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I'm working on a constructed language that borrows concepts from existing languages. Does anyone know if there is a consolidated set of universal symbols out there? I looked at Wikipedia and I noticed that there are various symbols that mean the same thing; such as:

Logic Math Symbols: & and both mean and, but in basic math can mean multiplication or in linear algebra can mean scalar product?

Just from that example, it gets confusing and there are many others that I cannot type here. Has anyone ever tried to create a universal set of mathematical symbols to help make equations and formulas easier to interpret and learn?

EDIT: I couldn't even find a signs or symbols tag. Is there not one appropriate for use?

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  • $\begingroup$ The fact that $\cdot$ is re-used for scalar product helps you remember (or makes it easier to learn) that $\vec a\cdot (\vec b+\vec c)=\vec a\cdot \vec b+\vec a\cdot \vec c$. Not to mention that the two different uses of $+$ in that equation help as well. $\endgroup$ – Hagen von Eitzen Sep 29 '15 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate: xkcd.com/927 $\endgroup$ – Dair Sep 29 '15 at 23:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Dair - I wasn't aware that xkcd was considered a part of Math Stack Exchange, so as to make this a duplicate. But I'll mark your comment up for a very appropriate link! $\endgroup$ – Paul Sinclair Sep 29 '15 at 23:53
  • $\begingroup$ Mathematicians regularly adopt existing symbols for new objects that behave similarly to the existing object. Such as using $\cdot$ for the inner product. This is useful because there are in fact infinitely many possible product operations that could be defined. We can't invent new symbols for all of them. And anyway, it is very difficult to create new symbols and make them publishable. $\endgroup$ – Paul Sinclair Sep 29 '15 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ Also, mathematicians regularly change existing symbolry because they don't like something about it. For example, the fairly recent decision that since parentheses are so widely overused, that points should denoted with $\langle x, y, z \rangle$ instead. So now we overuse this clumsier notation which also already has another meaning in the same context (which is: the inner product again)! $\endgroup$ – Paul Sinclair Sep 30 '15 at 0:01
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The ISO has built such a list, although naturally there are disagreements since math uses a lot of domain-specific notation. See ISO 31-11, superseded by ISO 80000-2.

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