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# What is -5^2? watch

1. (Original post by Good bloke)
If you properly understand the rules, and they are taught in all British schools, there is no ambiguity in the OP's question at all - there is no room for debate. We are talking about maths, for heaven's sake.
I'm a human, though, not a parser. If I have doubts about what the author wanted to write, regardless of what he did write, then there is ambiguity. Something is not necessarily clear because it can be parsed. For example, if somebody writes n*2003%10^6==555555? then I am (a) having to work hard to understand wtf the line means, with the author hoping I can work out what is going on correctly, and (b) I have to hope the author is correct! This is an extreme example, but if it's not going to be absolutely clear to the appropriate reader what you mean then common sense says that you should parenthesize. For this thread's question, it is not absolutely clear what the writer means by -5^2, and therefore we can say that while it strictly parses in a certain way, the expression is ambiguous.
2. There is a difference between resolving ambiguity and making things easy for those that don't understand. There is no ambiguity in this case.
3. (Original post by A Stranger in Moscow)
Fail.
How? That was an excellent response.

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Updated: November 10, 2008
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