The worst notational abuse

Posted on October 17, 2013 by Tommy McGuire
Labels: theory, notation, books

I have lately been reading Programming Distributed Computing Systems: A Foundational Approach, by Carlos A. Varela, and so far been fairly impressed. The presentation has been clear, and the topics (the \(\pi\) calculus, actors, the join calculus, and mobile ambients) are things that I probably should already know more about than I do. But it has reminded me of the worst abuse of notation I am aware of, in theoretical computer science.

In the \(\pi\) calculus, computation occurs by processes exchanging messages across channels. Creating a channel (roughly the equivalent of introducing a new variable in a \(\lambda\) expression in that calculus) is done with the syntax:

$$ (\nu c)P $$

where \(c\) is the new channels's name and \(P\) is the remainder of the process, where \(c\) is bound.

What is the Greek letter \(\nu\)? Nu. New \(c\), geddit?


active directory applied formal logic ashurbanipal authentication books c c++ comics conference continuations coq data structure digital humanities Dijkstra eclipse virgo electronics emacs goodreads haskell http java job Knuth ldap link linux lisp math naming nimrod notation OpenAM osgi parsing pony programming language protocols python quote R random REST ruby rust SAML scala scheme shell software development system administration theory tip toy problems unix vmware yeti
Member of The Internet Defense League
Site proudly generated by Hakyll.