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Humanist Archives: Jan. 31, 2020, 6:39 a.m. Humanist 33.578 - software & (ethno)mathematics

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 578.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                   Hosted by King's Digital Lab
                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

        Date: 2020-01-31 01:41:49+00:00
        From: William Pascoe 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.577: software & (ethno)mathematics?

I seem to remember reading something in the history of computing, related to the
Lovelace/Babbage invention about a basic mechanical 'computer' that worked with
continuous number systems (using slides), rather than a discrete system. There
was some brief speculation on what computers might be like if they used
continuous rather than discrete mathematics, so you might be able to find
something along those lines.

I also remember some contemplation in a tute on cyborgs about how hung up
Westerners are about the body and the clear distinction between it and the
world, and the identification of our 'self' with our body - in contrast to a
Hindu view that the body is merely the clothing of the soul (to simplistically
paraphrase a proverb). Also how if you have a background in Eastern philosophy
the permeability or 'illusion' of a distinction between self and world, or body
and world, that you get in cybernetics is much more easy to understand, accept,
or just take for granted anyway rather than being a big deal.

I remember you were once interested in computation of genealogy on a CD of the
book People Of The River Mouth. I've heard of people researching indigenous
number systems at Wollotuka here, and some mention of base 5 Yolngu number in
the book 'Welcome To My Country'. So you'd probably find something on indigenous
mathematics if you dig.

Incidentally, I had a revelation about Sumerian, or any, hexadecimal numbering
system not long ago. I'd be happy to hear if anyone already understood or this,
because I've never heard anyone explain it this way before, though it's so
simple. People say the decimal system arises because it's easy to count on your
fingers, and then wonder where the hexadecimal system comes from - that perhaps
it adds the two hands, or the two feet to the count, to reach 12 instead of 10.
It's much simpler than that. Try using your thumbs to count the joints in your
fingers. It feels natural and once you get to 12 you can use the other hand to
go up to 12*12=144. Very 'handy' in the marketplace.

Kind regards,

Dr Bill Pascoe
System Architect
Time Layered Cultural Map Of Australia
C21CH Digital Humanities Lab

T: 0435 374 677
E: bill.pascoe@newcastle.edu.au

The University of Newcastle (UON)
University Drive
Callaghan NSW 2308

The University of Newcastle is in the lands of Awabakal, Worimi, Wonaruah,
Biripi and Darkinjung people.

From: Humanist 
Sent: Thursday, 30 January 2020 5:30 PM
To: publish-liv@humanist.kdl.kcl.ac.uk 
Subject: [Humanist] 33.577: software & (ethno)mathematics?

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 577.
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
Hosted by King's Digital Lab
Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

Date: 2020-01-30 06:20:04+00:00
From: Willard McCarty 
Subject: software and mathematics

Perhaps someone here can help me out with thoughts or references to work
on the question of software and mathematics. This is an old question, as
you may know, but to my knowledge it has always been pursued from the
perspective of modern Western mathematics. Has anyone to your knowledge
raised the question with ethnomathematics in mind? Has anyone asked what
kind of maths software might be, allowing maths to be any kind of
practical reckoning, symbolic or numerical?

I may be asking the wrong question, so a course-correction is perhaps
what I need. Any comments?

Many thanks.

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/),
Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and
Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org)

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