new life form for Latin?

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Sat May 11 18:03:04 UTC 2002

In a message dated 05/10/2002 3:41:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
AHami93942 at AOL.COM writes:

> I don't want to suggest that Latin lives again, but I came across a phrase
> that surprised me. Generally I think of Latin changing only lexically, and
> then only by the addition of terms of classification.  Just today, a friend
> of mine who is a biochemist showed me the following quote from a scientific
> paper: "We have recently been able to identify both _in silico_...
> Any similar experiences?

The Brazilian mathematician Carlos César de Araújo, on the Web site
"Earliest Known Uses of Some of the Words of Mathematics"

writes regarding the word "modulo" (ablative of Latin "modulus", now ISV):
<begin quote>
besides its use as a technical term, modulo is being widely used by
mathematicians in a related charming sense as a slang expression.

"The following proof is self-contained modulo the standard material on
operators and inner-product spaces."

"He called them continuous functionals. It was clear that modulo unimportant
differences these two classes of functionals were equivalent."

"Turing's work showed that, modulo a universal Turing machine, hardware and
software are interchangeable."

In all these examples, "modulo" can be replaced by "taking for granted" or
else "except for". [César de Araújo] has not found any explicit discussion of
this usage in print, modulo a short passage in Gregory Chaitin's homepage,
where he says:

"there are papers published by number theorists which are, mathematicians
say, "modulo the Riemann hypothesis." That is to say, they're taking the
Riemann hypothesis as an axiom, but instead of calling it a new axiom they're
calling it a hypothesis."
<end quote>

        -- Jim Landau

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