Question on the meaning, history, and usage of mathematical symbols and notation. Please remember to mention where (book, paper, webpage, etc.) you encountered any mathematical notation you are asking about.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

10
votes
0answers
137 views

Does anyone use $\subset$ for proper subset anymore?

I belong the the group of people who still write (not necessarily proper) subset as $\subseteq$ to avoid any confusion with proper subset, which I notate $\subsetneq$; I usually do not use $\subset$ ...
10
votes
0answers
199 views

Origin of $\mapsto$ notation

Who invented the brilliant $\mapsto$ notation for describing a function's action on a point, as in $x \mapsto x^2$? This is in some sense a counterpart to Who came up with the arrow notation $x \...
9
votes
0answers
406 views

notation for ramification index and inertial degree

For a prime $Q$ lying over a prime $P$, I have seen the ramification index of $Q$ over $P$ denoted by $e(Q|P)$ and the inertial degree of $Q$ over $P$ by $f(Q|P)$. What is the origin of the ...
8
votes
0answers
206 views

Modern notational alternatives for the indefinite integral?

I like the Leibniz notation, and I think the reason it's survived for over 300 years and continued to be almost the only game in town is that in many respects it's a miracle of design. Nevertheless it'...
8
votes
0answers
5k views

What symbol expresses “less than approximately”?

Suppose, I want to state that $a$ is less than $b$. However, I do not know $b$ exactly, but only that it is approximately $c$. With other words I want to state that $a$ is lesser than some value which ...
7
votes
0answers
253 views

Why use Einstein Summation Notation?

Einstein summation convention dictates that repeated indices should be summed. Thus the equation $a_{ij} = b_{ik}c_{kj}$ is taken to mean $a_{ij} = \sum_k b_{ik}c_{kj}$ where in both cases the range ...
7
votes
0answers
81 views

Sets, that have $\operatorname{LCM}\left(|c_1|,\dots,|c_p|\right)=\sum_{k=1}^p |c_k|$

I found that the least common multiple of the sizes of conjugacy classes $c_k$ of the symmetric group $S_n$ is equivalent to $n!$ the order of the group. Equivalently the sum of all $c_k$ is also $n!$....
6
votes
0answers
56 views

Equivalent to proportionality sign for additive constants

Short question Is there an equivalent to the proportionality sign $\propto$ for additive constants? The proportionality relation $y\propto x$ implies that $y=kx$ for some constant $k$. Is there a ...
6
votes
0answers
742 views

Typesetting imaginary unit and bessel functions

I know that this issue has been treated in many places, but I have yet to reach something conclusive, hence I am herein seeking your help. Following the 260.3-1993 - American National Standard ...
6
votes
0answers
265 views

Notation for n-ary exponentiation

We have $n$-ary sums ($\sum$) and products ($\prod$). Is there an $n$-ary exponentiation operator? $$\underset{i=1}{\overset{n}{\LARGE{\text{E}}}}\, x_i = x_1 \text{^} (x_2 \text{^} (\cdots \text{^} ...
5
votes
0answers
63 views

Difference between $d\mu(x)$ and $\mu(dx)$

In my lecture notes of probability course I found two different notations involving $d,\mu$ and $x$: is there any difference between $\mu(dx)$ and $d\mu(x)$? For example I read $\mu(dx) = \frac{1}{\...
5
votes
0answers
53 views

Notation for inhabited sets

A set $X$ is called inhabited if it has some element. In classical mathematics, this means that it is not the empty set, so that one usually writes $X \neq \emptyset$. However, in intuitionistic ...
5
votes
0answers
68 views

Why is the commutator expressed as $aba^{-1}b^{-1}$ instead of $a^{-1}b^{-1}ab$?

In almost all texts I am finding the definition The commutator of $a,b \in G$ is the element $$aba^{-1}b^{-1}$$ However, it seems more intuitive to me to define it as The commutator of $a,b ...
5
votes
0answers
104 views

Notation/terminology for “independent” subspaces/subalgebras

Let $V$ denote a vector space (or any other kind of algebraic structure). Question. Letting $I$ denote a fixed set and $X$ denote an $I$-indexed family of subspaces (subalgebras) of $V$, is there ...
5
votes
0answers
67 views

Where can I learn more about the “else” operation / “else monoid”?

(The set of natural numbers $\mathbb{N}$ starts at $0$ for me.) Let $X$ denote a set, and define $X_\bot = X \uplus \{\bot\}.$ Let $\mathbf{else}$ denote the binary operation on $X_\bot$ defined as ...
5
votes
0answers
63 views

Why row vectors in stochastic processes?

It seems reasonable to state that column vectors $\mathbf{x}$ are the most frequently seen standard notation, often using $\mathbf{x}^\intercal$ to denote a row vector (transposed column vector). ...
5
votes
0answers
190 views

Symbols to represent each distinct symmetry of polyhedra

Is there a pictorial or symbolic way to represent each distinct symmetry of a polyhedron?
5
votes
0answers
162 views

Why do Mathematicians use $u$ and $v$ as variables?

I'm sure this has happened to you as well: you are reading some hand-written work, the variables used are $u$ and $v$, and at some point the handwriting becomes unclear and you cannot distinguish the $...
5
votes
0answers
423 views

Paul Erdős Joke.

I was watching the great documentary "$N$ is a Number" and in it Erdős tells a joke where he writes: PGOM LD AD LD CD Which means poor great old man, living dead, archeological discovery, legally ...
5
votes
0answers
702 views

Is there a name or definition for this popular notation?

I'm sorry if this is a silly question. I've done quite a bit of searching and have not found any definition or name for this symbol/usage, despite immense popularity and convenience. The sources I've ...
4
votes
0answers
58 views

What are these S,Z,M short for in linear algebra?

In the text Linear algebra (Hoffman), there are notations S, Z, M. What are these short for -- that is, why are these particular three letters used for the following concepts? (i) S. Let $W$ ...
4
votes
0answers
95 views

Einstein notation

I'm confused about a specific issue that I have with the Einstein notation (for tensor fields on manifolds). I want to write the following thing: Let $X$ be a smooth manifold. Choosing local ...
4
votes
0answers
53 views

Unique Conway notation for knots?

Is the Conway notation for a knot unique? Here are two rational tangles whose closures give the trefoil knot. However the Conway notation written for the trefoil knot is usually presented as 3 in ...
4
votes
0answers
40 views

How to read an expression that is ambiguous?

(1) How should I parenthesize $\log n \log \log n$? Also: (2) What general rule/rationale is used to do this parenthesization? To elaborate; I see why $\log\log n$ is unambiguous, but $\log n \log .....
4
votes
0answers
118 views

Why not defining a measure as a function on functions?

A measure $\mu$ is a function to $\left[0,\infty\right]$ on the sets belonging to a $\sigma$-algebra. Then for integrable functions $f$ the integral $\int fd\mu$ comes in, having nice properties ...
4
votes
0answers
97 views

Good confusion-avoiding notation for gluing toric varieties from fans?

$ \newcommand\R{\mathbb R} \newcommand\C{\mathbb C} \DeclareMathOperator\Cone{Cone} $I'm trying to establish a good notation to avoid confusion when we glue toric varieties from affine pieces. A ...
4
votes
0answers
875 views

Notation for the pushforward measure

Given a measure space $(X,\Sigma,\mu)$, a measurable space $(Y,\Xi)$ and a measurable map $f\in\Sigma/\Xi$, the pushforward measure $\nu:=\mu\circ f^{-1}$ is given by $$ \nu[A] = \mu[f^{-1}(A)] $$ ...
4
votes
0answers
175 views

Mathematical notation for formulas involving trees

I am working on document that requires me to write such things as "$T_1$ is a descendant of $T_0$", or "$N_1$ is an parent of $N_2$". For now, I've been highjacking set notation for use in formulas, ...
4
votes
0answers
220 views

Why is the Euclidean metric called the prime at infinity?

I've been studying p-adic analysis recently and after a bit of searching on the web, I haven't found an answer as to why the Euclidean metric is referred to as the 'prime at infinity', and given the ...
4
votes
0answers
66 views

What is the name of the function that indexes Grothendieck universes?

Assume Tarski-Grothendieck set theory. Then Grothendieck universes form a well-ordered proper class, so we can let $U_\alpha$ denote the $\alpha$'th Grothendieck universe, where $\alpha$ is an ordinal....
4
votes
0answers
336 views

Divisibility notation history

I'm writing a paper project for school about divisibility, so I'd like to include a bit of history about that subject. I'm mostly interested in notation of $|$ sign used in past, but everything else ...
4
votes
0answers
351 views

Is there a notation for $f(x,y) - f(y,x)$?

Suppose we have a function $f(x,y)$ in two variables. Is there an operator on the function, say, $$([]f)(x,y) = f(x,y) - f(y,x)?$$ In other words, I'm looking for a commutator in terms of function ...
4
votes
0answers
141 views

Harmonic measure or harmonic kernel

In the theory of discrete-time stochastic processes on a measurable space $(\mathscr X,\mathscr B(\mathscr X))$ one usually starts with a Markov kernel $$ P:\mathscr X\times \mathscr B(\mathscr X)\...
4
votes
0answers
270 views

Better Tensor Notation

I am in a General Relativity class, and I am finding the usual tensor notation very difficult to think about -- it seems like there are too many names to express something simple. E.g., I think of ...
4
votes
0answers
238 views

Where does the 'divides' sign come from?

When $a$ divides $b$ we say $a | b$. Where does the $|$ sign come from? This is not homework, just personal interest in the history of mathematical language.
4
votes
0answers
225 views

How did Bessel functions come to be denoted by $J_n$?

The $n$th Bessel function of the first kind is usually denoted $J_n(x)$. Where did the use of the letter $J$ to indicate the Bessel function come from?
3
votes
0answers
35 views

Is there a math notation/ term for “$f(x_n) \to 0$ iff $g(x_n) \to 0$”?

I have two real-valued functions $f,g$ defined over the $N$-dimension Real Euclidean space: $$ f,g: \mathbb{R}^N\to\mathbb{R}. $$ They satisfy this property: $$ \forall x_n \in \mathbb{R}^N: f(x_n)\to ...
3
votes
0answers
34 views

Why does (h,k) generally represent the center of a circle?

Why are h and k generally used to denote the coordinates of the center of a circle? After a bit of research, we found that h may represent "horizontal shift" or "horizontal translation", but we're ...
3
votes
0answers
32 views

Origin/history of mixed number notation with misleading hyphen, e.g. 1-1/2

So there is a system of writing mixed numbers (that is, a combination of whole number and fraction, used instead of an “improper” fraction) used in cases where typing vulgar fractions (e.g. ½) ...
3
votes
0answers
53 views

what does the bar means for an integer?

It's in arithmetic context (not complex), and it's an integer (no decimal point). The question was to find the answer of the product of 2 numbers $\overline{323}^6$ and $\overline{35}^6$, both in base ...
3
votes
0answers
82 views

Limits: “does not exist” vs “cannot be evaluated”

Assuming we have a limit which doesn't exist, i.e. $$\lim_{x\rightarrow x_0}{f(x)} \not{\exists}$$ Is the above wording and notation mathematically equivalent to saying "The limit cannot be evaluated"...
3
votes
0answers
40 views

Leibniz Notation for the Derivative of a Function

I am writing a professionally-written proof, and I have come across a bit of an issue regarding how to write the derivative of a function $H(t)$ with respect to $t$. Is $\frac{dH}{dt}$ an acceptable ...
3
votes
0answers
94 views

Tensor notation generally

I'm pretty new to tensors in differential geometry and I have a basic question about the notation used. In general a vector field $X$ can be expressed as $$X=\sum_{i=1}^n X^i \partial_i,$$ where $X^...
3
votes
0answers
28 views

Characterize in terms of fibre

I am not familiar with the notion "characterize" in the following context. Does this mean to redefine or?.... Any help would be appreciated. Thank you. For a function $f:X\to Y$, and y an element of ...
3
votes
0answers
51 views

Standard notation for indices in group theory?

I've seen three notations for indices in group theory, namely $(G:H)$, $[G:H]$ and $|G:H|$. Is there any of these notations that is standard?
3
votes
0answers
42 views

Regarding the construction of the tensor bundle

Recall the construction of the tangent bundle: we write $$TM = \bigsqcup_{p \in M}T_p M$$ and define it as the prevector bundle with local trivializations $[\gamma] \mapsto (\gamma(0), (x\gamma)'(0))$ ...
3
votes
0answers
167 views

In differential geometry, is there established notation for the stuff that $\mathbb{R}^n$ is equipped with?

Given $v,p \in \mathbb{R}^n$, I will write $T_p(v)$ for $v$ viewed as a vector based at $p$. So: $$ T_p(v) \in T_p\mathbb{R}^n$$ Question 0. Is there an accepted notation for what I'm denoting $...
3
votes
0answers
56 views

Riemannian Geometry notational tricks or alternatives

I am interested in learning tricks that people have developed to speed up / clean up calculations in Riemannian Geometry. I am hopeful about this question because there is often a lot of symmetry in ...
3
votes
0answers
59 views

Is there an established notation for this “replacement” operation?

If $S$ is a set, define $$(x \to y) \cdot S := \begin{cases} (S \setminus \{x\}) \cup \{y\} & \text{ if } x \in S \text{ and } y \not \in S; \\ S & \text{ otherwise.} \end{cases}$$ In other ...
3
votes
0answers
48 views

Interpretation of composite of random variable

Let $~f:[0,1] \to[0,\infty]$ be a measurable function bounded by $c \in \mathbb R$. Let $X_1,X_2,..,X_n \sim i.i.d ~\text{uniform}(0,1)$. How do I interpret the following statement: $$ Var(f \circ ...