# Re: bit notation in ISO-8859-x is wrong

From: James Kass (jameskass@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Sun Oct 10 2004 - 22:57:16 CST

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Where to begin?
The topic is hot.
Some think one,
the others think naught.

Doug Ewell wrote,

> ... Bits certainly
> belong to both worlds, and as one can see by reading Mackenzie's 1980
> book, so do coded character sets.

Topicality attempt noted.

Marcin 'Qrczak' Kowalczyk wrote,

> (as many people order bits backwards, i.e. from the most significant).

It seems somebody's always trying to put the cart before the horse.

> Because then the number of a bit doesn't correspond to the exponent
> of its weight, so I even don't know in which order they are specified

But, if we wanted to number the bits in a truly binary fashion,
couldn't the first bit be bit one and the second bit be bit one-zero?

Or, should the first bit be bit one, the second bit be bit two, and
the third bit be bit *four*?

If we really have to keep the exponents in mind, wouldn't it be
the better practice to be specific and call the first bit the
"two-to-the-zeroith-bit" and the second bit the "two-to-the-first-bit"?
That might be less confusing to those who begin with one. Perhaps
the exponent proponents should be required to do so...

Asmus Freytag wrote,

> Not counting from zero leads to weird situations at times, such
> as the missing year 0 in the BC/AD system ;-)

In the year zero, nothing happened.

Cristian SecarÄƒ wrote,

> There is serious reason for that: when it comes to exponent of 2,
> counting from zero makes sense, as the first bit (b0)
> value calculation is 2^0=1, the second bit (b1) value calculation
> is 2^1=2, ..., the eight bit (b7) value calculation is 2^7=128.

More people seem comfortable with ordinal numbers than exponents.
Thus, the 1st bit is bit 1, the 2nd bit bit 2, and so on. That's what
ordinal numbers are for. Part of their beauty is the correlation.

James Kass wrote,

> There are no businesses claiming, "We're number zero!"

Wrong. Dang!

Best regards,

James Kass

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