Re: Tally marks (was: Re: missing symbol?)

From: Richard Wordingham (
Date: Sat Feb 10 2007 - 19:37:21 CST

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    Doug Ewell wrote on Saturday, February 10, 2007 10:28 PM

    > Richard Wordingham <richard dot wordingham at ntlworld dot com> wrote:
    >>>> And what about six to ten? I sometimes remember to stack them in pairs
    >>>> to simplify the conversion to decimal.
    >>> That would be a layout problem.
    >> The mark-up being?
    > The white space and line breaks necessary to achieve this stacking:
    > ||||/ ||||/
    > ||||/ ||||/
    > ||||/ ||||/
    > etc.

    That totally fails to capture the fact that there would be two aligned rows
    of strokes on the same logical line. Moreover, laying it out as:

    E-mails on tally marks: |
    with white space and line breaks is unlikely to work when viewed with a
    proportional font. The only robust mark-up I can think of works at the
    paragraph level (e.g. tab control) or higher (e.g. tables).

    > They're not the same [as tally marks], but they are comparable. They are
    > essentially > groups of short marks arranged in a way that facilitates
    > their identification as numbers. My point was that the "modern" tally
    > marks, grouped into sets of five, have as much legitimacy to encoding as
    > the Aegean numbers.

    The difference is that the Aegean numerals record the final number. They,
    and the counting rod numerals, use a grouping notation and only expand
    logarithmically with the number denoted. They are suitable for expressing
    moderate totals. Tally marks grow linearly with the number denoted and are
    not suitable for reporting results. They might just be suitable for storing
    and resuming a count, but I have a hard job seeing someone wanting to print
    out a tally for the purpose of updating it. When I have completed a tally,
    I write the number as a decimal number after it unless I can read the tally
    at a glance. I would not really want to represent 157 as 31 gates and 2
    strokes. Tallies are intermediate calculations.


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