piclist 2001\06\04\042543a >
Thread: ENOUGH! (was: "Re: [OT]: Brain Burp Rounding??")
www.piclist.com/techref/index.htm?key=brain+burp+rounding
BY : Andrew Warren email (remove spam text)

David VanHorn <PICLISTMITVMA.MIT.EDU> wrote:

> I'm sorry it's so upsetting to you.

Thanks, Dave.  I don't know WHY this thread makes me so crazy --
it really shouldn't -- but I just can't help it.  I know you're
not deliberately trolling for an argument.

> 0.9 is different from 1 by a tenth part.
> 0.99, by a hundredth.

Ok, maybe it's easier if we turn the original assertion around:

What if I said that the DEFINITION of "infinite" is "the number
of 9s you'd have to append to 0.9 in order to make that number
equal to 1"?  Would that make sense?

Perhaps you could look at it in this casual, common-sense way:

If 0.999... APPROACHES 1 as the number of 9s APPROACHES infinity,
then 0.999... EQUALS 1 when the number of 9s EQUALS infinity.

Do either of those approaches help?

> It seems that it all hinges on what infinity means

Well, yeah.

> people like Feynman and Hawking are having trouble with
> calculations where infinity pops in

Feynman hasn't been having trouble with ANY calculations since
he died, and if Hawking could speak, I'm pretty sure he'd tell
you that 0.999... is equal to 1.

> I'm not bothered that it causes me trouble.

That's fine... But the fact that you have difficulty with the
concept isn't a good reason to assert that mathematics is wrong.

> It wasn't that long ago that "zero" didn't exist in mathmatics.

"Zero" has ALWAYS existed in mathematics: "If Julius has X
apples, and he gives III to Brutus and VII to Biggus Dickus, how
many apples remain?"

It's just the "0" SYMBOL which hasn't always existed.

> I'm sure the scholars of that day thought their mathematics was
> quite complete and correct as well.

That's an argument AGAINST your point of view, not for it.

-Andy

=== Andrew Warren - fastfwdix.netcom.com
=== Fast Forward Engineering - San Diego, CA
=== http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/2499

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