Numeric literals in other than base 10 - was Annoying octal notation

James Harris james.harris.1 at
Sun Aug 23 22:55:19 CEST 2009

On 23 Aug, 04:38, c... at (Richard Harter) wrote:
> On Sat, 22 Aug 2009 14:54:41 -0700 (PDT), James Harris
> <james.harri... at> wrote:
> >On 22 Aug, 10:27, David <71da... at> wrote:
> >... (snipped a discussion on languages and other systems interpreting
> >numbers with a leading zero as octal)
> >> > Either hexadecimal should have been 0h or octal should
> >> > have been 0t :=3D)
> >> I have seen the use of Q/q instead in order to make it clearer. I still
> >> prefer Smalltalk's 16rFF and 8r377.
> >> Two interesting options. In a project I have on I have also considered
> >> using 0q as indicating octal. I maybe saw it used once somewhere else
> >> but I have no idea where. 0t was a second choice and 0c third choice
> >> (the other letters of oct). 0o should NOT be used for obvious reasons.
> >> So you are saying that Smalltalk has <base in decimal>r<number> where
> >> r is presumably for radix? That's maybe best of all. It preserves the
> >> syntactic requirement of starting a number with a digit and seems to
> >> have greatest flexibility. Not sure how good it looks but it's
> >> certainly not bad.
> I opine that a letter is better; special characters are a
> valuable piece of real estate.

Very very true.

>  However for floating point you
> need at least three letters because a floating point number has
> three parts: the fixed point point, the exponent base, and the
> exponent.  Now we can represent the radices of the individual
> parts with the 'r'scheme, e.g., 2r101001, but we need separate
> letters to designate the exponent base and the exponent.  B and E
> are the obvious choices, though we want to be careful about a
> confusion with 'b' in hex.  For example, using 'R',
> 3R20.1B2E16Rac

Ooh err!

> is 20.1 in trinary (6 1/3) times 2**172 (hex ac).
> I grant that this example looks a bit gobbledegookish,

You think? :-)

> but normal
> usage would be much simpler.  The notation doesn't handle
> balanced trinary; however I opine that balanced trinary requires
> special notation.

When the programmer needs to construct such values how about allowing
him or her to specify something like

  (20.1 in base 3) times 2 to the power of 0xac

Leaving out how to specify (20.1 in base 3) for now this could be

  (20.1 in base 3) * 2 ** 0xac

The compiler could convert this to a constant.


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