You must be wondering, why is this a so important subject? Well, take the example where a challenge asks you to take a "natural number" as input. What's a natural number? A non-negative integer, or a positive integer? The same would happen with Fibonacci numbers, do we include the 0 or not?
Another example would be for a challenge asking you to handle a case where you have to do 0⁰. Does that equal 1 or 0?
In both cases, and generally in a case where a mathematical concept has many accepted definitions and the question doesn't specify which one to use, one would either
- wonder what definition to follow, or
- perceive it as "too obvious" and use the definition they see themselves fit.
In the first case, one can simply leave a comment asking the original poster what definition to use. In the second case, they will use a particular definition to make an answer, and then there are many possibilities, so that the definition used can be:
- free for the answerer to choose,
- the one the original poster intended, or
- different from the intended definition.
I emphasize on the last case, since there can be the one answer with the wrong definition, or a swarm of answers with wrong definitions, the latter being more difficult to face, so more of a problem.
To avoid such cases of ambiguity, what should be done about it?