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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Re: Leading Zeros? (question rephrased)

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg54527] Re: [mg54378] Leading Zeros? (question rephrased)
  • From: János <janos.lobb at yale.edu>
  • Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2005 04:23:56 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <200502190732.CAA06154@smc.vnet.net>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

I missed the computer science classes - actually there was no computer 
science at that time :), but in general the practice I think is this:

If you plan to do computation with a value than store it as a number.  
If you do not do computation then store it as a string or text.  Almost 
all languages are providing converters from string to number and vice 
versa.

Now, there are cases when you use a number even if you do not do 
computation because of the storage of the number is more efficient than 
a string would be, like primary keys of database tables.

In many cases like I mentioned above, some other constraints of 
optimizations are driving the selection of number or string, that is 
practice rules theory.

János



On Feb 19, 2005, at 2:32 AM, AES wrote:

> Thanks for a couple of private msgs in response to my earlier post, but
> my question is not how to format or display numbers with leading zeros.
> Instead I'm asking, suppose I type
>    y = {001,002,003};
> into a newly opened "virgin" instance of Mathematica, without defining
> any special formats or rules before I do this.
> Are the leading zeros that I type into this list captured and stored
> somehow by Mathematica?
> Or is the default response that they're ignored and lost forever?  (As 
> I
> believe they are.)
> -------------
> P.S. -- I'm not trying to argue what Mathematica should do, either way.
> I'm just trying to learn whether Mathematica in particular, or
> mathematics or computer science generally, has any "official policies"
> on capturing or storing leading zeros that a user may type in, or that
> may be loaded into a database.
> The question arises in part because there's a scientific journal that
> identifies articles by "article numbers" rather than page numbers, with
> the initial digit of the article number sometimes being zero and
> sometimes non-zero, and the zero when it's present being mandatory (at
> least for some purposes).  This number, moreover, is treated for some
> purposes as a numerical value, though it's obviously also in some ways 
> a
> "text label" rather than a numerical value.
> Seem to me this is not a particularly wise design decision (although
> it's the case for ZIP codes also), and I'm wondering if there's any
> computer science thinking on it.]

------------------------------------------
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