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Seth David Schoen schoen at loyalty.org
Mon Jul 10 16:09:04 PDT 2000

Bernard writes:

> 08Jul2000 11:52PM (-0700) From [schoen at loyalty.org] schoen [Seth David Schoen]
> > Bernard writes:
> > 
> > > But you have to leave it to me to be the one on top.  If you'll
> > > move away from your ancient papyrus and alphabetophilic sorting
> > > you'll find me listed under;
> > > 	\000
> > > 
> > Haven't discovered negative numbers yet?
> I was constraining myself (which, I will allow, is a flaw) to
> some form of byte representation in which case I WIN!
> However, I bow to your (far) superior mathematical knowledge
> and am sure you can come up with something like negative
> infinity or even less.

It's interesting to think about Robinson's nonstandard analysis (the
other "NSA"), in which there are infinitesimals which are smaller in
magnitude than every standard real number.  (The original formulation
of differential and integral calculus involved "fluxions", which are
kind of like real numbers, only potentially very much smaller than
them.  The rigorous analysts of the 1800s and early 1900s managed to
completely banish fluxions and infinitesimal quantities from the
calculus, because they felt so guilty after George Berkeley made fun
of them.  So now we learn calculus with limits and define real numbers
with Dedekind cuts, and suppose that infinitely small numbers _don't_
exist.  Abraham Robinson basically said, well, maybe those
infinitesimals _aren't_ so sloppy after all, and maybe the formulation
of the calculus can be made rigorous using them.)

That would create an interesting situation for telephone books.  "The
name of your business must be a standard positive real."  "But my
business is named with a fluxion!  I'm _way_ before all those other

Seth David Schoen <schoen at loyalty.org>  | And do not say, I will study when I
Temp.  http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/  | have leisure; for perhaps you will
down:  http://www.loyalty.org/   (CAF)  | not have leisure.  -- Pirke Avot 2:5

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