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Re: I think Omitting the multiplication sign is a big mistake

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg120222] Re: I think Omitting the multiplication sign is a big mistake
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at math.umass.edu>
  • Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 05:20:34 -0400 (EDT)

That's a wonderful example illustrating the difficulties of traditional 
mathematical notation, the sort of thing that makes one appreciate why 
so many students don't understand it. The fact that traditional math 
notation was designed to handle single-letter variables with aplomb 
makes thing even more confusing when students have to deal with 
multi-character variables.

A couple of programming languages have built on, among other things, the 
principle that every operation must be explicitly indicated with a 
symbol (so no space and no juxtaposition to denote multiplication). Such 
of those languages that I know (APL and J) also abandon any hierarchy of 
operators of the same kind, e.g., no precedence of multiplication over 
addition (but they impose a different kind of precedence among 
"functions" and "operators" or, as Ken Iverson later preferred to call 
them, "verbs" and "adverbs" and "conjunctions").


On 7/13/11 3:11 AM, a boy wrote:
> In philosophical sense, to omit the multiplication sign is incorrect.
> Space-key or null is always describe the place of objects.
> A little student may think a(b+c)=ab+ac ==>  2(3+4)=23+24 ?
> In Mathematica, array[[n]]  puzzled almost all of new ones who never
> used the software.
>

-- 
Murray Eisenberg                     murray at math.umass.edu
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305


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