One Plus OneDate: 04/11/97 at 23:15:49 From: Terra James Subject: One plus one Are you sure that 1 plus 1 equals 2? Date: 04/12/97 at 16:23:36 From: Doctor Mason Subject: Re: basic Math Terra, though I wonder if you composed your question tongue-in-cheek, it is actually a very good one. The answer is, "It depends." It depends on the understood base of operation; it depends on an acquired level of abstraction, and it depends on meaning of symbols and vocabulary. If you can find a course in the history of numbers, this would probably be one of the topics of discussion. We spend several weeks on this subject in a course I teach. However, to summarize briefly, 1 + 1 = 10 in base 2 since 2 is not a base 2 digit. In base 2, 10 represents 1 group of 2's and 0 ones. (This is what is known as a binary number. The prefix bi- means 2.) Consider our many words for two in English: pair of shoes, brace of partridges, yoke of oxen, etc. This indicates that originally the concept of "two" was linked to the object one was counting. "1" and "2" are arbitrary symbols which eventually developed to hold the meaning we know for them. It is not unlikely that they could have developed different meanings, or may have developed different meanings in other cultures. -Doctor Mason, The Math Forum Check out our web site! http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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