Thursday, December 07, 2006

Division by zero hoax

James Anderson is perpetrating an elaborate hoax, claiming to have finally "solved" the issue of division by zero in the real numbers. The BBC is apparently unaware that this is a joke.

As so many others who have tried to "solve" division by zero have found out in the past, issue here, of course, is not that one can't divide by zero; you can modify the axioms of the real line and define division by zero in any way you want. The issue is that changing these axioms makes the real line no longer satisfy the axioms of a ring, and so much of algebra and topology can no longer apply. Of course one is free to invent their own ring theory and topology, but why bother? A century of research into abstract algebra will no longer hold, and it is not clear what good such a number system is.

All in all, James does a great job of parodying how out of touch with reality computer science professors really are. The paper is written in Microsoft Word, not LaTeX -- check out the unreadable notation and poor formatting, its hilarious.


Dr_Plankenstein said...

Division by zero is absurd, but triviality is quite useful.

It can be used to explain continuity of physical space time.

There are 3 existential types, not just 2.

1) That which exists.
2) That which does not exist.
3) That for which existence is indeterminate.

Any trivial is of the third type because “The Existence of a Trivial is Indeterminate”.

This last statement can be proved quite easily. It says that given any unique object, there is no way to determine if the object is really itself, or if it is in fact a trivial clone of itself. This is indeterminate.

One can exploit this existential indeterminacy of the trivials to make all kinds of unusual models.

If you want to create trivials, just violate uniqueness. But division by zero ? I dont think that this will ever work.


Ray Cromwell said...

Is it a hoax parody,or a deliberate investment scam like all of those miracle lossless compression scamsters?

I read it thinking it was a Sokal-like hoax, but looking at the back story, the guy seems to be trying to get investors to fork over cash to build "Transreal" computer hardware.

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