Python handles globals badly.

Peter Pearson pkpearson at nowhere.invalid
Thu Sep 10 22:49:28 CEST 2015


On Wed, 9 Sep 2015 20:20:42 +0100, Mark Lawrence wrote:
> On 09/09/2015 18:59, William Ray Wing wrote:
>>> On Sep 9, 2015, at 1:22 PM, Steven D'Aprano <steve at pearwood.info> wrote:
[snip]
>> Right.  Note that the Arabs, who DID invent zero, still count from one.
[snip]
> Would you please provide a citation to support your claim as this 
> http://www.livescience.com/27853-who-invented-zero.html disagrees.

That's baffling.  Livescience.com says this:

    Robert Kaplan, author of "The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of
    Zero," suggests that an ancestor to the placeholder zero may have
    been a pair of angled wedges used to represent an empty number
    column. However, Charles Seife, author of "Zero: The Biography of a
    Dangerous Idea," disagrees that the wedges represented a
    placeholder.

In that exact book, Seife says the exact opposite of the above allegation:

    Zero was the solution to the problem.  By around 300 BC the
    Babylonians had started using two slanted wedges, [graphics
    omitted], to represent an empty space, an empty column on the
    abacus.  This _placeholder_ [italics in original] mark made it easy
    to tell which position a symbol was in.

Either Seife completely changed his mind after my copy of his book was
published (2000), or Livescience.com got it completely wrong.

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