PEP0238 lament

Guido van Rossum guido at
Tue Jul 24 22:20:14 CEST 2001

Steve Horne <sh at> writes:

> The mathematical operation of division is traditionally represented as
> ÷ in general - or as a horizontal line between the numerator and
> denominator. Only rationals merit the / in mathematics - it's simply
> the best compromise.
> But mathematics uses the same set of symbols equally for both integer
> and real division - it's rarely made explicit which is in use as it is
> normally blatantly obvious. So I don't believe (1) is valid.

I believe you are wrong here on both counts.  Knuth, a mathematician
if there ever was one, uses / for division when written in-line and a
horizontal line in "display" formulas.  He also uses an explicit floor
notation to indicate integer division, and without that his divisions
are real divisions.  (Knuth's floor notation acts like a pair of
brackets around an expression; the left bracket looks like an L, the
right bracket looks like a reverse L.  He has a similar ceiling
notation where the L's are upside down.)

--Guido van Rossum (home page:

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