[OT]Big endian eggs
laurencerozier at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 23 03:08:47 UTC 2003
--- Colin Putney <cputney at wiresong.ca> wrote:
> On Friday, August 22, 2003, at 03:51 PM, Avi Bryant
> > On Fri, 22 Aug 2003, Colin Putney wrote:
> >> On Friday, August 22, 2003, at 02:22 PM, Andreas
> Raab wrote:
> >>> And now that we got this let's go back to the
> roots for real. Why do
> >>> we
> >>> actually write numbers big-endian? ;-)
> >> Well, actually we write them little-endian in a
> right-to-left script.
> >> Whoever stole arabic numerals from the arabs
> apparently didn't bother
> >> to do the required digit-swapping when using them
> with the Roman
> >> alphabet. Perhaps it was because Roman numerals
> were big-endian.
> > ... except that I thought "arabic" numerals
> originated in India, and
> > most
> > Indian scripts are left to right.
> Yeah, but that's much more murky. There was all
> sorts of mathematics
> going on in India and Arabia during the Dark Ages -
> it was only dark in
> Europe. My understanding is that the invention of
> zero happened after
> the Arabs were aware of the Indian notation, and
> that's when it became
> a real place-value system that we'd recognize.
Well, sort of ... the "invention" of zero goes way
back at least to the Babylonians and later Greeks but
the Arabs were clearly at the center of the emergence
of the modern form ...
> Certainly the Arabs
> adapted it to their own purposes.
> It was more stable by the time it reached Spain,
> though, so the
> transition there is fairly clean cut. Of course, I
> don't really know
> what I'm talking about, not being a historian and
> all. I'm fascinated
> by this sort of thing though, so if anybody has good
> a good reference
> on the subject I'd like to know about it.
> Particularly the left-right
Number Words and Number Symbols: A Cultural History of
Numbers by Karl Menninger has some interesting
insights here especially wrt the interplay between
words, abbreviations of words and symbols. I suspect
that the influences of nature, convienence, logic,
religion, politics and finance are so deeply
intertwingled here that it may be impossible to
indentify clear and contiguous connections. That may
be part of what makes it so facinating. :-)
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