[R] Spreadsheet math problem (exponentiation)

John McKown john.archie.mckown at gmail.com
Fri Sep 18 18:46:34 CEST 2015

On Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 11:06 AM, Erich Neuwirth <
erich.neuwirth at univie.ac.at> wrote:

> Methinks that any math teaching should make learners aware of the fact that
> math conventions are not laws of nature, and that ambiguous expressions may
> produce different values in different systems.
> I think -2^2=4 is perfectly reasonable.

​I agree. That is what APL would do. Of course, the number "minus 2" in APL
is not encoded as "-2". It is encoded (hope this works) ¯2 ​This removes
the ambiguity.​

> In my experience, most people after high school math do not know that
> binary - und unary - are very different operations.
> And that is the fault of the current way of teaching math!

​Agree. Perhaps we should just "bite the bullet" and go with Reverse Polish
Notation for equations. Much easier to parse. No parentheses and no
ambiguities. Of course, this would raise more howls that converting from
Imperial measures to Metric did. ​We still haven't done this in the U.S. I
really want to! I sound much taller and thinner in metric. No, I won't say
what the number are. Bad enough that I'm old.


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Maranatha! <><
John McKown

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