Re: hexatridecimal internationalisation

From: Marnen Laibow-Koser (
Date: Fri Jun 22 2007 - 11:04:28 CDT

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    On Jun 22, 2007, at 11:07 AM, George W Gerrity wrote:
    > As a retired Computer Scientist who has published on Computer
    > Arithmetic and Computer Design and someone well versed in Number
    > Theory, I can assure you that there is absolutely no future for
    > (human-readable) representations in bases larger than 16, even
    > assuming that future internal representations do not use numbers
    > based on a power of 2 (the smallest computationally-useful Prime
    > Number), but some power of another small Prime Number, such as 3,
    > 5, 7, 11, or even 13.

    I agree with you that this thread is a bit strange, but I must take
    issue with your statement here. I don't know why you seem to think
    that there's some sort of magic limit at 16, and in fact I have seen
    practical applications of number bases greater than 16. The one that
    springs most immediately to mind is a hack for use in situations of
    limited memory, which I have seen recommended in at least one
    programming text. The hack takes advantage of the fact that 36^3 <
    2^16 in order to represent 3-character strings in [0-9A-Z] as 16-bit
    integers in base 36, thus using two bytes per pseudostring rather
    than four (assuming a length byte or terminator). Also, while this
    may not be current today, I remember seeing base-32 notation (with
    digits up to V) in active use on the Amiga, and I wouldn't be
    completely surprised if it were resurrected at some point. And of
    course there's base64 encoding, though that's certainly not meant to
    be human-readable...

    Also, it's extremely common in developing for 32-bit architectures
    (particularly Mac OS) to refer to certain 32-bit constants as
    pseudostrings of 4 8-bit ASCII characters, which is effectively
    writing them in base 255. That mmay be a borderline case, however.

    I think we are really drifting off the list topic here.


    Marnen Laibow-Koser

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