Saturday, September 18, 2010


So, Bill and I met this afternoon and, if he remembers, I’ll let him tell you how we got to this question.

Bill says that 3 times .33 equals one because of infinity. I say it is less than one given that my mathematical skill peaked prior to my voice changing.

Bill drew math stuff on a piece of paper, I’ll let him chime in about it; but, they had to do with 1/3 equaling .33 given that infinity thing.

To my mind, 3 times 33 is 99 which is not a hundred. To my mind, fractions are spatial. You take a whole and divide it into whatever parts you want; but, if you divide it by three, each third isn’t .33 it is one of three even parts of a hundred, whatever that works out to be, to me, there being no mathematical equivalent - it’s the dots that get you, you never get to 100 if you use decimals.

Then we talked about 3.17 but that got us nowhere.

I know Bill’s right because I know that he understands numbers and I’m relegated to words. Intelligence, using words, not math, in the comments is welcome.


Thomas said...

The problem comes from converting stuff to base 10 when it doesn't really belong there.

If you visualize a third plus a third plus a third equaling one, it makes more sense.

Dave said...

That's my point Thomas, Bill says I'm wrong - .33... x 3 = 1.

Dave said...

3.17 should be 3.14, pi.

fermicat said...

Your two physicist friends say you are correct.

.33 x 3 = .99

1/3 = .3333333333333333333333333333333333333333333333(with threes going on to infinity)

And don't get us started on pi, which I know to five decimals and PDM knows to seven.

Wes said...

I can't find it right now, but a discussion on this very topic took place on a Libertarian/Objectivist message board.

It lasted for five years.

Stuff like that is why I find it impossible to take Libertarians/Objectivists/Hayekheads/Randroids seriously in any aspect of life.


Bill the Engineer said...

I never said 1/3 = 0.33, I said 1/3 = .333333.... (to infinity).
It started with my statement that 0.99999...(to infinity) = 1.
My proof is since 3 X 1/3 = 1 and 3 X 0.33333...(to infinity) = 0.99999...(to infinity) then 1 = 0.99999....(to infinity).

With a pencil I wrote .999 with a bar over the last 9 which is a mathematical representation of infinity. Maybe that was the confusion.

fermicat said...

The bar over the last number is key that was missing from your post (the 'infinity' thing didn't make sense otherwise). Yes, 0.3 with a bar over the three is 1/3 because there are an infinite number of threes behind the decimal.

Dave said...

I have no clue. Engineers, physicists and music professors, have at it. I'm sticking with Thomas.

Further, if you have repeating numbers, be they pi or be they, just less than a third of a whole number, they never get to where they are going. This is why I'm not a physicist, engineer, or any more, a sixth grade teacher.

I got a dollar says that Sarah Palin agees with me, if I word the question correctly, so as to make it a social issue.

Bill the Engineer said...

Now the cobwebs are clearing from college. I was mis-using the term "to infinity" when what I was thinking was an infinite number of 3s. Too bad a computer keyboard can't type .3 with a bar over it.

Dave said...

So, who's on first? I am still totally unconvinced.

Bill the Engineer said...

Well, forget about 1 = 0.999... If you can't accept that 0.333.. with an infinite number of 3s after the decimal point is a decimal representation of the fraction, 1/3; I don't know what to say to convince you.

Dave said...

OK, another career I can't have.