Re: The word "symbol"

From: dawn <>
Date: 14 Aug 2005 20:28:41 -0700
Message-ID: <>

Marshall Spight wrote:
> dawn wrote:
> >
> > The question of whether to model integers used within software as
> > subclasses of strings, for example, makes sense when we understand that
> > 1234 is not a number, but a symbol for one, just as "David" is not a
> > name, but a symbol for one (in response to VC's question about whether
> > "symbol" and "name" are synonyms).
> this is not correct, though. 1234 *is* a number.

I disagree. Even if there were no symbol for the number 2, one could still have 2 sheep (as in the number 2). It is only when I need to communicate this information that I need a symbol or signifier of some kind. That could be a sound or visual symbol.

> '1234' is a symbol
> for a number. you have to be clear about the distinction.

yes, indeed. There is the number 1234 and then the signifier of 1234 for this number and then a signifier for a string with the characters '1234' which does not signify the number.

> '1234'
> is a string, but 1234 is an integer.

1234 is a representation of an integer, a signifier for an integer, although we often speak less formally and say that it IS an integer. When a user puts that signifier for a number into an input field in a form, someone has to make it clear (e.g. with a cast) that this signifies a number.

> Symbols and the things symbolized
> do not in general participate in a subtype relationship.

'1234' is a string. 1234 is a string that signifies the number represented by 1234.

> (David is
> not a subtype of 'David'.)

Right. 'David' is a string. David is a person. I cannot put David, the person, into the computer, so I model him with data including his first name of 'David'. I cannot put a number into a computer either, so I model them with string values as well. smiles --dawn

> Marshall
Received on Mon Aug 15 2005 - 05:28:41 CEST

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