Question on ISO-639:1988

Mark E. Shoulson mark at
Fri Jun 4 05:58:48 CEST 2004

jcowan at wrote:

>Lee Gillam scripsit:
>>An 8 layer hierarchy with 26 possible elements per layer can be used to
>>produce a very large system (2 followed by 11 zeros approximately).
>But only if everything falls just right, and it does not.  The IP addresses
>used on the Internet have a maximum extent of 2^32 = about 4 billion codes,
>but we are running out of them even though we do not have 4 billion computers
>in the world, because they are assigned in a hierarchical manner and some
>parts of the system are much sparser than others.  The successor protocol
>allows 2^128 codes precisely so that it can be extremely sparse throughout
>in hopes that it will not run over.
And indeed sparsity is a Good Thing for avoiding confusions of Japanese 
for Buginese and the like.  The Hamming distance between the codes can 
be large, and thus allow for a certain amount of error detection and 
maybe even correction.  OK, categorizing languages isn't necessarily the 
right place to be doing error-correcting codes, but at least informally 
the mnemonicity and sparsity of the codes do help keep things on-track.


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