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At 11:56 15/10/2012 -0400, James Knott wrote:
Brian Barker wrote:
Now you are assuming (1) that negative election results are possible,

I was just posting in reference to comment about negative numbers and not the original post.

That makes your suggestion (of applying ABS() to the values) even more surprising! If you get a negative value and you are surprised by it, you had better determine what has gone wrong - perhaps a mistake either in data entry or else in the algorithm used in your calculations. If your deliberations lead you to replace the negative value by a positive one, it would be very naive to imagine that the equivalent positive value is necessarily any more appropriate than any other non-negative value.

If your bank manager reports that you are overdrawn, do you make a correcting deposit or do you merely offer the helpful suggestion that s/he should use correcting fluid to excise the negative sign from your balance? If you believe there is a valuable mineral deposit ten metres under your back garden but you do not fancy digging down to it, do you simply build a ten-meter tower instead and expect to harvest the deposit up in the air? If you have three metres of string available and need to use five metres of it, does that mean you will have two metres left over?

Brian Barker

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