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OT: Number bases

From:Henrik Theiling <theiling@...>
Date:Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 12:03

Mark J. Reed writes:
> Balanced ternary and base -2 have both been proposed seriously in > academic circles, because they avoid the arbitrariness of modern sign > representation schemes (though 2's complement is unarguably elegant). >...
Well, I don't like it because it's, well, not balanced. And usually floats and multiprecision libraries (e.g. libgmp) use unsigned + a sign bit as a representation, also because printing a number is easier then (with two's complement, you have to negate a negative number to print it for humans), so there are always two ways out there to represent a signed number. Ternary logic would also eliminate those awful hacks from computer languages: unsigned numbers. They are a major cause for serious bugs like buffer overflows and integer underflows. Humans just don't care whether a number is signed or unsigned (and rightly so), so programmers make mistakes. (Ok, higher level languages today have no unsigned numbers anymore, but there are still recent invensions that keep this plague.) Balanced ternary would be much more elegant for many things (e.g. strcmp...). But electrically, I think it is much more complicated than binary, I think. And, of course, it's virtually impossible to switch now. **Henrik


Mark J. Reed <markjreed@...>