Re: iff vs. if in documents

Subject: Re: iff vs. if in documents
From: edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- COM, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 18:51:34 -0500

SteveFJong -at- AOL -dot- COM:
>>I would respectfully disagree with the statement that "if" and "iff" are
>>different, or even ambiguous, *in the English language.* The common meaning
>>of "if" is the same. You only have to remove all possibly avenues for
>>ambiguity, using "if and only if," if you are questioning Bill Clinton 8^)

Firstly IF *IS* different from IFF. IFF is a term in boolean logic. The
statements "IF A or B = 1" and "IFF A or B = 1" return different results. With
A=1 AND B=1 the result of IF is 1 and IFF is 0. With A=0 AND B=1 the result of
IF is 1 and IFF is 1 (If memory serves, it's been over 8 yrs since I've
programmed regularily).
It may be argued that in documentation IFF should always be writtin as "if and
only if" if (or iff ;-) ) you believe your audience does not/will not/cannot
understand the "jargon". (For programmers, not knowing IFF from IF shouldn't be
more than knowing the meaning of ENDSUB, ELSEIF or any of the other hundreds of
codes you soon know by heart when programming.) But if you are talking about or
documenting boolean logic then it is completely unaceptable to surmise that if
and iff are the same and replace all iffs with if. If we go back to the origin
of this thread, where it was comments in code that were being edited, the
changing of these two distinct programming terms is completely unacceptable.
Unless the writer's/editor's understanding of the code was correct.
There are entries in Websters for both words in fact. See below.
To get this horrible off-topic dictionary quoting post back to something
TECHWR-L acceptable: The TECH in TECHwriter should cover the knowledge of the
field in which the writer is working. Any writer in a programming field that
questions IF vs IFF needs to take some ruimentary programming courses.

Eric L. Dunn
Main Entry: iff
Pronunciation: 'if-&n(d)-'On-lE-"if; 'if, sometimes read with a prolonged f
Function: conjunction
Etymology: alteration of 1if
Date: 1955
: if and only if <two figures are congruent iff one can be placed over the other
so that they coincide>

Main Entry: 1 if
Pronunciation: 'if, &f
Function: conjunction
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English gif; akin to Old High German ibu if
Date: before 12th century
1 a : in the event that b : allowing that c : on the assumption that d : on
condition that
2 : WHETHER <asked if the mail had come> <I doubt if I'll pass the course>
3 -- used as a function word to introduce an exclamation expressing a wish <if
it would only rain>
4 : even though <an interesting if untenable argument>
- if anything : on the contrary even : perhaps even <if anything, you ought to

Main Entry: 2 if
Pronunciation: 'if
Function: noun
Date: 1513
1 : CONDITION, STIPULATION <the question... depends on too many ifs to allow an
answer -- Encounter>

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