0263: "Certainty"

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0263: "Certainty"

Postby Iluvatar » Fri May 18, 2007 4:02 am UTC

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http://xkcd.com/c263.html
Title text: "a(bc)=(ab)+(ac). Politicize that, bitches."
Note: Am Imissing something, or is he missing a "+"?
Edit: title text now reads: "a(b+c)=(ab)+(ac). Politicize that, bitches."

Heh, very cool, very true. That's why I love software. And also why I love politics.
Last edited by Iluvatar on Fri May 18, 2007 12:20 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby parsonsb » Fri May 18, 2007 4:04 am UTC

yeah i was noticing that the alt text didn't seem right either

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Postby Sgeo » Fri May 18, 2007 4:05 am UTC

Title: a(bc)=(ab)+(ac). Politicize that, bitches.

That's wrong. It should be a(b+c)=(ab)+(ac)

EDIT: Ok, I should assume that others will always find the errors before I do..
Last edited by Sgeo on Fri May 18, 2007 4:07 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby crazyjimbo » Fri May 18, 2007 4:06 am UTC

It's funnier when its wrong

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Postby Iluvatar » Fri May 18, 2007 4:06 am UTC

Title: a(bc)=(ab)+(ac). Politicize that, bitches.

That's wrong. It should be a(b+c)=(ab)+(ac)
Such was my guess.
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Postby Sgeo » Fri May 18, 2007 4:10 am UTC

It could be that xkcd is saying to try to politicize a lie, or .. reaching.. especially where I should be sleeping..

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Postby Drake Zure » Fri May 18, 2007 4:10 am UTC

wrongness=funny.

what's lesson number two?

anyways, this is very funny. i've known a few smart people who use their brains only for rationalizing.

i myself use mine only for making excuses, creating mix CD's, and writing bad love poems.
some people find it charming. my girlfriend thinks the CD's are fun to blast through her house so as to annoy others.
i'm always happy to supply her with ammunition :D it's 'cause i'm evil.
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Re: "Certainty" Discussion

Postby JoshuaZ » Fri May 18, 2007 4:11 am UTC

Perhaps our esteemed comic writer has not read enough post-modernist and associated material? He would then know that math is in fact a patriarchal social construct...

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Postby Iluvatar » Fri May 18, 2007 4:12 am UTC

TO be honest, that almost illustrates the point more. We could have a debate right now about whether a(bc) = (ab) + (bc), but it would be a simple debate, since a(b+c) = (ab) + (bc) is a simple universal truth. I gotta say, this comic hits me; this is the reason I'm fond of math. It's akin to why I love coding (no debate, and it's always my fault). Rock on.
Last edited by Iluvatar on Fri May 18, 2007 12:23 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mikesty » Fri May 18, 2007 4:15 am UTC

I like how he drew the silhouettes and such through the window of the door.

And, uh, all of that debate stuff, and the concrete beauty of math.
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Postby Velociraptor4life » Fri May 18, 2007 4:18 am UTC

Concrete beauty of math only applies when you get it right.


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Postby Drake Zure » Fri May 18, 2007 4:20 am UTC

i'm kinda wondering what that paper by the door says, and what the math teacher is reading.
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Postby yitzle » Fri May 18, 2007 4:23 am UTC

Sgeo wrote:It could be that xkcd is saying to try to politicize a lie, or .. reaching.. especially where I should be sleeping..

Or it could be a typo :P

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Postby archgoon » Fri May 18, 2007 4:25 am UTC

a(bc)=ab+ac

Well, for all values of b,c where a is zero, or all values of a where b and c are zero. Any nontrivial solutions? So, not exactly a universal truth, though sometimes true.

Though I would like to cheerfully point out without clear definitions and defined spaces, its very hard to come up with 'universally' true statements.

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Postby The LuigiManiac » Fri May 18, 2007 4:28 am UTC

Iluvatar wrote:TO be honest, that almost illustrates the point more. We could have a debate right now about whether a(bc) = (ab) + (bc), but it would be a simple debate, since it is a simple universal truth.


I reject that formula, and substitute my own

...

I just mentioned the unmentionable there, didn't I?

Anyways, I say it isn't a universal truth. A universal truth is something like, say, a(b+c) = (ab) + (ac).
Last edited by The LuigiManiac on Fri May 18, 2007 4:29 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Spoiler:
THE CAKE IS A 3.141592653589...!

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Postby SpitValve » Fri May 18, 2007 4:29 am UTC

This comic reminds me that maths is awesome.

Or math, whatever.

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Postby Hawknc » Fri May 18, 2007 4:34 am UTC

I await Kira's entrance so that she can explain what she is doing in yet another comic.
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Postby luqui » Fri May 18, 2007 4:36 am UTC

Iluvatar wrote:TO be honest, that almost illustrates the point more. We could have a debate right now about whether a(bc) = (ab) + (bc), but it would be a simple debate, since it is a simple universal truth. I gotta say, this comic hits me; this is the reason I'm fond of math. It's akin to why I love coding (no debate, and it's always my fault). Rock on.


"no debate, and it's always my fault" unless you're coding in Flash, in which case it is occasionally ActionScript's fault :-)

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im a math teacher

Postby brandontri » Fri May 18, 2007 4:39 am UTC

I'm a math teacher and love that comic.

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Postby archgoon » Fri May 18, 2007 4:40 am UTC

Right, we're solving

b*c=b+c for every a != 0.

so

(b-1)*c=b
c=b/(b-1)

so we have two sheets that are curved like 1/x, the entire bc plane, and a line going up through the origin along the a-axis.

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Postby archgoon » Fri May 18, 2007 4:42 am UTC

The LuigiManiac wrote:Anyways, I say it isn't a universal truth. A universal truth is something like, say, a(b+c) = (ab) + (ac).


Not when a is a scalar and b and c are strings.

edit:cleanup.

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Postby Woxor » Fri May 18, 2007 5:09 am UTC

Drake Zure wrote:i'm kinda wondering what that paper by the door says, and what the math teacher is reading.

"AWARD: Randall Munroe Awarded Fields Medal for Work in Comic Interpolation Theory" and The Book, respectively.

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Postby UmbrageOfSnow » Fri May 18, 2007 5:14 am UTC

This is great timing. I'm home-home (as opposed to school-home) for one of the very few weeks that I am all year. I was planning to go visit my high school math teacher tomorrow, who was sort of my mentor and easily the best teacher I ever had, a shame she retired. Anyway, I'm going to print this out in the morning and bring it to her. Maybe I should frame it...

And my guess to the book is "An Imaginary Tale: The story of (-1)^1/2 ."
That or "Asimov on Numbers".
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Postby Cowie » Fri May 18, 2007 5:15 am UTC

typo.
its fixed now.

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Postby 3.14159265... » Fri May 18, 2007 5:22 am UTC

I am becoming a math teacher
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Cameron Walsh
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a(bc) = (ab) + (ac)

Postby Cameron Walsh » Fri May 18, 2007 5:26 am UTC

a(bc) = a(b+c)
bc = b + c

works if:
a=0, b and c are anything (in which case we cannot divide by a).
b and c are zero, a is anything.
b and c are 2, a is anything.

EDIT:

Whoops, missed the post where Archgoon shows how it works for non-integer values of b and c.
Last edited by Cameron Walsh on Fri May 18, 2007 5:29 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby xkcd » Fri May 18, 2007 5:27 am UTC

Egg on my face! At least it was just the alt-text this time.

Come to think of it, I should do a comic with a similar error within the strip now -- it'd be a good way to gauge how many people read the alt-text, something I've always been curious about. It'd be a bit skewed because people computer-y enough to know to look for alt-text (instead of just finding by accident) might tend to also be math-y enough to notice the error.


YOUR TASK: Politicize the distributive property in 50 or fewer words!

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Postby The LuigiManiac » Fri May 18, 2007 5:29 am UTC

archgoon wrote:
The LuigiManiac wrote:Anyways, I say it isn't a universal truth. A universal truth is something like, say, a(b+c) = (ab) + (ac).


Not when a is a scalar and b and c are strings.

edit:cleanup.


That isn't universal. Thus, it can't be a universal truth. [s]W[/s]QED

Edit in Green
Spoiler:
THE CAKE IS A 3.141592653589...!

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Postby Woxor » Fri May 18, 2007 5:35 am UTC

xkcd wrote:YOUR TASK: Politicize the distributive property in 50 or fewer words!

The distributive property forces an ostensibly even distribution across any sum, which does not account for the needs of a given element, nor does it reward the elements that generate larger objects, thus creating no incentive for expansion. Furthermore, it promotes the agenda of an oppressive multiplicative dominance over addition.

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Postby archgoon » Fri May 18, 2007 5:41 am UTC

xkcd wrote:Egg on my face! At least it was just the alt-text this time.
YOUR TASK: Politicize the distributive property in 50 or fewer words!


As I already pointed out <b>YOU</b> have clearly demonstrated the overwhelming bias in our society towards commutative algebras. I stand by tall and firm for the recognition that a*(b+c)=a*b+a*c is NOT always true! And I gave an example that is for sure to be recognized by oppressed pythonistas!

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Postby archgoon » Fri May 18, 2007 5:43 am UTC

I DEMAND AN APOLOGY!

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Postby The LuigiManiac » Fri May 18, 2007 5:45 am UTC

...um...err...I'm sorry?
Spoiler:
THE CAKE IS A 3.141592653589...!

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Postby Gelsamel » Fri May 18, 2007 6:40 am UTC

Nothing can be proven universal, even math has it's axioms.

Sure, a(b+c) = (ab)+(ac) in our math systems, but it's based on axioms about multiplication and addition.

You could, in fact, set up a mathematical system where the above equation DOESN'T hold.
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Postby UmbrageOfSnow » Fri May 18, 2007 6:49 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Nothing can be proven universal, even math has it's axioms.

Sure, a(b+c) = (ab)+(ac) in our math systems, but it's based on axioms about multiplication and addition.

You could, in fact, set up a mathematical system where the above equation DOESN'T hold.


Yes Sir, Captain Godel.
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Postby skeptical scientist » Fri May 18, 2007 6:51 am UTC

I Image this comic.

SpitValve wrote:This comic reminds me that maths is awesome.

Or math, whatever.

Hah! I am teh winnar!

Woxor wrote:
xkcd wrote:YOUR TASK: Politicize the distributive property in 50 or fewer words!

The distributive property forces an ostensibly even distribution across any sum, which does not account for the needs of a given element, nor does it reward the elements that generate larger objects, thus creating no incentive for expansion. Furthermore, it promotes the agenda of an oppressive multiplicative dominance over addition.

This reads like something from timecube. They definitely like calling mathematical truths "evil wordgod allah worshipping lies propagated by educated stupid academian evildoers".
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Postby EradicateIV » Fri May 18, 2007 6:59 am UTC

Like every other math geek here, this comic made me smile

like this:

lim f(x)
x->

where f(x) = : - [ ) ]^x.


wahoo.
1010011010

Our truth is only as good as our assumptions.

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Postby apricity » Fri May 18, 2007 7:23 am UTC

Just admit it Randall, the blonde girl is Kira, isn't she?
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Postby OneLess » Fri May 18, 2007 7:49 am UTC

xkcd wrote:YOUR TASK: Politicize the distributive property in 50 or fewer words!

It's obviously a concerted attempt by liberal elitist mathematicians to foist communist rhetoric upon the masses. They'd rather children learn that numbers can be rearranged through distribution of multiplication than embrace the reality that it works much better when you let the invisible hand of the market arrange the operations!

Exactly fifty muahaha!

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Postby JoshuaZ » Fri May 18, 2007 7:53 am UTC

UmbrageOfSnow wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:Nothing can be proven universal, even math has it's axioms.

Sure, a(b+c) = (ab)+(ac) in our math systems, but it's based on axioms about multiplication and addition.

You could, in fact, set up a mathematical system where the above equation DOESN'T hold.


Yes Sir, Captain Godel.


This has nothing to do with Godel's theorem at all. The issue here is more philosophical in nature. If one is a formalist one would agree with the claim whereas if one is an intuitionist or some form of neo-platonist one would not. Part of the issue is whether addition and multiplication exist in any way part from and thus whether those renamed things can be legtimately called addition and multiplication. Incidentally, the typoed version of a(bc)=ab+ac is true iff a=0 or c=b/(b-1). It reminds of a nice short problem: when does addition distribute over multiplication?

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Postby EradicateIV » Fri May 18, 2007 8:09 am UTC

JoshuaZ wrote:It reminds of a nice short problem: when does addition distribute over multiplication?


Boolean algebras come to mind.
Which can be applied to logic, set theory, and ... stuff.
1010011010



Our truth is only as good as our assumptions.


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