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how should a calculator parse bracketed numbers? Do we need a mode setting
01-07-2016, 12:22 AM
Post: #1
how should a calculator parse bracketed numbers? Do we need a mode setting
Many calculators have an implied multiply and mathematicians may not be surprised if
2(4)
Returns
8.

But physicists sometimes use a similar syntax to represent uncertainty in a measurement:

3.14(23)
Is understood to mean something like
a number between 3.14+0.0023 and 3.14-0.0023
(Perhaps that's not quite right, but its not 3.14*23).

So if I am trying to parse a number in a cell or a string or a file and it contains
3.14(23)

(1) how can I tell what it means?
(2) how can a calculator tell what it means?
(3) do any calculators have a maths/physics mode?
(4) Or is there a subtle difference in the syntax that I have misread?

Stephen Lewkowicz (G1CMZ)
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01-07-2016, 06:29 AM
Post: #2
RE: how should a calculator parse bracketed numbers? Do we need a mode setting
AFAIK, 3.14(23) would mean a number between 2.91 and 3.37. I've not seen anything alike used for implied multiplication in mathematics yet.

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01-07-2016, 07:11 AM
Post: #3
RE: how should a calculator parse bracketed numbers? Do we need a mode setting
(01-07-2016 06:29 AM)walter b Wrote:  AFAIK, 3.14(23) would mean a number between 2.91 and 3.37.

You're right. Detailed explanation in the following Wikipedia article, under Measurements:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty
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01-11-2016, 01:43 AM
Post: #4
RE: how should a calculator parse bracketed numbers? Do we need a mode setting
Little is known about how people comprehend mathematical expressions.

pg. 206, Ch. 22 Enlightening Symbols by Joseph Mazur.

ANY of the numerous books on the history of mathematical notation is edifying with respect to the vagaries of notation employed in computational expressions. I have doubts the FINAL and definite tome is written.

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