laziness, impatience, and hubris  
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Re (tilly) 3: More Fun with Zero!by tilly (Archbishop) 
on Jul 23, 2001 at 17:30 UTC ( #99004=note: print w/ replies, xml )  Need Help?? 
However there is a valid question over what we should get back from a computer when we calculate 0^{0}. If we are thinking in terms of doing an exact calculation, then there is no question, there is an answer we should give and that answer is 1. But if we are thinking in terms of floating point math, then what the computer should be designed in terms of is, I have a number close to 0 raised to the power of another number close to 0 and I need to give back something that I know is close to the answer. In that case the computer should give up because the real answer might be anywhere between 0 and 1 inclusive. Therefore of his examples, all of the answers make sense. The two products which are designed to be working with floating point extensively (ie Excel and his calculators) think in terms of roundoff error and decide that they cannot give a reasonable answer. The remaining products are all programming tools, dealing with integers, and are assuming for one reason or another that they are dealing with an exact integer calculation. So all of them give back the answer 1. (OK, I admit it, probably the calculators and Excel were designed by people who remembered that 0^{0} was an indeterminate form but have no idea what that really means. But there are calculational contexts in which failing to give an answer in that case makes sense.)
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