Select Page

Arabic Numerals, the Supreme Court, and Where Credit Is Due

I agree with Josh that Justice Breyer’s opinion in Google LLC v. Oracle America, Inc. is a great read, but I had some questions about this passage:

Sun decided, for example, that its API [Application Programming Interface] would call up a task that compares one integer with another to see which is the larger. Sun’s API (to our knowledge) will not call up the task of determining which great Arabic scholar decided to use Arabic numerals (rather than Roman numerals) to perform that “larger integer” task.

(1) Is this some specific pun or cultural allusion that I’m missing? Or is it just a reference to the fact that a different Google product—Google Search—would be used to make that determination, coupled with a shout-out to Arabic mathematics?

And if the latter, is the reference to “great Arabic scholar” quite right, or might it be Hindu scholars (or perhaps Persian scholars) who deserve the credit?

(2) What does it mean to suggest (if I’m understanding the suggestion correctly) that a computer is using Arabic numerals rather than Roman numerals to perform a “max” function, given that the computer using binary? I suppose binary can be said to be inspired by Hindu-Arabic numerals, in that it’s a place-value notation; is that it? Also, does it seem odd to think of electrical states as “numerals”? Or is the opinion simply referring to how modern humans do the maximum determination, rather than to how computers do it?


This post has been republished with permission from a publicly-available RSS feed found on Reason. The views expressed by the original author(s) do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Libertarian Hub, its owners or administrators. Any images included in the original article belong to and are the sole responsibility of the original author/website. The Libertarian Hub makes no claims of ownership of any imported photos/images and shall not be held liable for any unintended copyright infringement. Submit a DCMA takedown request.

-> Click Here to Read the Original Article <-

About The Author

Eugene Volokh

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit https://reason.com

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome

Bringing together a variety of news and information from some of today’s most important libertarian thought leaders. All feeds are checked and refreshed every hour and pages auto-refresh every 15 minutes. External images are deleted after 30 days.

Time since last refresh: 0 second

Publish Your Own Article

Follow The Libertarian Hub

 

Support Our Work

Support the Libertarian Hub by tipping with Bitcoin!

Weekly Newsletter

Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!

Weekly Newsletter SignupTop 5 Stories of the Week

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a weekly email report of the top five most popular articles on the Libertarian Hub!