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A question about 0

  1. Sep 9, 2006 #1
    In a whole number you can say whether it's negative or postive right?

    So what would you call 0??????

    would it just be called zero?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 9, 2006 #2

    Hurkyl

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    0 is nonnegative and nonpositive, and it is the only such integer.
     
  4. Sep 9, 2006 #3
    so is there a term for it???????

    I have to make a computer program that outputs whether the number is positive or negative, so when the user enters zero what should it output???
     
  5. Sep 9, 2006 #4

    Galileo

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    A blue screen with fatal exception error, followed by automatic reboot.
     
  6. Sep 9, 2006 #5
    but shouldn't the program output a different term when the number zero is typed in?
     
  7. Sep 9, 2006 #6
    Why not just have the program output: "0 is neither positive nor negative"
     
  8. Sep 9, 2006 #7

    StatusX

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    You could have the user ask "Is x positive or negative?" and when x is 0, instead of saying "positive" or "negative", just say "no".
     
  9. Sep 9, 2006 #8
    So it would be sort of like the boxer/briefs paradox?
     
  10. Sep 9, 2006 #9

    StatusX

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    Yea, same idea. Although I'm less troubled by the fact that 0 is neither positive or negative.
     
  11. Sep 9, 2006 #10

    shmoe

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    "0 is going commando" seems like the appropriate output.
     
  12. Sep 9, 2006 #11

    HallsofIvy

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    It was a joke, son, a joke! (And, in my opinion, a good one.)

    I would vote for responding "neither".
     
  13. Sep 10, 2006 #12

    arildno

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    Exactly!
    It is what is INSIDE that is important; externals like the labels "positive/negative" are unimportant stuff. :smile:
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2006
  14. Sep 11, 2006 #13
    It would probably output something along the lines of this:


    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y100/Robokapp/untitledfff.jpg

    But honestly, although it should stay blank, it will...probably say something. I mean let's look at it this way, it's a positive thing to have zero debts, but it's negative to have zero income...I guess it's up to the maker's financiar life...

    This should be in the psychology section.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2006
  15. Sep 11, 2006 #14

    -Job-

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    If the computer is using signed 2's Complement for number representation, then 0 will interpreted as a positive. Negative numbers would be the ones where the most significant bit is 1. Thus, 0 would be positive.
    Some number representations have both a negative 0 and a positive 0, for example. But signed 2's complement is a popular representation, and your best bet is that 0 is a positive number, if this is for a Computer Science course.
     
  16. Sep 11, 2006 #15
    In all honesty I think the problem lays in the meaning of the worlds "positive" and "negative". No matter how we look at it 0 wont turn negative... because it obviously involves a missing quantity. zero is the absence of quantity so nothing cant be missing.

    Now the last part of the second quote didn't look like english to me but...i quoted the whole paragraph...
     
  17. Sep 11, 2006 #16

    Hurkyl

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    Equivocation. :tongue: Your usage of those English words has absolutely nothing to do with the mathematical terms.



    I assume you meant "words". Positive means bigger than zero. Negative means less than zero. What's the problem with that?


    No, it is not. For example, when filling out a form, there's a huge difference between leaving

    Children: _____

    blank (absence of quantity), and filling it in

    Children: __0__

    with a zero.


    The only "problem" here is that natural language likes to single out small quantities linguistically. "Zero" isn't the only word with this problem: "one" also has a lot of specialized language associated with it (not to mention the different spellings required for many unspecialized words). And even "two", "three", and "four" have some specialized words associated with them.
     
  18. Sep 11, 2006 #17
    Children: __Maybe__
     
  19. Sep 12, 2006 #18
    Positive and negative numbers are just 2 states of integers/real numbers. Then there is 0! Numbers are really in tri-state and zero is the bridge joining positives to negatives. So the output must be either positive, negative or zero.

    However in computer science you are forced to accept that zero is a positive number since it is sometimes considered to be a natural number and is grouped with the positive numbers. So to conserve space of bits in registers they use just one bit (0 or 1) to describe the sign of the number instead of 2 bits (4 values) to include the zero state as well.

    Is zero a natural number?
     
  20. Sep 12, 2006 #19

    radou

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    No, zero is not a natural number.
     
  21. Sep 12, 2006 #20

    shmoe

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    There's no universal convention on whether 0 is a natural number or not. Some authors include it, some don't.
     
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