[M.A.P.L.E. IV-2] Specific to General or Vice-Versa

Last year, I wrote a post on Duck Dodgers and coordinates, using real-life examples of coordinates. Today, when I was transcribing an old journal, I found an interesting observation, which was partially related to coordinates, and brought up another association. It won’t have any cartoons in it today, but I guess I’ll make it homework to the reader :p

The line which I would like to focus on from last year’s post is as follows:

“[R]oom numbers in a building often are coded such that the first digit(s) is/are the floor number, and the second digit(s) is/are the room number.  There can also be a wing coordinate coded in there.  For example, my office is M-445, which is on the 4th floor of the M-wing, room number 45.  That’s 3 independent coordinates.”

In the transcribed journal, I had the following line:

“In this building, the first digit is floor, 2nd is wing, 3-4 is room. Weird! (I was in 2-415.)”

The building was Kresge Hall on the Northwestern campus, which I had not entered during my first four years at NU, but was there for a special function. I pride myself on having a good sense of direction, so I entered and saw room numbers like “2-220.” I figured that I had to go to the fourth floor.


When I ascended the stairs, I then saw “3-220” and realized that the first digit was Floor and the second number must have been the Wing. So I walked around the second floor for a while, self-directing myself to the “4” wing and finding the room on time.  As I said, I seem to have a good sense of direction!

In terms of coded numbers, it makes the most sense to go from most general to most specific (or vice-versa). This is true with addresses read out: they go from specific (block number) to general (city and state and USA).

However, I can’t say that Kresge is the only case when the logical order is not given either forward or reverse. Another good example: DATES!

In the States, dates (rhyme partially intended) are written Month-Day-Year, which reads as General-to-Specific in NEITHER direction. In many other countries, it goes Day-Month-Year when written as digits: e.g., today is 2-5-2015 in places other than the USA. I remember that when I was in Spanish class in high school, the teacher recommended using Roman numerals for the month (i.e., 2-V-2015 is today) when writing la fecha.

The illogical method of Month-Day-Year is something that I have grown up with, though, and is something that I don’t think I would be able to change easily, at least when writing dates as purely an ordered pair of numbers.

Readers, what other ordered n-tuples do you know of which would make more sense in a different order so as to become specific-to-general or vice-versa?


Today is the second day of the fourth round of M.A.P.L.E.

היום שמונה ועשרים יום–שהם ארבעה שבועות לעומר

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