Use the convention tag for questions about standard, cultural practices in mathematics.

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40
votes
11answers
7k views

What is the average of no numbers?

I have two programs that both behave nearly identically: they both take in any numbers you give them and can tell you the average and how many numbers were given. However, when you don't give them any ...
29
votes
11answers
5k views

What could be better than base 10?

Most people use base 10; it's obviously the common notation in the modern world. However, if we could change what became the common notation, would there be a better choice? I'm aware that it very ...
20
votes
6answers
607 views

Is there a fundamental reason that $\int_b^a = -\int_a^b$

Is there a fundamental reason that switching the order of the limits in an integral results in the negative, i.e., $$\int_b^af(x)\,dx = -\int_a^bf(x)\,dx?$$ As far as I can tell, this is just chosen ...
16
votes
5answers
704 views

What are reasons why some symbols in mathematical logic are not standardized?

Why is so hard to find a standardisation regarding symbolism and/or terminology in Mathematical Logic ? We see again and again students asking if e.g. $\rightarrow$ and $\implies$ means the same ...
16
votes
3answers
871 views

Starting sentences with mathematical symbols.

I apologise if this is a duplicate in any way or is too opinion-based. To what extent is it best not to start a sentence with a mathematical symbol? I find that when trying to solve a problem or ...
15
votes
6answers
4k views

No radical in the denominator — why? [duplicate]

Why do all school algebra texts define simplest form for expressions with radicals to not allow a radical in the denominator. For the classic example, $1/\sqrt{3}$ needs to be "simplified" to ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

use of $\sum $ for uncountable indexing set

I was wondering whether it makes sense to use the $\sum $ notation for uncountable indexing sets. For example it seems to me it would not make sense to say $$ \sum_{a \in A} a \quad \text{where A is ...
11
votes
4answers
338 views

Why are the order-of-operations conventions good?

Children are sometimes taught silly mnemonics like "PEMDAS" to remember conventions on order of operations. (I never heard of "PEMDAS" until long after graduating from college, as far as I can ...
10
votes
3answers
765 views

Advocating base 12 number system

I had a calculus professor who suggested we should be using base 12 number system. What are the advantages of using such a system?
10
votes
3answers
370 views

Rationale for a convention: Why use the semiperimeter in Heron's formula?

Heron's formula says that the area of a triangle whose sides have lengths $a, b, c$ is $\sqrt{s(s-a)(s-b)(s-c)}$ where $s=(a+b+c)/2$ is the semiperimeter. It can also be stated by saying that the ...
9
votes
5answers
642 views

Set {1,1} = Set {1}, origin of this convention

Is there any book that explicitly contain the convention that a representation of the set that contain repeated element is the same as the one without repeated elements? Like $\{1,1,2,3\} = ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

What does a “convention” mean in mathematics?

We all know that $0!=1$, the degree of the zero polynomial equals $-\infty$, the interval$[a,a)=(a,a]=(a,a)=\emptyset$ ... and so on, are conventions in mathematics. So is a convention something that ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Obtaining the $\frac{1}{2\pi}$ factor in the Fourier transform

This MathWorld page gives this definition of a Fourier transform: $$F(k) = \int_{-\infty}^{\infty} f(x) e^{-2\pi i k x}dx.$$ But, I wish to speak in terms of linear frequency $\nu$ and time $t$ ...
8
votes
1answer
116 views

Wikipedia claims that number theorists tend to prefer $0 \notin \mathbb{N}$. Is this actually true?

According to wikipedia here: $\mathbb{N}$ means either $\{ 0, 1, 2, 3, ...\}$ or $\{ 1, 2, 3, ...\}.$ The choice depends on the area of mathematics being studied; e.g. number theorists ...
7
votes
2answers
357 views

Why does this text insist on changing the variable name here?

In What is mathematics? by Courant, Robbins, and Stewart, "5. An important inequality", the authors change $n$ in this example: $$(1+p)^n\geq1+np$$ to $r$ in this example: $$(1+p)^r\geq1+rp$$ In ...
6
votes
9answers
141 views

Why is empty product defined to be $1$? [duplicate]

For example $\prod_{2 \le j < 1} 2^j= 1.$ How does that happen?
6
votes
2answers
196 views

Good Hygiene in using Quantifiers

When using quantifiers it is probably important to pick up certain habits that Veterans agree upon as early as possible. Since it was pointed out to me by a highly esteemed member that it's ...
6
votes
4answers
155 views

Zero polynomial [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Polynomial of degree $-\infty$? Today in Abstract Algebra my instructor briefly mentioned that sometimes the zero polynomial is defined to have degree $-\infty$. What ...
6
votes
1answer
74 views

The convention for speakers to refer to themselves at the board with a single initial

This question is being asked on behalf of a graduate student in my department. When and where did the tradition start of a seminar or colloquium speaker using just the first initial of the speaker's ...
5
votes
5answers
275 views

No difference between $0/0$ and $0^0$?

I have seen discussions about both $0/0$ and $0^0$ and they differ a bit in the way that most seem ok with calling $0/0$ "undefined", while the $0^0$ discussion still seems like a dispute. If this is ...
5
votes
1answer
973 views

The Degree of Zero Polynomial

I wonder why the degree of the zero polynomial is $-\infty$ ? I heard that, it is $-\infty$ to make the formula $\deg(fg)=\deg(f)+\deg(g)$ hold when one of these polynomials is zero. However, if that ...
5
votes
1answer
176 views

Where should the 2$\pi$ go in the Fourier Transform?

In some lecture notes on Harmonic Analysis from Terence Tao here, he defines the fourier transform by $$\hat{f}(\tau)=\int_{\mathbb{R}}e^{-2\pi i t\tau}f(t)dt$$ and then says This is really the ...
5
votes
1answer
126 views

Choosing the definition of $\frac{\partial^2}{\partial x\partial y}$

Today, I answered this question and discovered that the definition of $\dfrac{\partial^2}{\partial x\partial y}$ is a matter of convention. For example this .edu link and this other .edu link use the ...
4
votes
2answers
88 views

A question on notation: $u(x,y)$ vs. $u(x+iy)$.

In Tao's complex analysis notes, he uses the convention that $$f(z)=u(z)+iv(z)= u(x+iy)+iv(x+iy)$$ implying that the functions are $$u,v:\mathbb{C} \to \mathbb{R}.$$ But in other places I see the ...
4
votes
3answers
105 views

Notation for $X - \mathbb{E}(X)$?

Let $X$ be a random variable with expectation value $\mathbb{E}(X)=\mu$. Is there a (reasonably standard) notation to denote the "centered" random variable $X - \mu$? And, while I'm at it, if $X_i$ ...
4
votes
3answers
680 views

What is a Neighborhood?

Which of these definitions is more commonly used, and in which contexts? Fix a point $x\in (X, \tau)$. Then a neighborhood around a point $x$ is: a set $N\ni x$ and $N\in \tau$ a set $N$ with $x\in ...
4
votes
1answer
53 views

Are these equivalent? $\cos^2(5x) = (\cos(5x))^2$

Are these equivalent? $$\cos^2(5x) = (\cos(5x))^2$$
4
votes
1answer
93 views

Quantities $g_2$, $g_3$, $\Delta$

This question is somewhat related to this one. Let $\lambda$ be the modular lambda function. Greenhill (Elliptic Functions, p. 57) states that we may put $$g_2 = \frac{1 - \lambda + \lambda^2}{12}, ...
4
votes
1answer
136 views

Category of topological pairs

Is there a standard abbreviation for the category of topological pairs? I have searched for it in vain.
3
votes
3answers
179 views

$x^{y^z}$: is it $x^{(y^z)}$ or $(x^y)^z$?

Of the following, why is a usually considered true, and for what reason other than "tradition" and "more convenient"? a: ${x}^{y^z} = x^{(y^z)} \neq {(x^y)}^z$ b: ${x}^{y^z} = {(x^y)}^z \neq ...
3
votes
3answers
380 views

In what order are chained implications evaluated? (i.e. $a \implies b \implies c$)

Implication does not appear to be associative: a b c | (a -> b) -> c | a -> (b -> c) F T F | F | T F F F | F | T Is $a ...
3
votes
5answers
3k views

What type of input does trigonometric functions take in

I see in my Book that 45 deg is equivalent of π/4 . Ι also do the conversion if I simply convert degrees into radians like this 45* π/180 = π/4 radians and ...
3
votes
2answers
235 views

Can mathematical definitions of the form “P if Q” be interpreted as “P if and only if Q”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Alternative ways to say “if and only if”? So when I come across mathematical definitions like "A function is continuous if...."A space is compact ...
3
votes
2answers
73 views

Should “together with” be taken as slang for an n-tuple?

When an algebraic structure is defined, it is often defined as a set $S$ "along with"/"together with"/"having" operations $\circ_1, \circ_2, \ldots, \circ_n$, and "denoted" by $(S, \circ_1, \circ_2, ...
3
votes
1answer
253 views

Commas separating adjectives to describe mathematical objects.

Is there a convention which rules that in mathematics an object with some properties should be referred to as a "property 1 property 2 property 3 ...object" rather than a "property 1, property 2, ...
3
votes
2answers
146 views

Usage of $\cdot$ in calculus

I often find myself caught in the dilemma of whether or not to use the symbol $\cdot$ in calculus. Take for example, the chain rule: $$\frac{dy}{dx} = \frac{dy}{du}\cdot\frac{du}{dx}$$ Is the ...
3
votes
1answer
498 views

Convention of digit grouping after decimal point

I read that different cultures have different ways of grouping digits before the decimal point for readability e.g. 1234567890 can be grouped as 1 234 567 890 (English), 12 3456 7890 (Chinese) or 1 23 ...
3
votes
1answer
83 views

Commas between adjectives [duplicate]

Is it correct to use these expressions without commas (as written below)? A finite simple group. A finitely generated abelian group. A finitely generated torsion-free abelian group. A ...
3
votes
0answers
33 views

Conjugation of permutations

In the group $S_n$ I usually use the fact that if $(a_1 a_2 \dots a_r) \in S_n$ is an r-cycle and $\sigma \in S_n$ then $\sigma (a_1 a_2 \dots a_r)\sigma^{-1} = (\sigma(a_1)\sigma(a_2) \dots ...
3
votes
0answers
45 views

Writing a Series of Equalities and Inequalities across Several Lines

What is the convention for writing a series of successive equalities and inequalities across multiple lines? Let me explain. Let $E_k$ denote an expression; for example, $E_0$ could be a sum or an ...
3
votes
0answers
94 views

In which field of science that we can prove $0! =1$ and what i can say to studentof high school if he asked about it's prove ?? [duplicate]

In mathematics there are some data , we have took them by convention and mathematics is not able to show us them proves , now want just to know if the "convention" term enough mathematics ...
2
votes
8answers
231 views

What is $2 - 1 + 1$? [duplicate]

$2-1+1$; a fairly straightforward question, but I (well, not me, but Henry Reich) found something strange. Most people would evaluate it as $2+(-1)+1 = 2$; however, this goes against the famed, and ...
2
votes
2answers
49 views

When (and why) did the convention that exponents are evaluated from right to left arise?

Earlier, I saw this question on Quora: X^Y^Z Which one do I do first? and the current most-upvoted answer is this: The ^ operator is not associative, so that: (X^Y)^Z is not the same value as ...
2
votes
4answers
230 views

Are there two conventional definitions of “holomorphic”?

In Walter Rudin's Real and Complex Analysis, second edition, on page 213, two definitions are stated. One of them says the derivative of $f$ at $z_0$ is $$f'(z_0)=\lim_{z\to ...
2
votes
3answers
438 views

Notation: permutation and its inverse

Consider the sequence $S = (A, B, C, D, E)$ and the permutation $\pi = (4, 1, 3, 5, 2)$: Which of the following is true? $$ \pi(S) = (B, E, C, A, D) \quad and \quad \pi^{-1}(S) = (D, A, C, E, B) ...
2
votes
2answers
269 views

Square brackets in indices?

What do these brackets within the indices mean in an equation like $$ \delta ^\mu _{[\alpha} \eta _{\beta ]\nu} ?$$ I can't find a text, which uses this notation, that explains it.
2
votes
2answers
171 views

Game Theory: players' gender convention?

What is the Game Theory convention of using gender terms (male/female) for the players? I found only one reference suggesting that odd-numbered players are male and even-numbered players are female. ...
2
votes
2answers
128 views

Is “iff” the same as equality if each member is a predicate?

"Iff" - if and only if ($\Leftrightarrow$ or $\leftrightarrow$, although the first usually carries a "meta" meaning, something that is not evaluated) - is used in $2x=3\Leftrightarrow x=\frac32$, ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

How to Convert a Number to Roman Numerals

i don't How to Convert a Number to Roman Numerals Using mathematical equation. if M=1000,D=500,C=100,L=50,X=10,V=5,I=1 then how convert any decimal number to Roman Numerals? such as if 1952 then its ...
2
votes
1answer
227 views

How many solutions for $x^2 = 1$?

Let $F$ be an non-archimedean local field, let $o$ be its ring of integers, and let $p$ be the maximal ideal Is there a closed form for the cardinality $$ | \{ x \in o / p^N: x^2 = -1 \bmod p^N\} | ...