[Edu-sig] Re: (financial calculation) - using units
delza at livingcode.org
Wed Feb 16 04:32:22 CET 2005
On 15-Feb-05, at 12:51 PM, Christian Mascher wrote:
> BTW, how does one express units of measure in Python/programming?
> Calculations in applications aren't just about numbers. For instance,
> how could one express equations like
> 10000 cm^2 == 1 m^2
> 1000 g == 0.001 t
> in a programming language? Another point would be the inclusion of a
> measure of accuracy:
> For a physicist or engineer
> 1 cm != 1.00 cm
> because the first could be 0.9 cm, the second couldn't, beeing more
You might want to take a look at Frink. Programming explicitly in
units is it's main purpose, although it also contains lots of reference
data as part of it's domain intelligence (including WordNet, the
open-source dictionary (I'm oversimplifying, WordNet is more than a
From the Frink documentation:
I received one of those endlessly-forwarded e-mails of dubious but
"interesting facts" which said "if you fart continuously for 6 years
and 9 months, you'll have enough gas to create the equivalent of an
atomic bomb." Hee hee. Cute. (Thanks to Heather May Howard... being
unable to easily calculate the veracity of this statement was one of
the primary influences that showed how existing programs were too
limited and inspired the creation of Frink.) But I didn't believe it
and wanted to check it. The Hiroshima bomb had a yield of 12.5 kilotons
of TNT, which is a very small bomb by today's standards. How many
horsepower would that be?
12.5 kilotons TNT / (6 years + 9 months) -> horsepower
Can you produce a 329-horsepower blowtorch of a fart? I doubt it.
That's the power produced by a Corvette engine running just at its
melting point. A one-second fart with that much power could blow me
1000 feet straight up. To produce that kind of energy, how much food
would you have to eat a day?
12.5 kilotons TNT / (6 years + 9 months) -> Calories/day
Ummm... can you eat over 5 million Calories a day? (Again, note that
these are food Calories with a capital 'c' which are equal to 1000
calories with a small 'c'.) If you were a perfect fart factory,
converting food energy into farts with 100% efficiency, and ate a
normal 2000 Calories/day, how many years would it really take?
12.5 kilotons TNT / (2000 Calories/day) -> years
17,000 years is still a huge underestimate; I don't know how much of
your energy actually goes into fart production. Oh well. To continue
the calculations, let's guess your butthole has a diameter of 1 inch
(no, you go measure it.) Let's also guess that the gas you actually
produce in a fart is only 1/10 as combustible as pure natural gas. What
would be the velocity of the gas coming out?
12.5 kilotons TNT / natural_gas / (6 years + 9 months) / (pi (.5
in)^2) 10 -> mph
Nobody likes sitting next to a 280-mile-per-hour fart-machine.
Lesson: Even the smallest atomic bombs are really unbelievably
powerful and whoever originally calculated this isn't any fun to be
around if they really fart that much.
Fart jokes. Sheesh. If Frink isn't a huge success, it's not because I
didn't pander to the Lowest Common Denominator.
There are lots of more practical usages as well. Frink syntax is
somewhere in the Perl/Python ballpark, but explicitly intended for
one-off short scripts. It's written in Java, so fairly portable. And
the data sets it incorporates are valuable in themselves.
I'd love to see a Python version of this, but since it can be embedded
in Java with two lines of code, it should be accessible from Jython.
Here are a few more of the features, also from the docs:
Tracks units of measure (feet, meters, tons, dollars, watts, etc.)
through all calculations and allows you to add, subtract, multiply,
and divide them effortlessly, and makes sure the answer comes out
correct, even if you mix units like gallons and liters.
* Arbitrary-precision math, including huge integers and
floating-point numbers, rational numbers (that is, fractions like 1/3
are kept without loss of precision,) and complex numbers.
* Advanced mathematical functions including trigonometric functions
(even for complex numbers,) factoring and primality testing, and base
* Unit Conversion between thousands of unit types with a huge
built-in data file.
* Date/time math (add offsets to dates, find out intervals between
times,) timezone conversions, and user-modifiable date formats.
* Translates between several human languages, including English,
French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Japanese, Russian,
Chinese, Swedish, and Arabic.
* Calculates historical buying power of the U.S. dollar and British
* Calculates exchange rates between most of the world's currencies.
"Say what you like about C++, but it's uninitialized variables will
hold a special place in my heart. In a world where we define
concretely it is the last refuge of the undefined. It's the programmer's
Wild West, the untamed frontier." --Bjorn Stroustrap
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