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 05-24-2012, 03:36 PM #1 rob.rice Member   Registered: Apr 2004 Distribution: slack what ever Posts: 796 Rep: RANT warning times is more Not less how on earth did the phrase " something times {smaller less }" ever get started multiplication is always bigger or more NEVER smaller or less it pisses me off to see or hear this oxymoron have tech writers gone brain dead or something ?
 05-24-2012, 03:46 PM #2 craigevil Senior Member   Registered: Apr 2005 Location: OZ Distribution: Debian Sid Posts: 4,734 Blog Entries: 12 Rep: 100x.5=50 less 100x0=0 less
05-24-2012, 04:31 PM   #3
dugan
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 multiplication is always bigger or more NEVER smaller or less
Did you write this before drinking your coffee or something?

Multiplying by a number between 0 and 1 gives you a number with a smaller absolute value.

Last edited by dugan; 05-24-2012 at 04:39 PM.

 05-25-2012, 06:06 PM #4 rob.rice Member   Registered: Apr 2004 Distribution: slack what ever Posts: 796 Original Poster Rep: OK lets see the math on "10,000 times smaller" not the math on 0.0001 times smaller but 10,000 times smaller Last edited by rob.rice; 05-25-2012 at 06:11 PM.
 05-25-2012, 06:19 PM #5 TobiSGD Moderator   Registered: Dec 2009 Location: Hanover, Germany Distribution: Main: Gentoo Others: What fits the task Posts: 15,653 Blog Entries: 2 Rep: Is that not a valid statement in English? In German it is valid to say "10000 mal kleiner", which is a direct translation of "10000 times smaller". Last edited by TobiSGD; 05-25-2012 at 07:28 PM.
 05-25-2012, 07:23 PM #6 jschiwal Guru   Registered: Aug 2001 Location: Fargo, ND Distribution: SuSE AMD64 Posts: 15,733 Rep: What would you say instead of "17 times smaller"?
 05-25-2012, 08:25 PM #7 jlinkels Senior Member   Registered: Oct 2003 Location: Bonaire Distribution: Debian Wheezy/Jessie/Sid, Linux Mint DE Posts: 4,244 Rep: duh! 17 is a prime and 1/17 is non-terminiating and cyclic. jlinkels
05-25-2012, 08:28 PM   #8
rob.rice
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 Originally Posted by TobiSGD Is that not a valid statement in English? In German it is valid to say "10000 mal kleiner", which is a direct translation of "10000 times smaller".
wrong it's not a valid statement it's an oxymoron
if you think it's a valid statement prove it by showing us the math
but it is found all over the place used by tech writers all the time of late

Last edited by rob.rice; 05-25-2012 at 08:33 PM.

05-25-2012, 08:42 PM   #9
rob.rice
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 Originally Posted by jschiwal What would you say instead of "17 times smaller"?
1 17th the size of

05-25-2012, 09:25 PM   #10
TobiSGD
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 Originally Posted by rob.rice if you think it's a valid statement prove it by showing us the math
I think exactly here lies your problem. You are mixing up language and math. In math that statement is invalid, but that doesn't have to mean that it has to be invalid in human language. The only languages that have to be mathematically correct are the language of math itself and programming languages. Human languages don't have to, they can be vague, imprecise and sometimes mathematically incorrect.

05-25-2012, 09:37 PM   #11
rob.rice
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 Originally Posted by TobiSGD I think exactly here lies your problem. You are mixing up language and math. In math that statement is invalid, but that doesn't have to mean that it has to be invalid in human language. The only languages that have to be mathematically correct are the language of math itself and programming languages. Human languages don't have to, they can be vague, imprecise and sometimes mathematically incorrect.
any statement that is self contradicting is an oxymoron and as such is not a valid statement
to say that something is "'some whole number times' smaller" is a contradiction

05-25-2012, 10:19 PM   #12
TobiSGD
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I find this rather interesting, although I see nothing wrong in saying five times smaller. Surprisingly, this is not a thing started "by tech writers ... of late", but is more than 200 years old. David Hume, History of England:
Quote:
 Yet the middling price of cattle, so late as the reign of king Richard, we find to be above eight, near ten times lower than the present.
And more than that, it is not just some simple tech writers, this can also be found in press releases for Nobel prize winners:
Quote:
 Phillips found in 1988 that a temperature as low as 40ľK could be attained. This value was six times lower than the theoretically calculated Doppler limit!
I got 1,620,000 results on Google for the search term "times smaller" alone, I have not tried "times lower", "times less" and so on. So actually it is an old phenomenon, that is wide-spread in society. Human language, in opposite to math, is (de)formed by society over time, not necessarily in ways that have to follow logic or math. So from my view, the term 5 times smaller can be correct in human language, despite it is not in math.

Basically you have three possibilities to deal with this:
- Adapt yourself to the change in language and get over it.
- Keep your opinion about the topic, but ignore it when you see it.
- Keep your opinion about the topic and write an email to all writers that do this with the request to correct it.

Choose one. I take the first.

Last edited by TobiSGD; 05-25-2012 at 10:21 PM.

 05-25-2012, 10:50 PM #13 frankbell Guru Contributing Member   Registered: Jan 2006 Location: Virginia, USA Distribution: Slackware, Mageia, Mint Posts: 8,254 Rep: If I have a 50x telescope and look at it through the wrong end, does it make everything 50x smaller? It's all in how you look at it. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
05-26-2012, 01:44 AM   #14
dugan
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 Originally Posted by rob.rice if you think it's a valid statement prove it by showing us the math
Dude, seriously?

x * 1/1000. X times the reciprocal of 1000. The result is 1000 times smaller than X.

Last edited by dugan; 05-26-2012 at 01:29 PM.

 05-26-2012, 04:26 AM #15 pixellany LQ Veteran   Registered: Nov 2005 Location: Annapolis, MD Distribution: Arch/XFCE Posts: 17,802 Rep: hmmmm---slow news day??? As stated, it is quite proper in our language to say "one thousand times smaller". It's also proper usage in the math or physics classroom---used synonymously with terms like "3 orders of magnitude smaller"