What exactly does ‘one’ mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What is the meaning of one? It’s a question that has occupied the minds of the greatest thinkers such as Philo of Alexandria, who believed that the numeral one was God’s number and so the basis of all other numbers.

Two millennia later, in the august surroundings of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, three judges in the Court of Appeal last week also deliberated on the meaning of one. They came to the conclusion that one does not necessarily mean one at all – because it can actually include anything greater than or equal to a half and less than one-and-a-half.

  • eMan14

    And the next great deliberation… is the number 0 homophobic?

  • BillyHW

    1 is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.

  • tom_billesley

    Transcendantals are real numbers that are oppressed.

    • Give them a parade.

    • FactsWillOut

      The majority of reals are transcendental, with cardinality aleph-1, while integers, rationals and algebraics have cardinality aleph-0.
      This is a case of vocal minorities quashing the majority.

  • tom_billesley

    The law has a history of mathematical intervention.
    A bill that would have effectively redefined pi as 3.2 came up before the Indiana legislature in 1897.

    • I never liked Pi, ruins every get together, it just goes on and on and on

      • Reader

        Did you ever talk to Euler about his number “e”. He just goes on and on and on and on…..

      • FactsWillOut

        At least Pi always has something original to say, unlike 1/3.

  • Spin. This is not about ‘one’ in a mathematical sense, but about conventional extensions of the term.

  • Xavier

    Just wait ’til they tackle two.
    Two can be as bad as one.

    • But they can eat as cheaply as one so there’s that.

  • glasnost

    This is much like the SCOTUS ruling on Obamacare. When does the phrase “established by the state” not mean what it says.

  • FactsWillOut

    ““To jump to that conclusion would, however, ignore the fact that figures, no less than words, may take their meaning from the context in which they are used,” he wrote in the final judgment.

    “A linguist may regard the word ‘one’ as meaning ‘one – no more and no less’. To those skilled in the art it may, however, in context, imply a range of values extending beyond the integer,” he explained.”

    ” To those skilled in the art…” What art would that be? The art of fabricating utter BS from the “whole” cloth?

    I think one bullet ought to do the trick.

  • DMB

    This is what they really mean. 2 + 2 = 5