**Source:**Badu, K.

Without an iota of doubt, the erudite NPP 2012 Vice Presidential Candidate, Dr. Bawumiah, has managed to outwit many people with his superlative econometric exegesis. Indeed, Dr. Bawumiah has left many observers besotted in their minds as to whether blank is synonymous with zero in arithmetic sense.

Of course, 0 is a number. However, it is not a countable number. Indeed, 0, is an additive or accumulative identity of the integers (e.g. 1, 2, 3,5,6,8 etc.). For example, 10-10=0, in this instance the answer 0 is a number but not countable.

Interestingly, connoisseurs tell us that the number zero was considered diabolical during the transition from Roman numerals to Arabic digits. In a way, it still is. For instance, saying "I have no money" is logical, but saying "I have zero money" is awkward; the negative is transferred to the word "zero". It's also tricky -- you can divide by any number but zero, and powerful -- any number multiplied by zero equals zero.

Likewise, blank is synonymous with zero. For example, if you have a formula in a worksheet, and the cell referenced by the formula is blank, then the formula still returns a zero value.

On the other hand, if you have the formula =A3, then the formula returns the contents of cell A3, unless cell A3 is blank. In that case, the formula returns a value of zero.

"Blank" is used synonymously with "empty." If that is the case, is empty then equals nil? Is nil equals zero?

Let us assume that Dr. Afari-Gyan just bought a house. There is a kitchen, but the previous owners moved the refrigerator. There’s a space where the refrigerator used to be. But there’s no refrigerator there anymore. That space is ‘blank- ‘nil’- empty. Is that blank space then implying there is no refrigerator?

In other words, just because Dr. Afari-Gyan has set aside a space where the refrigerator ought to be, and he, Dr. Afari-Gyan says to visitors, “the fridge is going to be right over there,” that won’t make the refrigerator magically appears. Would it?

Yes, Dr. Afari-Gyan may have a ‘blank’ spot for a refrigerator, nevertheless, he has no refrigerator, as simple as that.

In computing or programming parlance, that ‘blank’ spot becomes ‘null’—‘empty’—zero magnitude. In other words, an empty field, if it doesn't have a default value or if it's cleared by the user, is "Null". Null, however, is another word meaning zero.

In a similar anecdote, computers for example, are represented by “strings of characters". A fixed-length String variable is initialized (for example with spaces), and variable-length strings are initially empty: "". Their length is thus zero, so an empty string is also called a "zero-length string".

For me, indefatigable Dr. Bawumiah’s exposition is not a mere rigmarole. Indeed, his excellent explication of econometric shows he, Dr. Bawumiah, is a GENIUS.

K. Badu, UK.

**Columnist:**Badu, K.