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Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero

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Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by Silverwall   » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:52 am

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Reading recently about the history of mathematics I realised that probably the most destructive thing Langhorn did to Safehold was his removing zero from the world.

We know that safehold did not have the modern zero concept as they were using roman style numerals and had no abacusus. Modern positional notation (As reinvented by Merlin) absolutely requires the concept of zero to work so without it Safehold was really really screwed. However it is likely that the idea of zero between the positive and negative numbers would have been debated by scholars. If Langhorn knew enough to remove the Arabic numerals he surely would have made sure that the whole concept of Zero was wiped from Safehold as part of his anti-science crusade.

I then talked to a Math professor I know and their opinion was that without Zero your ability to do even basic algebra is badly degraded, especially when combined with roman numerals and Calculus is straight out undoable. Other tasks such as balistics calulations would require herculean efforts and be effectivly undoable in practical terms. He pointed out that without a concept of zero the ancient egyptians could not work out the volume of a pyramid even if they could work out the volume of a cube.

Just how badly would this have degraded the ability of safehold to advance? The modern world requires zero. I also wonder if Euclids mathematical rigor approach survived or if it too was crushed in the name of anti-science.
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by Charybdis   » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:01 am

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Silverwall wrote:Reading recently about the history of mathematics I realised that probably the most destructive thing Langhorn did to Safehold was his removing zero from the world.

We know that safehold did not have the modern zero concept as they were using roman style numerals and had no abacusus. Modern positional notation (As reinvented by Merlin) absolutely requires the concept of zero to work so without it Safehold was really really screwed. However it is likely that the idea of zero between the positive and negative numbers would have been debated by scholars. If Langhorn knew enough to remove the Arabic numerals he surely would have made sure that the whole concept of Zero was wiped from Safehold as part of his anti-science crusade.

I then talked to a Math professor I know and their opinion was that without Zero your ability to do even basic algebra is badly degraded, especially when combined with roman numerals and Calculus is straight out undoable. Other tasks such as balistics calulations would require herculean efforts and be effectivly undoable in practical terms. He pointed out that without a concept of zero the ancient egyptians could not work out the volume of a pyramid even if they could work out the volume of a cube.

Just how badly would this have degraded the ability of safehold to advance? The modern world requires zero. I also wonder if Euclids mathematical rigor approach survived or if it too was crushed in the name of anti-science.

VERY GOOD POINT! I wonder if it was known (use of '0') in Alexandria? That could be a factor in the overwhelming destruction done there. Adds a bit to the conundrum of what the Knowles and other 'recovered memory' survivors would do if this bit of knowledge was included. The ability to resist using it over the Roman Numerals would have been a real strain and with the still active Langhorne agents, a real danger!
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What say you, my peers?
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by phillies   » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:17 pm

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Charybdis wrote:
Silverwall wrote:Reading recently about the history of mathematics I realised that probably the most destructive thing Langhorn did to Safehold was his removing zero from the world.

We know that safehold did not have the modern zero concept as they were using roman style numerals and had no abacusus. Modern positional notation (As reinvented by Merlin) absolutely requires the concept of zero to work so without it Safehold was really really screwed. However it is likely that the idea of zero between the positive and negative numbers would have been debated by scholars. If Langhorn knew enough to remove the Arabic numerals he surely would have made sure that the whole concept of Zero was wiped from Safehold as part of his anti-science crusade.

I then talked to a Math professor I know and their opinion was that without Zero your ability to do even basic algebra is badly degraded, especially when combined with roman numerals and Calculus is straight out undoable. Other tasks such as balistics calulations would require herculean efforts and be effectivly undoable in practical terms. He pointed out that without a concept of zero the ancient egyptians could not work out the volume of a pyramid even if they could work out the volume of a cube.

Just how badly would this have degraded the ability of safehold to advance? The modern world requires zero. I also wonder if Euclids mathematical rigor approach survived or if it too was crushed in the name of anti-science.

VERY GOOD POINT! I wonder if it was known (use of '0') in Alexandria? That could be a factor in the overwhelming destruction done there. Adds a bit to the conundrum of what the Knowles and other 'recovered memory' survivors would do if this bit of knowledge was included. The ability to resist using it over the Roman Numerals would have been a real strain and with the still active Langhorne agents, a real danger!


Having suppressed zero, Langhorne might also have suppressed negative numbers. There are years before and eyars after, and these are both positive numbers. If math is revealed by the archangels, there are no rpoofs. The Pythagorean theorem is true because God said so.
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by evilauthor   » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:16 pm

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I dunno. While Langhorne might have removed zero as a mathematical concept, people still needed to have the concept for "nothing" as an everyday thing. "I have no food!" "I have no gold!" etc etc.

And people still needed to SAY numbers and count large numbers of things, and they still spoke a form English. One through nine are still one through nine. Ten through nineteen are as unintuitive as Langhorne could ask for. But twenty and beyond?

"Twenty" "Twenty one" "Twenty Two"... "One hundred and thirty five" "Fifty two hundred and ninety six"

Everything past twenty? The VERBAL rules for speaking such numbers is straight up pure decimal positional notation. The only thing Merlin introduced was a symbol system that translated those verbal rules into something you could read.

And by the time Merlin first shows up, Safeholdians were routinely counting well past twenty.

In short, I don't think the introduction of Arabic numerals was as nearly a big leap as the OP seems to think it is. It is a big leap, but all the groundwork to understand it was already laid in the English language handed down from the Archangels and the Safeholdians own experience.

Also, we're never told that Merlin officially introduced negative numbers. The introduction of those were likely made as a "discovery" by the Charis university after its head was taken into the Inner Circle. He had already been working out new math before that happened and discovering new meaning in random phrases that the Archangels had said.
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by Silverwall   » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:58 pm

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evilauthor wrote:Stuff on basic counting


I really hope that was sarcasam I missed.

Otherwise sorry but if you read ANY history of maths you will see that modern Zero in the sense I am talking about is critical to advancement.

Zero is literally the most important number in all of maths and the second place number Pi is trailing behind massivly.

I suggest starting with things like these

https://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog ... important/

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/ ... -explained

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/0

https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/en ... imitations
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by Fireflair   » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:26 am

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I'm not sure that zero, as a concept, has been removed mostly because there is discussion on the use of pumps and other engineering concepts. Building good pumps, designing any structure, requires a reasonable knowledge of engineering.
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by Silverwall   » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:32 am

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Fireflair wrote:I'm not sure that zero, as a concept, has been removed mostly because there is discussion on the use of pumps and other engineering concepts. Building good pumps, designing any structure, requires a reasonable knowledge of engineering.


Basic engineering is very doable without zero, as proved by the Egyptians, Chinese, Aztecs, Greeks and Romans. Pumps are also an area where following a divine recipie will work well enough.

Where a lack of zero hurts is in developing theories about WHY things work and the way the world is put together. It is critical to Calculus, statistics, Decimal fractions etc etc etc.

The lack of mathematical foundations was even called out in a scene between Merlin and the then prince where he was able to do advanced math is a fraction of the time even a well educated man was able to using the Roman style number system
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by evilauthor   » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:21 am

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Silverwall wrote:Basic engineering is very doable without zero, as proved by the Egyptians, Chinese, Aztecs, Greeks and Romans. Pumps are also an area where following a divine recipie will work well enough.

Where a lack of zero hurts is in developing theories about WHY things work and the way the world is put together. It is critical to Calculus, statistics, Decimal fractions etc etc etc.

The lack of mathematical foundations was even called out in a scene between Merlin and the then prince where he was able to do advanced math is a fraction of the time even a well educated man was able to using the Roman style number system


An Arabic numerals caught on like wildfire - zero included - and even gets used by the Church at the height of the Jihad. That's one of things that suggest to me that all the basic concepts for the Arabic numeral system (zero included) were already floating around Safehold cultures and Merlin's introduction of Arabic numerals just put them all together in an easy to understand manner.
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by Silverwall   » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:50 am

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evilauthor wrote:
Silverwall wrote:Basic engineering is very doable without zero, as proved by the Egyptians, Chinese, Aztecs, Greeks and Romans. Pumps are also an area where following a divine recipie will work well enough.

Where a lack of zero hurts is in developing theories about WHY things work and the way the world is put together. It is critical to Calculus, statistics, Decimal fractions etc etc etc.

The lack of mathematical foundations was even called out in a scene between Merlin and the then prince where he was able to do advanced math is a fraction of the time even a well educated man was able to using the Roman style number system


An Arabic numerals caught on like wildfire - zero included - and even gets used by the Church at the height of the Jihad. That's one of things that suggest to me that all the basic concepts for the Arabic numeral system (zero included) were already floating around Safehold cultures and Merlin's introduction of Arabic numerals just put them all together in an easy to understand manner.


Possibly, I put it down to RFC wanting to tell a story in a shortened length of time as everything from army travel times and R and D times are accelerated massivly between 2 and 10 times earth historical norms. This is standard accross almost all authors writing this style of story and is considered normal artistic licence in the interest of telling a good story. A classic example of this story driven time compression is the fact that the King Harald pre-dreadnoughts go through the design and building process in a FASTER time frame than even the Royal Navy or USN managed in the 1890s. Less industrially advanced countries such as France and Italy who were famous for taking ages to build such ships (close to a decade!)

Given that on earth it took 300+ years for Europe to adopt arabic numerals and zero from Islam because of pride, Religious issues and the slow rate of knowledge distribution the COGA "Should" be very slow in adopting such heretical knowledge but again this would hamstring them far to much and hurt the story RFC is telling.

On earth it took nearly 3000 years from ancient Bablyon and the concept of placehold number systems to the full concept of zero. Also I am not sure how the modern concept of zero can even make sense in a number system that has no concept of number place and is working in MMMCCXXXIX style numbers. There would be a concept of Zero as in "Don't have stuff" but not zero in the modern sense. Talk to any teacher and it's a damn hard concept for children to understand even today. See above for the questions of wheather they even understand negative numbers
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Re: Langhorns deadliest blow - Killing Zero
Post by Randomiser   » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:38 pm

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I see the argument about the concept of zero. Negative numbers however are less likely to have been lost. Any banker making loans or any merchant giving credit has an entirely functional grasp of negative numbers or something very like them in order to keep track of business. There were certainly plenty of both on Safehold well before Merlin.
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