Why Amollo Otiende confused ‘x’ with ‘times’ in the ongoing Raila Petition

2 x 2 = 4 is straightforward mathematical sentence that everyone who has set foot in an elementary class is aware of. The Problem comes when dealing with algebra where alphanumeric symbols are used as part of mathematical equations, equations such as y = mx + c. Should one for instance read the ‘x’ in y = mx + c as ‘times’ or as letter ex? Such confusion was witnessed earlier today when Amollo Otiende read the ‘x’ in the equation Y = 1.2045x + 183546 as ‘times’ instead of reading it as ex during the ongoing Raila Petition.

Mathematicians have noted this problem too, and have tried to work around it by using alternative symbols for multiplication. The most notable symbol is the asterisk (*). The asterisk symbol is now the accepted symbol for multiplication in digital online based calculator programmes including the beloved Microsoft Excel  spreadsheet.

An alternative symbol is the use of the dot (.) symbol and this is particularly popular in algebraic equations – such an equation may be represented as ab = a.2 for b = 2. When doing analogue manual handwriting of these algebraic equations, mathematicians prefer the use of this . symbol.

When writing the normal numerical calculations, mathematicians still prefer to use the multiplication symbol x, although x is actually not the correct symbol for multiplication. In the Wikipedia article on Multiplication Sign, we are told that the “multiplication sign, also known as the times sign or the dimension sign is the symbol ×. While similar to the lowercase letter x, the form is properly a rotationally symmetric saltire” Now, we are again told by Wikipedia that a Saltire “also called Saint Andrew’s Cross, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross, like the shape of the letter X in Roman type”.  You should notice that the top and down angles in × are wider than the same angles in x.

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Although Amollo Otiende can clearly be excused for reading wrongly the equation Y = 1.2045x + 183546 during his verbal submission in the ongoing Raila Petition, it is important to note that the equation is exactly what we were taught in high school as y = mx + c, where m in this case is 1.2045 and c is 183546.

I submit that there is no way one could have gone through high school math classes and fail to recognise this basic linear algebraic equation of a straight line across the X,Y plane. In college, the equation comes back as linear regression formula in the form of Y=a+bX. His confusion is still baffling me.

It has been submitted in the Raila Petition that the formula Y = 1.2045x + 183546 was the algorithm in IEBC servers that was used to ensure a constant difference between President Uhuru’s votes and Raila Odinga’s votes. The truth of this submission can be authenticated in two ways: by proving that indeed some algorithm is in the IEBC server and that algorithm actually manipulated any incoming data, or indirectly getting the order of results transmission from polling stations and comparing the results from those polling stations in the sequence they streamed in with the same results as recorded in the forms 34A. This indirect method would take months to finalize.

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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