3.614 ones, zeroes, etc. (82)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Fri, 20 Oct 89 21:29:46 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 614. Friday, 20 Oct 1989.

(1) Date: Wed, 18 Oct 89 21:24 EST (13 lines)
From: F5400000@LAUVAX01.BITNET
Subject: Computer numbers

(2) Date: Friday, 20 October 1989 0000-EST (21 lines)
From: TREAT@PENNDRLS (Jay Treat, Religious Studies, Penn)
Subject: What's really inside the computer

(3) Date: Fri, 20 Oct 89 12:53:11 CDT (23 lines)
From: "Michael S. Hart" <HART@UIUCVME>
Subject: Re: 3.606 culture in computers (61)

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 89 21:24 EST
From: F5400000@LAUVAX01.BITNET
Subject: Computer numbers

On the subject of there being no "1's" and "0's" inside computers
I must beg to differ on the grounds of experience. Recently I
was running a long programme on my computer; while I was out of
the room for a few minutes, my cat knocked the machine over,
breaking its case. By the time I had got back my study was full
of tiny "1's" and "0's" which had to be removed manually. I find
the "0's" very useful as a substitute for the styrofoam chips
used in packing books, but I have not yet found a use for the
"1's" - any suggestions? John Sandys-Wunsch.
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------26----
Date: Friday, 20 October 1989 0000-EST
From: TREAT@PENNDRLS (Jay Treat, Religious Studies, Penn)
Subject: What's really inside the computer

The discussion about the real name of what's inside the computer (1's
and 0's, TRUE's and FALSE's) has gotten a bit too metaphysical. We're
talking about a lot of little two-position switches, and you can name
the two positions anything appropriate (on/off, 1/0, true/false). It's
all the same. If you want numbers, treat them as numbers. If you want
Booleans, treat them as Booleans. Combine them and you can have
letters, or bitmaps, or widgits.

As a corollary, in the computer world, AND is a common operator for
numbers. 1 AND 1 is 1, 1 AND 0 is 0. It happens that AND is a quick
way of doing modulo arithmetic when the divisor is a power of 2. For
example, 1234567 MOD 16 can be done calculated more quickly as 1234567
AND 15. This little trick will shave valuable time off a tight loop
that has to calculate modulos.

Regards, Jay Treat, Nominalist, Religious Studies, Penn
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------32----
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 89 12:53:11 CDT
From: "Michael S. Hart" <HART@UIUCVME>
Subject: Re: 3.606 culture in computers (61)

I would like to voice my support of the note of Jan Eveleth EVELETH@YALEVM
dated as above.

Not even Michael Sperberg McQueen would deny that the information processed
by computers is stored in (tera-giga-mega-kilo) bits and bytes and that the
processing occurs on the BInary digIT level(from which proceeds the acronym
BIT) nor that BIT's come in only two numerical values 1 and 0 which are the
lowest level of programming and textual language available to even the most
sophisticated users of bi-valued logic.

However, Jan speaks more eloquently than any of us when she reminds Michael
of the actual subject matter at hand, and gently guides the discussion back
on to the path in a manner which is beyond my own capability - my responses
were censored by Willard as being a potential ad hominem set of remarks.

Hopefully, you will all wish to respond to the issue of humanist computing,
as restated in Jan's note, which deserves re-reading at least one time.

Michael