I'd like to know what it is called in Math when you have two numbering systems and they represent the same thing, but with different numbers.

Let me give you an example, when you have civilian and military time...

You might have someone tell you that they want the doors open for a system at 3:30 PM.

If you follow the numbers up to and including 12 PM, the numbers on both numbering systems are the same; but if you go beyond that you can count two sets of numbers on your hands...starting at 13 in your head (military time) can constitute 1pm on your fingers (civilian time), 14 in your head would be 2pm on your fingers, and 15 in your head would be 3pm on your fingers.

I suppose you could do the same thing with different temperature scales.

What are parallel representations of the same thing like this called? I want to say conversion but that sounds like it would be called something else in math.


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This question came from our site for people interested in the history and origins of science and mathematics.

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    $\begingroup$ This isn't about history. It would be more appropriate for math.SE. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Jun 30 '15 at 2:49

I just call it unit conversion or sometimes unit analysis in my classes, especially in Chemistry and Physics. Both those terms are used in the textbooks I use, though "unit analysis" can also be used for checking that the unit (not the number) is correct, and it is also used for a particular technique to convert units.


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