Template Talk:Numeral Systems
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Template Talk:Numeral Systems
WikiProject Numbers
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Archive of old discussions, including discussion of the terminology regarding Hindu-Arabic numerals.

## Recent changes

1) Someone seems to be using brackets to put 'Hindu' next to the Western Arabic family. This makes no sense so please stop unless you have good evidence and reason for doing so.

2) Someone has put brackets around Tamil. Again not sure why. Tamil like Thai, Burmese, has a system based on the Hindu-Arabic system, but also has its own system (see article). It is standalone, and there is no reason to put brackets around it because the same would apply to all systems (Thai, Burmese) under the Hindu-Arabic family. --90.215.129.236 (talk) 13:58, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

## Fictional numerals

Eequor has, in the process of moving this around and changing the table syntax, also added the fictional D'ni numerals. Is it really a good idea to include such a fictional numeral system with all the others? Lupo 09:37, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I agree that it shouldn't be in there. - Vague | Rant 02:49, Jan 23, 2005 (UTC)
Yup, it doesn't belong here. Michael Z. 2005-01-23 19:15 Z
Frankly, I was amused to find D'Ni there and it seems to fit in with a lot of Wikipedians' orientation towards Sci-Fi fiction, but I won't argue for it or against it other than to say I found it amusing.
But I did just add Binary, Octal, and Hexidecimal based on the facts that:
• They are real numeral systems, and
• The individual articles describes them as "numeral systems".
On these two bases, I think they "rate" inclusion here.
Atlant 21:11, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I've re-added D'ni numerals, but with a '(fictional)' disclaimer. Is that suitable? I just think that someone interested in numeral systems might be interested in ones created by folks, in addition to those created by civilizations.
If there are enough fictional numeral systems out there, we could create a new section in the template for them. How's that suit everyone?
SFT 15:21, July 28, 2005 (UTC)
I think it's okay to include D'ni numerals, but I'd probably segregate them into a new sub-box entitled "Fictional systems" or "Artificial systems" or some such.
Atlant 16:25, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

I recently removed the D'ni as SF cruft, but I was reverted and pointed to this talk. Obviously we all agree that it doesn't belong in the same list as others. More importantly, it simply is not a part of the same series of articles, which this box is supposed to be about. I'm removing it again. There are other ways to link to D'ni - there is Numeral system, category:Numeration, we can even have a list of numeral systems. Zocky 15:30, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I would be all for segregating it into a different section of the box, if it weren't the only fictitious numeral system we're dealing with. (A one-item list doesn't seem very sensible.) However, I don't agree that the box must contain only "real-life" systems. There is no reason to assume that people looking at this box would not be interested in unique numeral systems in fiction.
I agree that too many kB of popflock.com resource is taken up by the microscopic details of fiction franchises. I think the Myst articles themselves number about 500% too many. However, the numeral system is interesting and substantial enough to warrant its own article, and indeed to warrant the attention of passersby interested in numeral systems.
If you want to create a new section in the box for "Fictional systems" that contains (at this point) only D'ni, then that's fine. But I think it would be a disservice to folks interested in numeral systems to omit it completely. SFT 22:25, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
While it chokes me to have to say so, there are probably more people familiar with D'ni than with Babylonian numerals which we all agree should be on the list. DV8 2XL 22:33, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

I've contributed to many articles about works of fiction and components thereof, and even created templates linking such articles together. But I think that including the D'ni numerals article in what is presumably supposed to be a serious series of articles about numeral systems isn't a very good idea. This series of articles should cover important and influential systems of numerals throughout history, helping to link the articles to show their evolution and use of these systems. I am also against creating a separate section in the template for fictional numeral systems—they don't add to the value of these articles as a series. Not only are they artifical constructions, but they are essentially unused, except for the fiction they were created for. Having them in the template is equivalent to someone adding articles about speculative "future histories" to a series of history articles. I agree with Zocky, just make an all-inclusive List of numeral systems with all the real ones, and a separate section for fictional ones. While I'm completely fine with the article D'ni numerals existing in popflock.com resource as a whole, leave it out of this template. —siroχo 22:45, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Again, I see no reason why this template has to be limited to "important and influential" numeral systems. If someone comes to popflock.com resource and is interested in numeral systems, they may be just as interested in fictitious ones as they are in ones used by real civilizations. There are aspects of D'ni numerals that someone who's interested in numeral systems in general might find useful/interesting/what-have-you. SFT | Talk 07:10, 2 March 2006 (UTC)
I see what you mean, and for the most part agree, which is why D'ni numerals should be in a list if one is made, and in the category. However, I think the point of these side-bar type list templates is for creating series of articles, rather than all-inclusive lists of topics. I think the point of this one should be to offer some sort of history of numeral systems. This isn't any type of jab at the topic or article at hand, it's a good article about a fine topic. I'm just worried the template might end up becoming a list instead of a more useful sort of guide. (: —siroχo 10:33, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

## This template is very long

The usefulness of spelling out all those long words like "quadrosexagesimal" is questionable. If someone wants to know the fancy word for "Base 64" he can look at the article, right? It should be shortened with a table, like Template:Cyrillic alphabet navbox, and links to "2" "3" "4" "10" etc. Any thoughts? Ashibaka tock 03:38, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Perhaps even just a comma-separated list instead of a table. SFT | Talk 03:51, 2 January 2006 (UTC)
Agreed It makes a complete mess of the base N pages such as Hexadecimal moving all real content out of sight. Perhaps, it could be shortened to a link to a new page that contains its current contents and then some category statement. Karl Palmen 13:25, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Today I find that the template is shown on the right-hand side of the page (as usual?) and so its length is not such an important issue as it was yesterday. Karl Palmen 11:55, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
The above suggestion applies to older versions of the template. However, I still think the template is very long, more than a screen. What should we do about it? I tried making the first list semicolon separated instead of the narrow format; it looked rather ugly and was reverted. A possibility would be to divide the template into two, corresponding to the two sections of the present template. One focuses on the cultural history of numeral systems, the other on the mathematics of numeral systems (as it happens, all are positional systems, in the broad sense, including e.g unary). If you like this idea, what should we call those two templates? - By the way, the category "Positional numeral systems" might need to be renamed; it is not meant to include articles like Hindu-Arabic numerals (system) (in the cultural section) and Tally marks (that ought to be in the cultural section), though they deal with implementations of the Decimal resp. Unary numeral systems (that are in the mathematical section, and in that category). So a good name for the mathematical part of the template might inspire a good new name for the category.--Niels Ø 21:20, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
In addition to Tally marks, the template(s) ought to include the articles Bi-quinary coded decimal, Rod numerals (under Chinese), and Pentimal system (if that article is worth anything - it's too short even for a stub).--Niels Ø 21:35, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Much of the information could be moved to List of numeral system topics, which could then be linked from the template. Karl 15:50, 8 March 2006 UTC
Indeed it could, but having this table on each page is a nice user-friendly way of doing it, except for the fact that the table is too long. Can anyone figure out how to make the entries from Abjad to D'ni appear in two columns; making the table just a little bit wider, this would solve the problem (I think)? I've tried, but I don't understand wiki table pipes well enough.--Niels Ø 06:44, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

## Suggestion

I've just made it a bit worse, adding two more non-standard systems. Perhaps we should instead remove all the non-standard systems from the template, except for the link to Non-standard positional numeral systems? But I think at least Unary would still deserve a link of its own. Perhaps it a bit too much that we have: Three categories:

Four articles, including a list:

And a template:

Here's a suggestion: The categories are fine, the List of numeral system topics is redundant at can be deleted, the template should be divided into three (all of which should include links to the other two):

1. Template:Numeral systems in practical use (systems in real use outside of recent mathematics and computer science, most listed by culture)
2. Template:Standard positional numeral systems (listed by base)
3. Template:Non-standard positional numeral systems

E.g., Babylonian numerals and Tally marks would be listed on template 1, Sexagesimal on template 2, and Unary on template 3. If no objections appear here - or suggestions of better names for the templates - I'll probably split the template as indicated one of these days.--Niels Ø 06:55, 27 April 2006 (UTC) Having checked List of numeral system topics and Computer numbering formats, here's some links that might be added: Computer numbering formats; Gray code; Binary-coded decimal; Signed number representations; Two's complement; Radix; Radix point; Pentimal system; Bi-quinary coded decimal; Algorism; Goodstein's theorem; Myriad. I haven't figured out how to include all those.--Niels Ø 09:24, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

## Fixed (?)

The template was far too long anf too wide, I had to remove it elsewhere. And then (I hope) fixed, it's now in a "works for me" (non-CSS) state. Add CSS as you like, but please leave legacy align/width/colspan/etc. alone unless you can test the effect without CSS. For the suggestion above maybe adding a link to the relevant category is good enough, but on the other hands all affected pages should already be in this category, and there's a link to the list with more related topics. I've removed some esoteric stuff like base 11, anybody interested in such oddities will find them without this template. -- Omniplex 14:04, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

I've tweaked it a little, does it still work for you? --Ilmari Karonen (talk) 14:57, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

I'm very happy with the quite radical changes made to this template. One thing bothers me, though: The headings for the two parts are misleading. It says Numeral systems on top, which is fine, but then it says Positional systems at the bottom. Most of the systems mentioned in the first half are in fact positional systems. The divide is not between positional and non-positional; it is (or should be, in my opinion) between articles with focus on the cultural history of numeral systems (e.g. Babylonian numerals) and articles with focus on mathematics and computer science aspects (e.g. Sexagesimal). How do we fix this? I'm not so sure that I'll change it right away, but how about just changing the heading Positional systems into Positional systems by base? What I do not like 100% about this solution is that "by base" seems to suggest it's really the same links sorted in a different way, which is not quite the case, but I think it would be OK anyway.--Niels Ø 07:57, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

Thanks to user:75th Trombone for following up on this - it looks good to me now!--Niels Ø 08:17, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

## Use of template

As it now stands, without direct links to non-standard positional numeral systems, should we remove the template from those articles (e.g., Bijective numeration, Balanced ternary, etc.)? They will still be connected to the other articles through their categories.--Niels Ø 07:40, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

## Alphabetical order

Why aren't the various numerical systems placed into alphabetical order? Has there been a consensus against that? ktr (talk) 18:30, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

## Numbers as part of a language vs Numeral system

Do we include articles on numbers as part of a language in this template? if we do, we need to add Names of numbers in English. If we don't we need to remove Chinese, Korea, and Japanese articles as they do not cover numeral systems, but simple how numbers written/spoken in those languages/culture. --Voidvector (talk) 14:51, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

The template is rather over-stuffed already; I don't think including lingustics will make it better. (Possibly there could be one link to another page listing such articles, or a show/hide mechanism could be used.) Chinese numerals are symbols AND linguistics at the same time; excluding Chinese from this template clearly would be wrong. (I haven't checked up on Korean and Japanese.)--Noe (talk) 15:51, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
As for your argument of "symbols", the English numerals are symbols too, just because they are called "letters" instead of "ideograms/logogram" does not stop them from being symbols. Chinese numerals are in fact elements of the language just as English numerals are elements of the English language.
I would love it if you can create a definition that would definitively define the boundary for this template or numerals in general. The article for numeral system is very vague on this, it talks about "mathematical notation" and "symbols", the former being notations used in math/engineering/economy, both aspects English numerals would qualify. The definition of "numeral" according to wiktionary is "A word or symbol representing a number." --Voidvector (talk) 16:54, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Quote: I would love it if you can create a definition... well so would I. I'm not sure what the correct terminology would be. How about "graphemes" or something like that? There must be a way of distinguishing the sounds or letter combinations "fiftysix" (English) or "seksoghavltreds" (Danish) from "56" (Hindu-Arabic) or " " (Greek).
So, I agree there is some vagueness, but I don't think the solution is to let the template grow.--Noe (talk) 16:35, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

## Recent reordering of positional systems by IP user

In these edits, the links to the mathematical articles in the section on positional numeral system are reordered in a way I do not understand, and the link to Unary is moved to a section on cultural numeral systems. As Unary is a mathematical article rather than a cultural one, and as unary arguably belongs with the positional systems (see here), I think it should be moved back. So, unless the IP user behind these edits explains herself, I'll revert both edits.--Noe (talk) 18:47, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

The link to unary under "positional numbering systems" seems inappropriate as units can be randomly rearranged or shifted, adding a space, without changing the value and use of a radix point does not allow representation of non-integer values. It seems that a link to "non-standard positional numeral systems", which includes unary, would be more appropriate. I will try these changes. Bcharles (talk) 16:51, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Unary numeral system is NOT a positional notation. --StanContributor (talk) 22:42, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

## List of positional systems by base

Please see Category talk:Positional numeral systems#List of positional systems by base.-- (talk) 10:56, 24 October 2010 (UTC)

## "Unary numeral system" in "positional notation" block of template.

For those who don't understand that the unary numeral system is NOT a positional notation: please stop adding or moving it to respective block of template! --StanContributor (talk) 22:24, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

Currently, the top of the box says "Numeral systems by culture" in large font. Near the bottom there is a header in smaller font saying "Numeral systems by base". Clearly this is inappropriate: "by culture" and "by base" should be headers at the same level. Can someone fix this?-- (talk) 16:35, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

fixed. Frietjes (talk) 16:54, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

## Unary

Double sharp, what is it that makes unary a "non-standard" positional system? I personally don't see anything that would make it different from other standard systems. Mvpo666 (talk) 18:25, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

This is answered in Non-standard positional numeral systems#Base one (unary numeral system) - in a positional system, position is expected to affect the value of a digit; this is not the case for unary. I a standard positional system, each digit position may assume the value zero - again, this is not the case for unary. On the other hand, unary fits nicely into the group of bijective numeration systems, all of which (arguably with unary as an exception) are positional systems. Really, this is a compromise between editors who are convinced unary is NOT a positional, and editors who are convinced it is.-- (talk) 19:24, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
Okay, I see now, thanks for letting me know. But now I have another question: can't we add a subsection within the "positional systems by base" section, called "Non-standard positional systems" and include all the "nonstandard system" articles there? Mvpo666 (talk) 19:53, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
I've added a section for non-standard positional numeral systems, including more examples (including unary). Double sharp (talk) 11:21, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Yup, that's better. Thanks! Mvpo666 (talk) 15:41, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Frankly, I think this is overdoing it in this template - I'd like it to be shorter. For the record, I originated the article Non-standard positional numeral systems (as well as the neologism "Non-standard positional...) and I think I wrote more than half of it; I think it's interesting. But considering which articles use the Numeral systems template, I think listing the rather exotic non-standard systems in the template is giving them undue weight.-- (talk) 07:25, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
I dunno if most of them are undue weight: the bijectives are reasonably common, and so are mixed radices (which we even do today in today's sexagesimal notation for time, which is essentially alternating between base-6 and base-10 columns). Balanced ternary is common, and negative bases were already here. And the non-standard articles like golden ratio base and quater-imaginary base already used this template, so I personally think all of them are all right. Just my opinion, though. Double sharp (talk) 15:37, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
As I expected when specific examples of non-standard systems were recently added to the template, the list will grow, and grow, and grow, the someone will cut the most obscure ones away (according to that editor's taste), then it will grow again as various editors add their hobby horses, etc. I think the sensible and reasonably stable solution is to include the link to the article on non-standard systems, possibly link unary (and/or tally marks), and nothing else.-- (talk) 18:21, 6 May 2015 (UTC)

## Fixing the popup preview of articles using this box

Can anybody explain how to get an image into an article so that it somehow overrides the image from the navbox in the popup tooltip preview of the article. An alternative question is how to mark the navbox image so it is discouraged from being used (this could possibly be true for every navbox, not just this one).

What happens when you hover over "Arabic Numerals"

The problem I am trying to fix is the misleading result for hovering over arabic numerals. Due to cropping the image actually does not show them, and contributes to the continuous misconception that this term means "base 10" (rather than the correct meaning of the 10 glyphs that are very popular for writing numbers). There is an image on that page (shown here) that I would like it to choose instead.

Arabic numerals sans-serif

Spitzak (talk) 17:10, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

@Spitzak: It's fixed now.
After fix
The correct name for the feature which makes popup previews is Page Previews. That feature in turn uses a rather complicated heuristic embedded inside mw:Extension:PageImages. To wit, The best possible page image on Wikimedia wikis is one of the first four images in an article which has a width/height between 400-600px and a height/width which is twice the value of the other dimension.
Further down it states that Any images for which the ratio is less than 0.5 will score negatively and be discarded. So, long thin images, or tall thin images, are not allowed, with images around 0.5 being preferred. I uploaded a new image that fit all the criteria to score highly, File:Hindu-Arabic numerals.svg. I then replaced it in the article. But so that other editors would be unlikely to revert due to the larger margins of the new image, which while being not unpleasant to my eye, might in any event cause complaints, I took the extra step of using Template:CSS image crop to remove the margins when viewed by a human, but they are still visible to the computerized PageImagess extension and within the Page Preview itself. Psi?edelisto (talk) 01:39, 20 November 2018 (UTC)
By the way, that is the only way to fix this currently. Unfortunately you can't just simply mark an image as not to be put into a Page Preview, unless it's undocumented. Psi?edelisto (talk) 01:42, 20 November 2018 (UTC)

## Please make it into a navbar rather than a sidebar

This template should be a navbar at the bottom of articles, not a sidebar. Reasons:

• The top right corner of the article should have an interesting image related to the topic of that article. Instead this sidebar wastes that precious space with a picture of several other number system, that distracts the reader but adds nothing to the article it is in.
• Even if the sidebar is placed below a useful image, it still steals precious screen space from the head section and from the first section, which are usually the most important parts of the article and read by most readers. Wikipedia's frames, menus, and banners already waste 30-40% of the readers's screen space; the sidebar steals another 10-20% of what remains, on the initial screen that reader sees when he get to the article.
• A reader who gets to an article with a navigation sidebar may want to do many things next; but one thing he will surely not do is jump immediately to an article about another number system -- just because he saw its name (and no other info) listed on the sidebar. Therefore there is no reason to put those links to other number systems at the top of the article. They should be at the end of the article, like the "See Also section -- and for the same reasons.
• Any article belongs to several general topics. For example, the article on Etruscan numerals is not just in the topic "number systems", but also in "history of Italy", "history of the Mediterranean", "history of mathematics", "Etruscans", etc. Clearly it is not viable for the article to have a navigation sidebar for each of those topics. So -- for the sake of consistency, fairness, and peace among editors -- there should be no navigation sidebars at all. (Multiple navbars at the bottom of the article, on the other hand, can coexist without much inconvenience.)
• In fact, it is very unlikely that a reader will use the sidebar (or even a navbar) for anything. The typical readers is much more likely to leave the article either by clicking to a link in the text (which, most likely, will not be an article on another number system); or by clicking the back button.
• Even readers who are interested in number systems in general should, and probably will, go to the article on that general topic, which should have an organized and annotated list of links; and use those links to get to specific number systems. (Since all browsers have tabs, he can keep that article open while he reads those other articles; thus getting all the possible benefits of a sidebar, minus the inconvenients.)

In fact, the time and energy spent creating, maintaining, and inserting a navigation sidebar like this one is worse than wasted. That effort should be better spent on writing or improving the number system article.
All the best, --Jorge Stolfi (talk) 09:20, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

## Wording change request

Back in 2014 (with this edit), "Other historical systems" was changed to "Former", and I feel this should be changed back to simply "Historical systems". I came to notice this due to the inclusion of Kaktovik Inupiaq numerals (Inuit) in this list. While the Inupiat have used base 20 for ages, the written numeral system was invented in 1994 (and since refined) and has entered wide use within the community. -- Huntster (t @ c) 11:51, 23 June 2020 (UTC)

--Akrasia25 (talk) 13:18, 19 August 2020 (UTC)