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

Erik Max Francis max at
Thu Aug 27 03:53:04 CEST 2009

Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> On Wed, 26 Aug 2009 10:58:12 -0700, Mensanator wrote:
>>> But I certainly wouldn't call it "binary", for fear of confusion with
>>> radix-2 binary.
>> That's my point. Since the common usage of "binary" is for Standard
>> Positional Number System of Radix 2, it follows that "unary" is the
>> common usage for Standard Positional Number System of Radix 1.
> Er, no, that doesn't follow. There is no such thing as a radix-1 
> positional number system -- it just doesn't work.
> In any case, unary is the standard term for what I'm discussing:
> although Mathworld doesn't seem to know it.

Psst.  That's a hint.

Googling for "unary number system" ("unary numeral system" just comes up 
with endless mirrors of Wikipedia) gives Wikipedia as hit #1.  Hit #2 is 
  from the Institute of Druidic Technology, another hint.  The remaining 
hits are pretty much people pontificating in discussion groups just as 
they are in this one.

Yes, you can define something that works.  But it's not the usual 
mathematical definition of radix, so if you want to talk about it you 
have to disclaim that it's not a proper base and that's you're making up 
as you go.  But you can't pretend like it's the "obvious" mathematical 
meaning just because the usual mathematical meaning doesn't apply, which 
is what you seem to be doing.

Erik Max Francis && max at &&
  San Jose, CA, USA && 37 18 N 121 57 W && AIM/Y!M/Skype erikmaxfrancis
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    -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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