Re: Vulgar fractions (was: 8859-1, 8859-15, 1252 and Euro)

From: Doug Ewell (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2000 - 10:30:33 EST

Paul Keinanen <> wrote:

> While the rational number consists of two integers and since the number
> of integers is infinite, so must the number of rational numbers also
> be. Thus, I do not see the point of encoding some selected fractions
> with special character codes. Even with integers, I do not know of any
> writing system that would have a special symbol for say, 17384, but it
> is composed of a limited number of component, quite often (but not
> always) based on some kind of the base 10 positional system.

If Paul's point is that we should not encode and unless we also
create a code point for, say, 7567/17384, then I disagree. There is a
limited amount of space in an 8-bit, or even a 16- or 31-bit, encoding.
Some characters are more widely used than others, and are more worthy of

If Paul's point is that and can also be represented by the sequences
1/4 and 1/2 (as I did in my original message), I can't argue with that.
However, I still think there are other characters in Latin-1, such as
and , that are less commonly used and hence more expendable.

Of course, as Michael Everson pointed out, all these problems go away if
we use Unicode. People have been saying this for years, and others have
responded, "But that will take a long time." But today the two most
common Web browsers for PCs are UTF-8 enabled, and new operating systems
and applications increasingly support Unicode, so although the revolution
may be far from complete, it is finally underway.

-Doug Ewell
 Fullerton, California

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