Greek letters in math (was Re: Old Languages)
|From:||Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, October 4, 2001, 22:07|
On Thursday, October 4, 2001, at 11:25 AM, Andreas Johansson wrote:
> YHL wrote:
>> I would love to learn Ancient Greek, it's just trying to learn Spanish
>> *and* juggle teaching *and* classes right now is probably all I can
>> At least the alphabet is half-familiar from years of physics and
>> math. :-) Stepping-stones are useful...
> Speaking of Greek letters in math, I've got math prof who absolutely loves
> using lowercase xi, most commonly for a certain undetermined value of a
> variable x. Now, of course, lowercase xi is about the most undrawable
> character I've ever come across ...
> ... and don't get me started on minus xi-null prime ...
<shudder> God, yeah. Of course, I've had my share of profs whose x's, k'
s, 5's and s's were *all* indistinguishable. Not to mention profs who
reuse variable names by accident when you have some ungodly subsubscript
notation (I kid you not) because they start running out of reasonable
I have always thought, that if I became a research mathematician and had
the chance to name some concept or constant or whatever, I would use runic
letters, or at least the Old English (?) thorn. Or even, to add to the
confusion, some lonely isolated Korean consonant. =^)
We badly need notation reform in large chunks of mathematics, but it ain't
gonna happen. I remember how boggled some of us got when people started
using pi for functions, instead of the familiar 3.14159...