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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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X Value
The value of n is still unknown, but new results constrain it to fall between 8 and 10^500, ruling out popular 'n=1' and 'n=2' theories.
Title text: The value of n is still unknown, but new results constrain it to fall between 8 and 10^500, ruling out popular 'n=1' and 'n=2' theories.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by A SET OF N MATHEMATICIANS TRYING TO FIND THE VALUE OF Y - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

In algebra, a variable is any symbol used to represent a number that has not been determined or chosen. The most familiar algebraic variable is x (the unknown input), with y often being the yet-to-be-determined output (its value being dependent on x). According to the comic, the value of x has finally been found, being 4.1083. The joke is that a general-purpose variable, which may take different values in different scenarios, turns out to have a specific value, as though it were a constant. Constants in mathematics and other scientific fields are also often represented by a single symbol - some of the most well-known are π (3.14159...), e (Euler's number, 2.71828...) and c (the speed of light, 299,792,458 m/s (670,616,629 mph, 1,079,252,848.8 km/h, 1.8026x1012 fur/ftn)).

The specific number 4.1083 does not have any notable significance or special role in the contexts of physics, chemistry, finance, astronomy or cryptography. This number to 3 decimal places, 4.108, was referenced previously in comic 899: Number Line.

The title text declares the value of n is unknown. n is often used as an unknown/undetermined integer value. For example, it might be used in statistics to specify the size of a sample. For example, a list where n = 50 would mean the list contains 50 data points, for which that number of iterations or a larger number of cross-comparisons might be expected.

According to the title text, however, the value has been narrowed down to somewhere between 8 and 10500, or one hundred quinsexagintacentillion. Allegedly, therefore, it cannot be one of the (usually) simplest values of 1 or 2. It also means that the narrowing-down isn't particularly narrow, although it is perhaps quite specific compared to the 'pre-narrowing' possibilities of being absolutely any finite value at all.


[A math formula is circled.]
x = 4.1083
[Caption below the panel:]
Big math news: They finally figured out the value of x.

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