Devanāgarī and mathematical notation

Posted on October 10, 2007 by Tommy McGuire
Labels: notation, math, naming
I have just discovered that Blogger offers a doodad supplying
an automatic transliteration option for converting Roman characters to the Devanāgarī characters used in Hindi.
This is brilliant! Given that I read a lot of both mathematics and programs, I am exposed to a lot of very bad notation. In code that is a fairly common complaint, but consider that in mathematics, not only are alphabets from otherwise-unused languages common (Quick! How many uses can you name for sigma or pi? How about aleph?), but frequently fonts are assigned meanings (Blackboard Bold, anyone? Fraktur?) I'm frequently left remembering E.W. Dijkstra's famous question, "Do the colors have any specific meaning?"

Speaking of Dijkstra, wouldn't the world be a better place if more people spent time considering their notations?

Anyway, following my recent adventures in Category Theory (an abstract and seemingly very nice branch of math that also seems to be primarily obscured by its notation and terminology) I have once again affirmed my vow that, if I am ever in the position to create a new mathematical notation, I will use Devanāgarī, and probably something profane.

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