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  Topic: Uncommonly Dense Thread 2, general discussion of Dembski's site< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
RupertG



Posts: 80
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 03 2009,21:46   

Ah, now bignumber - or bignum - I can help you with. It's shorthand for computational maths that can cope with very big numbers indeed. There is no actual 'bignum' - if you like, you can think of it as infinity expressed in binary, but I may be wrong on that. I'm not that good at clever computational woggins, and this is very clever.

It's also the name of a road. From the New Hacker's Dictionary (somewhat, but not unduly, younger than me):

" The road mundanely called El Camino Real, running along San Francisco peninsula. It originally extended all the way down to Mexico City; many portions of the old road are still intact. Navigation on the San Francisco peninsula is usually done relative to El Camino Real, which defines logical north and south even though it isn't really north-south in many places. El Camino Real runs right past Stanford University and so is familiar to hackers.

The Spanish word `real' (which has two syllables: /ray-ahl'/) means `royal'; El Camino Real is `the royal road'. In the FORTRAN language, a `real' quantity is a number typically precise to seven significant digits, and a `double precision' quantity is a larger floating-point number, precise to perhaps fourteen significant digits (other languages have similar `real' types).

When a hacker from MIT visited Stanford in 1976, he remarked what a long road El Camino Real was. Making a pun on `real', he started calling it `El Camino Double Precision' -- but when the hacker was told that the road was hundreds of miles long, he renamed it `El Camino Bignum', and that name has stuck.  In recent years, the synonym `El Camino Virtual' has been reported as an alternate at IBM and Amdahl sites in the Valley. "

R

--------------
Uncle Joe and Aunty Mabel
Fainted at the breakfast table
Children, let this be a warning
Never do it in the morning -- Ralph Vaughan Williams

  
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