From: Philippe Verdy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Nov 09 2003 - 12:37:27 EST
From: "Simon Butcher" <email@example.com>
> However personally, when dealing with a octet, or an arbitrary number
> of octets, I believe the byte-pictures would be much easier to deal with
> (especially when dealing with a lot of raw data).
Except that it would require 256 new codepoints, instead of just 6 for the
proposed HEX DIGIT characters.
What is complicate, when dealing with lot of raw data, to convert it to
nibbles then coded with numeric code points, rather than converting
bytes to code points? You just add a shift and mask operation to output
2 code points rather than just adding each byte as an offset of a base
code point. Still, you need to convert your raw data to suitable code
points to display the HEX BYTE characters.
In fact this shift & mask operation is coded since long and does not
cause any problem to any software, even for performance reasons,
as you still need to allocate an external buffer to store the converted
HEX character sequence.
What you propose is NOT a complementary set of digits for base 16,
but a complete new set of numbers in base 256, so that a glyph
like  will be displayed instead of just 0 (this is a disunification
of all the existing ASCII digits, as if it was a new script using its own
Other historic numbering systems are used today and better suited
for representation, notably the compound base (12, 5), when
people where counting the first digit in one hand with the first finger
pointing on the 3 phallanges of the 4 other fingers, and the other
hand was used to count the second order digit by raising each of
its 5 fingers.
This tradition has survived when counting time
(seconds in minute, hours in day, months in year), and it was an
enhancement of the Roman system where people were counting
fingers (not phallanges) in a compound base (5,2).
The other historic numbering system used a similar compound
base (20, 5), and still survives in the French spelling (in France) of
base numbers 60 and 80 (where it is explicit in its name
"quatre-vingt"). It comes from a medieval tradition, where all
subdivisions of 100 was not 10, but 20, and there were distinctive
names for all numbers from 1 to 19, added to the base-20
Going to base 10 has come very late, when the zero digit was
finally admitted in Europe and borrowed from the Arabic "zifer"
tradition, which created a specific glyph for the 0 (first it was a
simple dot), this inheriting from the Indian tradition where 0 was
represented by a space (but with possible confusion between
101 and 1001, as they where both written as "1 1", and
The _number_ 0 (and negative numbers) only came after
(before, it was simply not written, or a word was used...), when
merchants needed to align their figures in tables to facilitate their
accounting work and were not satisfied by leaving a blank space.
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