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Hans Aberg <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 21 May 2001 11:32:08 +0200
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At 09:23 +0200 2001/05/21, Thierry Bouche wrote:
>Honestly, when i read maths with a \varphi next to a  \phi, i
>never know whether it's keying error or semantic subtility.

But these papers, do they not have a definition somewhere telling what
mathematical quantities they denote?

I think it would be difficult to have any of those rather different
variations side by side in a math paper and they denote the same
mathematical quantity.

> The
>problem being that any available glyph in a standard font set will be
>used by mathematicians... On the other hand, pi and varpi should
>cohabit, but maybe with a more semantic name (pi/doricpi?).

This is the key to the problem: How mathematicians use it.

When I read a math paper, I try to figure out what mathematical quantities
the different glyphs represent and then I focus on those mathematical
quantities when I read the paper, and not the glyphs themselves.

There are some corny practises out the for sure, and sometimes it can be
difficult to read a style that one is not used to:

But I have never heard a mathematician wanting to impose restrictions in
order to provide better styles: Often the style is dictated by the problem
of expressing the mathematical structure, so it would be unfortunate to
have to cope with restrictions that may conflict with that directive.

By contrast, in computer language programming, it is quite common trying to
impose such restrictions. But that would not work in math.

> Making it hard for authors to use in a same paper
>two versions of epsilon or phi is a good thing for the
>readers. Allowing them to choose which shape they prefer is no
>problem, especially if the publisher can override this with his

So I totally disagree here: Because of what you said yourself, the manner
in which mathematicians may use these glyphs, this would not be prudent.

  Hans Aberg