Science: Mathematics
Hwaan - the indeterminate   (+17, -3)  [vote for, against]
A mathematical "I'm not sure"

A new digit to cover quantities that are unknown and unknowable. As distinct from variables which are often unknown but usually calculable, Hwaan is defined as not being calculable. A variable which when resolved turns out to have no solution is defined as Hwaan (denoted "?"). Hwaan is a rational number (unlike it's imaginary counterpart ?+i?)and cannot be infinite but of course cannot be positioned anywhere definite within the domain of rational numbers (at least infinity has the decency to go right to one end). Can make even more of a mess of your equations than infinity, but at least it allows you resolve insoluble equations as "equal to Hwaan".
-- wagster, Oct 18 2004

Yes, we were all being a bit silly that day... [prufrax, Oct 20 2004]

(?) Chao-chou's Dog http://www.io.com/~snewton/zen/mu.html
I think that 'Mu' is Mandarin... or Cantonese. Er.... one or the other. [st3f, Oct 20 2004]

Hwaan is how a 40 a day Glaswegian says "one". This mathematical confusion will doubtless lead to chibbings.
-- calum, Oct 18 2004

[wags], sounds like "hwaan" is subjective. You would find Hwaan at the end of each of my checkbook registers. You would find Hwaan scribbled in my mileage chart for "Next Oilchange Due." Hwaan would be in the "Tip" line for every bar tab or restaurant check I've ever had.

I think I like Hwaan. After all, a 'Known' total plus a 'Hwaan' tip = !<'Known total' at any bar. [+]
-- contracts, Oct 18 2004

Could it also be written Juan?
-- zen_tom, Oct 18 2004

As used by musicians through the ages. "And Hwaan, two, three, four..."

When I first saw the title, I thought it might refer to a minor Hindu deity. Or an ancient king, in the mode of Ethelred the Unready.
-- lostdog, Oct 18 2004

Maybe "Juaan" for the hispanic world would preserve the feel better.

[contracts] - rather than reduce your final bill, a tip of Hwaan would render the bill meaningless in real terms as it would be by definition incalculable. This may or may not be a good thing, depending on how skilled your bartender is at arguing metaphysics. Or fighting.
-- wagster, Oct 18 2004

More fool me. I suppose Hwaan the Indeterminate is never going to get it together enough to attract a stable band of followers.
-- lostdog, Oct 18 2004

[lostdog] Sure he would...we'll just never know how big his armies could be...
-- shapu, Oct 18 2004

i think the japanese have a term'mu'which means neither yes nor no. it doesn't mean maybe. it means the question is wrong.
-- not_only_but_also, Oct 18 2004

"Has the dog Buddha nature or not?"
Chao-chou said,
"Mu!"

-- zen_tom, Oct 19 2004

I thought that joke went :
What noise does a cat make as it slips off a roof?

Muuuuuuuuuuuu.
-- neilp, Oct 19 2004

This reminds me of a rather silly day long ago in Aberystwyth, leading to the writing of a joke 'paper' on indeterminate maths. See link.
-- prufrax, Oct 20 2004

[not_only_but_also] I speak Japanese and have never heard that expression. Is it perhaps a regional dialect? It could be a confusion of the sound 'n' or 'nn' (trust me, there's a difference) that has the same effect? The only mus I know mean 'without embelishment' (sort of) or six.
-- harderthanjesus, Oct 20 2004

I think [n_o_b_a] is interpreting Mu, or perhaps has heard an interpretation, based on a rationalisation of the Mu koan.
-- zen_tom, Oct 20 2004

If there isn't a reponse that //means neither yes nor no. it doesn't mean maybe. it means the question is wrong.// then it must be created immediately. I know there isn't one in English, but I could probably use it several times a day, usually as a replacement for "It depends what you mean by that..."

May I humbly suggest the word "Eoi" (pronounced ee-oy). It isn't doing much else right now.
-- wagster, Oct 20 2004

Agreed, I've been switching between 'erm...' and 'well...', in my attempts to convey this meaning, with no more than a minimum of success. Eoi might just do it.
-- zen_tom, Oct 20 2004

Although, since this is English we're talking about, it should probably be spelt 'eiough' or something.
-- harderthanjesus, Oct 21 2004

<Seagoon>Major Bloodnok! Put down that cat at once!<Seagoon>

I use "Wha' ?"
-- egbert, Oct 21 2004

On a related note, we need an indeterminate pronoun for english, how about "hir" pronounced like "hear", a mixture of her, his, him, it, your, I
-- JesusHChrist, Mar 27 2005

[zen_tom]... so this dog was a cow, was it?
-- moomintroll, Mar 27 2005

Sorry to whoever just wrote that interesting last anno about null values, I hit [delete] instead of [annotate]. Oops.
-- wagster, Mar 27 2005

I use bof!, generally to indicate that the question might have a useful answer, but I don't believe I want to find it.
-- david_scothern, Mar 28 2005

Hwaan sounds somewhat similar to the uncertainty principle:

If the position is 1+/- 0, then the momentum is Hwaan? +/- infinity.
-- quantum_flux, Sep 28 2007

How is this different from a free variable?
-- Cuit_au_Four, Oct 02 2007

Free variables are unknown but can be later substituted for bound variables. Hwaan has been shown to be unknowable.

Then again, I got a 'D' in my A-level maths, so I may be talking out of my hole here.
-- wagster, Oct 02 2007

For those uncertain visits to the bathroom, you can go for a number hwaan.

So, how many Tanamo Bays are there?
-- marklar, Oct 02 2007

Hwaan should be a digit, like a zero but indicating approximation or imprecision. For example, if you have approximately 1,000 items, you would write 1,HHH. This reserves "1,000" for when the zeros are known for a fact.

"Hwaan" sounds a bit unfortunately like "one", giving rise to hearing problems (e.g. did you say "Hwaan hundred and hwaan" or "one hundred and one?") But I think it could easily be worked into computational methods, calculators should have an H button, and it would also make the concept of "significant digits" much, much easier.
-- phundug, Jul 17 2008

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