Multiplication

Permit me a bit of pettiness, okay?

Come to think of it, it’s probably the first thing you expect of me when coming here.

Anyway, I digress.

I don’t know much algebra. That said, I still do know that multiplying something by two is a very different thing than multiplying it by itself! It seems that many people, marketers and advertisers chief among them, are not aware of this difference.

Want an example? According to the Wikipedia,

Current TV is the first American 24-hour network based around viewer-created content, which it dubs VC².

They clearly mean VCC and are trying to be clever by shortening it to VC², except the two are not remotely the same thing. If anything, they mean V(2×C) and not V(C×C).

I see where you’re going to take this though. You’re going to tell me that V(2×C) can also be correctly expressed as V(2C), and since 2C is equivalent to 2×C, then CC is equivalent to C×C which is also equivalent to C². While this is true, the abbreviation we started with is simply a string of three letters. There are no implied mathematical operations. The last two letters are the same. Therefore, if they’re going to drag any operation into this, it’s simple multiplication by two, and certainly not multiplication with each other.

If they’re going to insist on multiplying the letters with each other, I’m forced to use the only numeric values for ‘V’ and ‘C’ I know and assume V×C×C is 50,000. Where’s the sense in that?

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5 Comments

  1. Rachel
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:05 | Permalink

    It’s hot when you get all nerdy.

  2. sethra
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 02:44 | Permalink

    Ahem, umm, Rick? I hate to stomp on your parade, burst your bubble or do any of those other cliches, but the math major in me must speak up. I cannot help myself.

    To square anything means to multiply it by itself. It does not mean to multiply the base by two. Hence 4^2 (four squared) means 4×4, which equals 16, not 4×2 which only equals 8. Therefore VC^2 (sorry, I have no idea how to superscript in a comment box) actually does mean VCC, since putting variables in a string such as this indicates multiplication.

    The logic that C^2 = 2C = CxC only works if your base and your exponent are both 2. Try replacing C with any other number besides 2 and you’ll see what I mean.

    Another way of looking at it, just as multiplication is a type of short hand for ADDING the same number over and over, exponential notation is a type of shorthand for MULTIPLYING the same number over and over.

  3. Rick
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 10:46 | Permalink

    You’re right on all counts, Sethra, but my peeve about this is because the squaring is used when the letters are *not* mathematical variables. If they were, VCC would certainly be VC^2 exactly as you say. But in the case I gave as an example, the two Cs are short for Created Content. There are two Cs…they’re not multiplied. This is why I say V(2C) works while VC^2 makes no sense.

    Similarly, I knew two people who had the same first name. When together, they used to call themselves “Jim squared.” I make the same argument that when they are together, their quantity isn’t Jim times Jim, but rather Jim times two.

  4. sethra
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 13:08 | Permalink

    Ah. I see your point. Use mathematical symbols when math is being applied. The two C’s are not identical, therefore are not being squared, just doubled. That’s what I get for trying to interpret anything at 1am. 🙂

  5. Posted June 30, 2008 at 13:35 | Permalink

    …and I was thinking they were multiplying velocity by the square of the speed of light. (sigh)

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