Re: numbers???

Subject: Re: numbers???
From: Steve Fouts <sfouts -at- ELLISON -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1993 11:56:51 CDT

|} Hello. Can anyone help me with guidelines for when to use the words
|} "number," "integer," "digit," and the like. I find this very confusing.
|} I am corrected often by scientific types around here that really know
|} the proper meanings/uses of these words, and I'd like to clear it up.
|} Websters is not much help on this score.
|} Thanks,
|} --Jill

IEEE Standard Glossary of Mathmatics of Computing Terminology;
ANSI/IEEE Std 1084-1986

Integer: A positive or negative whole number including zero.

Steve's comment: This one will get you in to trouble with programmers.
In virtually every computing language that has such
a type definition, this is a reserved data type and
as such should not be used as a generic. The generic
might be "integral number" but ANSI/IEEE is not clear.

number: A mathematical abstraction indicating a quantity or amount.

Steve's comment: Since this is an abstraction, don't use it in a
specific sense. Don't say, "Enter a number between
one and ten," when you need an integer between one
and ten. Pi is a number between one and ten, and
so is 5/3.

digit: A character used to represent one of the non-negative integers smaller
than the radix. For example, in decimal notation, one of the characters
0 to 9.

Steve's comment: This is a VERY important distinction in CS. The letter
"A" is a digit when the base is 16 (hexadecimal). Not
to mention the fact that the "number" 819 contains
three digits.

Got any more? This is more fun than real work.

******************** Steve Fouts
* _ ___ * sfouts -at- ellison -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com
* ( |____| *
* _ /\ |\ _ * "a little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of
* / / \ _| \ \ * explanation."
* ( * ) \/_|__* ) * --H. H. Munro
* \_/ _/ \_/ * <Boilerplate disclaimer here>

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