Thread: variables came from?

  1. #1
    Hail to the king, baby. Akkernight's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Faroe Islands

    variables came from?

    Just another topic about me wondering about something unimportant, yet I think I'll ask so that you peeps have something to do :P

    Does the word 'variable' come from the word 'vary'? As in, it's something that holds a number or something that can vary, bla bla bla

    I just wanna be sure, and to waste a bit of time in class xP
    Currently research OpenGL

  2. #2
    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    May 2004
    Out of scope
    Sent from my iPadŽ

  3. #3
    Hail to the king, baby. Akkernight's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Faroe Islands
    that's a nice dictionary o.o
    Anyways, then you got to spend a whole 1 minute answering! And now I'm a 100% sure
    Currently research OpenGL

  4. #4
    The Registered User Aparavoid's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Vari + able? Able to vary? Sounds like an adjective to me.

  5. #5
    Officially An Architect brewbuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aparavoid View Post
    Vari + able? Able to vary? Sounds like an adjective to me.
    As used in programming, the word "variable" is a noun. The word can also act as an adjective.

    "These quantities are all variable."
    "These quantities are all variables."

    Both sentences are valid.

    This is not unusual in English. Another example would be the word "consumable" which, as an adjective, means that something can be consumed, and as as a noun, refers to something which can be consumed.
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);

  6. #6
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    May 2006
    I find very interesting words like these that so clearly show our common language ancestry from the Indo-European. With only small variations on the orthography this is one of those words of which morphology is the exact same thing in most, if not all, Indo-European languages. From Romance languages to Germanic, to Iranian and Slavic languages we all agree; vari + abili.

    Many years ago -- or so it seems to me. It's really been only 10 years -- I was briefly part of a team involved in a project for the publication of a free comprehensive Portuguese dictionary. A project that unfortunately failed due to budget cuts from our only investor, a local university of letters. To this day my country still doesn't offer a freely accessible Portuguese dictionary source. We do have access to free dictionaries. Not their sources. They are all privately copyrighted. Hopefully that may change with the, unfortunately painstaking slow, effort by our most prestigious university of letters after the recent membership to the GWA.

    Anyway, I digress. The head of that project was an individual fascinated by language and its history. Among many other thought provoking ideas he had, in one related to this he argued that we owe much to the Ionian School precursors to modern science (I find it incredible that the wikipedia article fails to mention Democritus! So I won't link to it) that popularized, if not even constructed some of these words with very strong scientific meaning. Due to the nearly 20 centuries of scientific suppression that followed shortly after initiated by men like Thales and Aristotle these words crystallized in most of Europe and became uncommon, consequently didn't evolve within the various languages and their dialects well until the 16th century.

    Even today the word, although quite plausible to use in common speech, is more often delegated to matters of science and thus is less susceptible to evolution. He gave us other examples of words like this. I wish I could remember.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 09-03-2009 at 08:28 PM.
    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  7. #7
    Guest Sebastiani's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Waterloo, Texas
    Just looking at the Wikipedia article, it appears Portuguese probably would be a great candidate for a thorough etymological study, due to it's unique historical heritage. I actually had no idea the language was so prevalent, either, which is a pretty interesting.

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