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I am writing a scientific article with a few mathematical equations. Can I assume that my audience will know what lhs and rhs mean?

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closed as off topic by Aryabhata, Mariano Suárez-Alvarez, t.b., Qiaochu Yuan Feb 24 '11 at 17:42

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This question is not about mathematics at all. – Adrián Barquero Feb 24 '11 at 17:00
Well David, the fact that they suggested you to ask it in here does not imply that it is appropriate for this site. – Adrián Barquero Feb 24 '11 at 17:07
Agree with Adrián. Voted to close as off-topic. – Aryabhata Feb 24 '11 at 17:15
This is relevant. It is about how mathematics is discussed. I agree with PEV's comment it should be LHS and RHS. But the first time you use it, just mention left hand side(LHS). – picakhu Feb 24 '11 at 17:15
The answer to the question as stated depends on your audience. I agree that this is not a mathematical question. – Qiaochu Yuan Feb 24 '11 at 17:42
up vote 10 down vote accepted

If you even have to think if your audience knows what a particular abbreviation means, then you must explain it.

In any case, writing LHS/RHS in anything but very informal contexts seems simply unacceptable to me.

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I like to define acronyms like:

"The left hand side (LHS) of Equation 1..."

And then use LHS throughout the rest of the paper if it is used frequently. If you only use "left hand side" a few times, it's best to just spell it out.

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I think abbreviations like that rarely pay.

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Agreed. I would never use those abbreviations without explanation even when writing for mathematicians! – Hans Lundmark Feb 24 '11 at 17:32
Ironic answer from someone with your name! – wildildildlife Feb 24 '11 at 20:41

I think it should be pretty obvious. Or you can simply say that LHS means "left hand side" and RHS means "right hand side." But many biologists have probably studied some probability or statistics. So they might have seen this notation before.

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good point; is more proper to use capitalization? – David LeBauer Feb 24 '11 at 17:04
@David: I think it is proper to use capitalization. – PEV Feb 24 '11 at 17:06

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