The international standard that defines mathematical signs and symbols, ISO 31-11, was superseded in 2009 by ISO 80000-2. What are the main changes?

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    $\begingroup$ I didn't know there was such a thing! $\endgroup$
    – abnry
    Jan 31, 2014 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ @nayrb Yeah that's pretty convenient. Unfortunately the ISO 80000-2 is behind paywall, which is a very nice way to spread a standard... $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2014 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ I won't pay 140 CHF to help decide when to write $\phi$ and when $\varphi$. And I'll keep writing $\pi$ in italics anyway cause I don't know how to avoid it $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2014 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ I can't imagine why the very idea puts my back up. Yet, it does. Perhaps it's just too 1984-ish. $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2014 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ Personally I looked for international standards for math notation when I moved from France to the US. As some notations changed, e.g. an open interval is commonly written ]a, b[ in France vs. (a, b) in the US, I started getting interested in standard notations for at least the most common concepts. $\endgroup$ Jan 31, 2014 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


So I've got the document (160 USD for 40 pages!). Here is what it says in page iv:

The first edition cancels and replaces ISO 31-11:1992, which has been technically revised. The major technical changes from the previous standard are the following:

  • Four clauses have been added, i.e. "Standard number sets and intervals", "Elementary geometry", "Combinatorics" and "Transforms".

Interestingly, it goes on saying that the standard's title "Quantities and units — Part 2: Mathematical signs and symbols to be used in the natural sciences and technology" should be renamed into "Quantities and units — Part 2: Mathematics".

Given the amount of copyright notices and other efforts to keep the standard from being diffused, I hope I don't get sued for quoting one sentence...

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    $\begingroup$ What a complete waste of money, Frank! $\endgroup$
    – Pedro
    May 31, 2014 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ I am upvoting this just because you paid that much money for the document. $\endgroup$
    – naslundx
    May 31, 2014 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, I just need to find a way to turn upvotes into USD and my investment will finally pay back :-) $\endgroup$ Jun 1, 2014 at 0:58
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand how something can become standard if it's hoarded at such an exorbitant price. $\endgroup$ Apr 8, 2019 at 6:40

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