The Mathematics of Duelling

Duelling with pistols. If you were the one issuing the challenge, your dilemma was that custom dictated that your adversary be allowed to shoot first. Only then, if you were still able to shoot, would you be permitted to seek “satisfaction”.

How much of an advantage does the first shooter really have? In this article, we build a simple probability model, and implement a numerical model in a few lines of R code.

Two gentleman face off in the snow.  Convention dictates the challenged shoots first.

Two gentleman face off in the snow. Convention dictates the challenged shoots first.

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Why Zero Raised to the Zero Power IS One

Updated! February 5, 2017

The value of zero raised to the zero power, (0^0), has been discussed since the time of Euler in the 18th century (1700s). There are three reasonable choices: 1,0, or “indeterminate”. Despite consensus amongst mathematicians that the correct answer is one, computing platforms seem to have reached a variety of conclusions: Google, R, Octave, Ruby, and Microsoft Calculator choose 1; Hexelon Max and TI-36 calculator choose 0; and Maxima and Excel throw an error (indeterminate). In this article, I’ll explain why, for discrete mathematics, the correct answer cannot be anything other than 0^0=1, for reasons that go beyond consistency with the Binomial Theorem (Knuth’s argument).
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