits and add n trailing 0's.
123 * 10^3 = 123 * 1000 = 123000
10^0 = 1
10^1 = 10
10^2 = 100
10^3 = 1000
There are an infinite number of number systems...
In computing we use: base 16 (Hexadecimal), base 8 (Octal), base 10 (decimal), base 2 (binary)...
It could also be further complicated
By including the number of appendages and the division of digits among those too. You could have numerical systems based on some odd, nonsensical (to us) sequence of values.
for instance, beings may have devised some number system that uses/combines properties from the octal, binary and hexadecimal number systems...
Imagine an octopus with two "fingers" at the end of each tentacle...
it could count in binary on each tentacle (base 2 - 2 fingers),
it could count in octal if counting each limb (base 8 - 8 tentacles)...
or if combining both tentacles and fingers, it could count in some hexadecimal fashion (base 16 - 8x2 digits = 16).
Multiple, symbiotic, sentient species living together...
well, it's likely that they will find a common number system with which to interact. for instance, beings with 8 digits interacting with beings having 4 digits will likely work in a number system somehow common to both (in this case, most likely base 8 - Octal).
Prime-base number system intersections...
what about beings with say 7 digits living with beings having 13 digits...
The first common number system that intersects across both is probably going to be base (7x13) = base 91. Unlikely, but who are we to say.
you will also see that in nature, there are many references to the fibonacci sequence (simply google "sequences in nature" to see what I mean). This may be true on earth, but may be completely different on some other planet.
We also have an abundance of plants and creatures that adhere to specific numbers and structures which are purely mathematical... this goes as far as crystalline structures of molecules and elements.
All these things play a role in what one might use to create a base number system.
for instance, if everything around us had six branches, or six sides or six leaves or six legs... then it's quite likely that a hex number system would evolve despite our having 10 digits. OR... rather there is a likely chance that the number 6 or the hex number system would play an important role despite our having a decimal number system.
Programmers and scientists work in different number systems.
Cryptographers and information specialists will think in other, higher base number systems - the reasons for which are because they are more condensed, so you can represent more data in a single digit than you can in a decimal or binary system.
How to see densification of numeric representation...
simply open a calculator app and put it into programmer mode, enter some number and switch between the different base representations. The lower the base, the longer the number representation has to be... the higher the base, the shorter the number representation (but the more complex the number system and number of symbols).
This is another area where higher order number systems COULD used, but it gets far more complex because the cubits could in fact represent multiple values simultaneously.
There is no reason why a race couldn't have evolved to such a degree that their number system could be represented in a similar manner - We have. We might only be at the initial stage of such an evolution, but we are at the point where the number systems we use are no longer constrained by the prehistoric notions of counting in factors of 10.
Advancements in math
if you really want to see what we have evolved our math to... simply look at the the number (-1/12) ... it's derived from a mathematical summation of all the natural numbers Sum of all natural numbers
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5... = -1/12 (negative one-twelfth)
What about imaginary numbers and other such formulated concepts which make impossible formulae very possible and elegant to solve.
Using math to describe everything
I believe that to some degree, we can. the limitations are in how much detail you want to portray and across how much variation and scope etc. DNA is essentially a really well constructed mathematical function that permeates through some pseudo-random modifications in each iteration (hence evolution)..
You could for instance use a mathematical formula to describe any set of data to some degree of accuracy - a fourier transform could be used to describe a drawing of homer simpson for instance Homer Simpson described by Fourier Transform function
My advice is think about this from all angles... it might even be influenced by factors such as how many eyes does the creature have, how their brains work and think, sleep cycles, moons around the planet...
It's simply a question of how the perceive the world they live in (or LIVED in) and how they represent that and everything else.