Re: NULLs: theoretical problems?

From: Brian Selzer <>
Date: Thu, 09 Aug 2007 11:54:46 GMT
Message-ID: <agDui.56706$>

"Bob Badour" <> wrote in message news:46ba4d24$0$4032$
> Marshall wrote:
>> On Aug 8, 1:20 pm, Bob Badour <> wrote:
>>>Jan Hidders wrote:
>>>>>>>exactly does that differ from scriptural interpretation and theories
>>>>>>Exactly! Rejecting straight away null values in any form or shape
>>>>>>without any sort of investigation of their properties would have been
>>>>>>much more scientific. :-)
>>>>>That doesn't answer the question. How does it differ from scriptural
>>>>>interpretation and theories thereof?
>>>>What makes you think they have anything in common?
>>>Each relates to interpretation and to an abstract entity taken as a
>> If I may jump in, I see a clear distinction. Where the domain is
>> abstraction
>> itself, as is the case in mathematics or database theory or whatever,
>> it is perfectly reasonable to just make stuff up and see how it
>> behaves.
>> If we get a useful formalism out of it, great; if not, we haven't
>> lost anything except the time spent on the investigation.
>> On the other hand, if we are discussing scriptural interpretation,
>> then those engaged in the process do *not* consider the domain
>> abstraction. Believers in deity x do not consider it an *abstraction*;
>> rather it is an attempt to explain the natural world. If they didn't
>> consider it "real" then they wouldn't be believers, would they?
>> Concepts such as natural numbers or relations or functions
>> do not exist in the same way that rocks and birds exist.
>> NULL "exists" in exactly the same way that 5 exists; the
>> only distinctions to be made between abstractions is in
>> their behavior and our judgment of their usefulness. I say
>> this even though I have a very low opinion of NULL.
>> Even the most solid and established database theory or
>> math is a purely human construct, and is generally understood
>> to be so by theoreticians in the field. I will not address the
>> question of what scripture *actually* is, but I will claim
>> that it is not understood to be a purely human construct
>> by its adherents.
>> Marshall
> I suggest that 5 represents a concrete concept. We spend much of our
> primary school years internalizing that concept and similar concepts. We
> understand the fiveness of the points of a star on the American flag
> versus the sixness of the points of a Star of David.

5 is not a concrete concept. To be concrete is to be possibly spatiotemporally located. 5 does not appear in nature, but rather the physical manifestations of 5.

> From those concepts and from other concrete examples we build the concepts
> of rational, irrational and even complex numbers.
> We note the usefulness of certain operations. We extend those to further
> useful operations. Eventually, we start to reason about the properties of
> operations like distributivity, for example, divorced from any specific
> operation.
> Eventually, we start to reason about entire algebras.
> Similarly, we can start with concrete concepts of true and false. We
> reason about conditions lacking certainty to invent probability and "fuzzy
> logic".
> I just don't see where NULL comes from or where it goes. It seems to me
> like nothing more than a bad idea someone once thought would be expedient
> but was anything but.
Received on Thu Aug 09 2007 - 13:54:46 CEST

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