Numerical Separators

With a base 10 place value number system, Britain and America use the period as the radix symbol, to separate integers and decimals, and use a comma to separate groups of digits; for example, they would write


Other Europeans such as the French, Italians, Spanish and Norwegians use the comma as a radix symbol and a period as a separator, so would write


Yet others like the Swedes and Finns use the comma as a radix symbol and use a small space as a separator, so would write

3 200 100,56

The Germans however would write

3 200.100,56

This can represent a problem for translation systems. For instance, internationally the following number is ambiguous


However, in all cases the underlying principle is that breaking long numbers, into groups of 3 or less digits, facilitates speed and accuracy when reading numbers.

The following earlier posts are relevant

About Graham Shawcross

Architect PhD student at Edinburgh University Interested in order, rhythm and pattern in Architectural Design
This entry was posted in Aperiodic Tiling, Architecture, Classification, Enumeration, Logic and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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