Nullity Is a Nonsense Number

MarkCC is unimpressed with nullity:

What good is it? Well, the crank behind it claims two things:

1. That currently, dividing by zero on a computer causes problems because division by zero is undefined. But if computers adopted nullity, then division by zero errors could be gotten rid of, because they’ll produce nullity. Except of course that modern floating point hardware already does have a NaN value, and it doesn’t help with the kind of problem he’s talking about! Because the result is not a number; whether you call it undefined, or you define it as a value that’s outside the set of real numbers, it doesn’t help – because the calculation you’re performing can’t produce a meaningful result. He says if your pacemaker’s software divides by zero, you’ll die, because it will stop working; how will returning nullity instead of signalling a divide by zero error make it work?

2. That it provides a well-defined value for 00, which he claims is a 1200 year old problem. Except that again, it’s not a problem. It’s a meaningless expression. If you’re raising 0 to the 0th power in a calculation, then something’s wrong with that calculation. Modifying basic math so that the answer is defined as NaN doesn’t help that.

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