Date: Feb 6, 2013 11:47 AM
Author: GS Chandy
Subject: Re: Proving a definition of multiplication (wrong) by induction

Jonathan Crabtree posted  Feb 6, 2013 9:19 AM:
>
> Re: Charles Smith
> "A Treatise on Algebra" (1896)
> http://books.google.com/books?id=BagXAAAAIAAJ
>

<SNIP>
Thanks for that interesting extract from Charles Smith's "A treatise on Algebra". The story of the 'multiplication scam' is fascinating and, in general, is a very useful demonstration of the point you've been making. However, I do object to the way Mr Smith has spelt the noun naming 'a person who uses an abacus'. Whatever it may be, it should NOT (I believe) be spelt "abacist"!

And thanks for that excerpt from Stephen Strogatz's "The Joy of X" and its lovely graphical illustration of "commutativity". The comments from readers were also most interesting (and some of them do hint at the point I make below). [I believe - without having looked at any other contents of this book - that a better title for the book might have been: "The Joys of X"].

But check out my post at http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=8250088 :

Most discussions of complex issues are bound to go quite a bit "'round and 'round the mulberry bush" (when they are conducted in 'pure prose') - as demonstrated right here at this thread.

The tools described in the attachments to my post linked to at that post (heading the thread "Democracy - how to achieve it?") can help prevent a good many such needless, wasteful, often tiresome circuits around a variety of mulberry bushes. Sometimes, such running around could lead to considerable fruitless argumentation and even heat and needless anger in our discussions: in complex issues, we are often prevented from ever reaching a reasonable consensus on truly important and even urgent issues. Witness, for instance, the strident, rather foolish calls to "PUT THE EDUCATION MAFIA IN JAIL!".

GSC