Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How about a new number system?

I came across an interesting project today on the web called "Octomatics", which begins by questioning the decimal system and posing the following question in turn "how many numbers are the optimum, 8, 10, 12, 16..?". The project's father, Carsten Waldeck, a teacher of media system design at Darmstadt University, believes it's either 8 or 12. If we make it 8 he says we will be able to read and work with binary code without any transformation. He thinks the numbers should look more technically like letters, something like this:
What would the binary code then be?
it should be: 000 . 001 . 010 . 011 . 100 . 101 . 110 . 111
Waldeck says the really good thing about the octomatics-number-system is that you can calculate visually, just add or remove the strokes, like this:

For multiplication we still need to memorize the multiplication-table...but it is a much smaller and easier one than the decimal.

So let's forget what we know about hours, days and weeks, just leave natural time measurements (day: earth turns round 1 time, month: moon period, year: summer + winter) and we could end up like this: one day has 8 units:

Octomatics I think are a really cool example to show what can be done with simple visual concepts and alternative thinking. Not that the decimal will be replaced any time soon of course. You can visit Waldeck's site, Infoverse, which has a few more of his research projects (all images posted here are from his site).


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