Endower Institute researchers today announced the discovery of a completely new kind of number, the "like number." Like numbers are the first new kind of number to be introduced into mathematics since Donald Knuth's "surreal numbers." Surreals were previously considered the most exotic form of numbers, but like numbers, according to lead researcher Dr. Pangloe, are "an even wilder expansion of the conventional idea of what a 'number' is allowed to be."
Unlike most mathematical concepts, "like numbers" were not discovered by a process of abstract reasoning, but through analysis of natural language. In fact, according to Dr. Pangloe, "Most people have an intuitive understanding of like numbers." He blames the failure of mathematicians to study like numbers on "an archaic attachment to the Victorian notion of 'formal' proof. This fetish for 'formality' has blinded so-called mathematicians from embracing what was right in front of them all along."
Like numbers, although they lack familiar numerical properties such as transitivity, associativity, and operability, have a range of new properties such as plausibility, gynormity, and pertinence (or, in some formulations, prurience.) Like numbers form an algebriac structure and support all the operations of a conventional field—addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division—but also allow for allusion, revision, recreation, and interpretation, among many other previously unknown operations.
A like number is notated using a new technique called indifferent expressions—similar in form to lambda expressions. As a conventional number is defined in lambdas as a higher-order anonymous function, a like number is defined in indifference as a higher-order inscrutable gesture. Indifferent expressions, however, are much more general in their potential applications than lambda expressions, and methods are now being developed to apply them not only to mathematical entities but to social phenomena and physical objects. "Just a few days ago," said Dr. Pangloe, "one of my students, in my presence, altered the deadline on his paper from three weeks to like a month. I myself have on several occasions reduced—my wife can testify—three, six, even ten drinks to like one. These are just the kind of real-world applications that mathematicians have been allowed to ignore for much too long."
The research will be published in the forthcoming inaugural edition of the Journal of Experimental Mathematics (Endower Institute J-16). This new publication will be edited by the leading members of the controversial X-Math movement. "It's time," said Dr. Pangloe in his office, pointing to a poster behind him with the movement's symbol, a flaming brain, "for mathematicians to leave behind their obsolete elitist claims of a special status among the sciences and embrace more modern, creditable methods."