TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Leading Zeros?

Re: Leading Zeros?

Wed, 16 Feb 2005 17:59:23 -0800

Thanks for replies on this issue. No one said what I was hoping someone
would tell me, however, namely that avoiding the use of leading zeros
was a well-known design principle. Advice like

"As a matter of good application design (or at least, if you'd just
as soon avoid all kinds of unnecessary complications) don't design
a system that employs labels, or ID numbers, or "article numbers"
in which leading zeros are significant or even necessary"

still seems to me a sensible choice, however.

What started this thread was that the American Physical Society some
years ago chose to revamp their centuries-old system of identifying
journal articles by volume number and page number (or numbers) --
still the near-universal practice for nearly all journals of any kind
-- with a new system of volume number and a six-digit "article" number
for each article.

I'll readily concede that in both cases these are at least as much
"labels" as "numbers" -- though they're spoken of and in many cases
act very much like numbers.

The newly arrived article number, though, allows for and to some extent
mandates the leading zeros. Whether all the different varieties of
widely used bibliographic software that people employ for research and
writing (EndNote as just one example) will properly store and handle
these leading zeros is open to question; I doubt that many of them
anticipated that this could be a requirement

Actually, APS isn't even consistent about this themselves. If you go to
their bibliographic search site <> you'll find that
you can select Phys Rev A and key in "64" and "33811" and you'll get
article 033811 in volume 64 with no problem ("064" and "33811" will be
flagged as invalid, however). The leading zero is mandatory in certain
URLs that lead you to full text of the article itself, however.

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