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MathGroup Archive 1992

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converting from base to base...

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: converting from base to base...
  • From: David Elbert <ELBERT at midd.bitnet>
  • Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1992 19:10 EST

Concerning "gaylord"'s problem of converting bases:

I think there is a misunderstanding of pg 357 of edition
2 of the big book.  The double carat (^^), is not a mathematical
function that can have its evaluation delayed, or accept a
variable for the value of "n" as in 2^^n.  This is purely an
input form device to allow you to enter a number from an
arbitrary base into Mma.  The number is immediately converted
to base 10.  The complement to this function is BaseForm[], which is
another purely formatting function that allows you to print out a number
in another base.  Try:


to see how they work.  It returns:


which is a formatted way of writting 12 in base 3 (which is 101 in
base 2 or 5 in base 10).  If you then execute

you will see the result
Which demonstrates that the result of BaseForm is just a formatted
version of a number and so only applies to  one cell.  These just aren't
math functions.

It seems to me you may be able to use the age old method of
trickery/cleverness to avoid the problem.  Convert the numbers to base ten
by entering them with ^^ before you need to pass them around.  If you
really need have the conversion as a function..perhaps you have calculated
 a value in some other base and want to express it in base ten without
retyping it..I think you're sunk and will have to actually
write a little procedure to do base conversions.

Hope that helps the confusion even if it doesn't offer an answer.

David Elbert
Department of Geology
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Elbert at midd.bitnet

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