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Assembly Language Step-by-Step: Programming with Linux®, Third Edition by Jeff Duntemann

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Chapter 2. Alien Bases

Getting Your Arms around Binary and Hexadecimal

The Return of the New Math Monster

The year was 1966. Perhaps you were there. New Math burst upon the grade school curricula of the nation, and homework became a turmoil of number lines, sets, and alternate bases. Middle-class parents scratched their heads with their children over questions like, "What is 17 in Base Five?" and "Which sets does the null set belong to?" In very short order (I recall a period of about two months), the whole thing was tossed in the trash as quickly as it had been concocted by addle-brained educrats with too little to do.

This was a pity, actually. What nobody seemed to realize at the time was that, granted, we were learning New Math—except that Old Math had never been taught at the grade-school level either. We kept wondering of what possible use it was to know the intersection of the set of squirrels and the set of mammals. The truth, of course, was that it was no use at all. Mathematics in America has always been taught as applied mathematics—arithmetic—heavy on the word problems. If it won't help you balance your checkbook or proportion a recipe, it ain't real math, man. Little or nothing of the logic of mathematics has ever made it into the elementary classroom, in part because elementary school in America has historically been a sort of trade school for everyday life. Getting the little beasts fundamentally literate is difficult enough. Trying to get them to appreciate the beauty ...

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