Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Attempting math literacy

  1. Mar 3, 2005 #1
    attempting math litearcy

    I have decided to attempt to become literate in the language of math and I am doing so by a solo effort in a world of words provided to me by various sources. All I am reading makes sense so far but I would greatly appreciate some aid in translating the idea that multiplication involving
    a coefficient and one or more variables or constants is expressed by writing
    the coefficient followed by the variables or constants with no symbols in
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2005 #2
    I'm not sure what you mean. Write this out using mathematical symbols. Do you mean the convention that a*b where * is some operation similar to multiplication is usually written ab ? This is just notation and doesn't affect or effect any mathematical properties.
  4. Mar 3, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Do you mean like "abc", a(b+c) where the multiplication sign has been suppressed?
  5. Mar 3, 2005 #4
    I am uncertain as to what you refer to when you speak of "the convention" and I am uncertain as to what exactly falls under the properties of "notation."
  6. Mar 3, 2005 #5
    I mean like abc where a is a specific number, b is a specific quantity represented by some form of notation and c is an expression that stands for numbers.
  7. Mar 3, 2005 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    you mean juxtaposition where 'a x b' ("a times b") is simply written as 'ab'?

    When denoting multplicatin by a coefficient, it is usal to denote the muplication by juxtapostion where the coefficient precedes the object it belongs to.
  8. Mar 3, 2005 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Writing everything out in "a world of words" is NOT what is meant by "math literacy"!
  9. Mar 3, 2005 #8
    Are you refering to the "world of words" I spoke of in the first entry I made in this post? If so by that I was speaking of the "world of words" present in the volumes I am reading which include the subject of mathematical reasoning and application. Are you suggesting that math can be learned without words?

    NO, I am suggesting that math cannot be learned ONLY with words!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2005
  10. Mar 3, 2005 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    A convention is just a customary practice; the way most people usually do something, especially if it isn't an "official" rule.
    "Notation" refers to the group of symbols, how they're used, and their intended meanings. For example, addition is usually represented by "+" and written between the numbers to be added, for example, "1 + 2". Using another notation, "1 + 2" may be written as "+(1, 2)" or "add(1, 2)" and so on. The notation doesn't really matter- though it's crucial that you know what the notation means.
  11. Mar 4, 2005 #10
    Yes, though it isn't *technically* necessary, convention is very important. Sure, you could decide that the sine function's symbol should be $(x), and that the cosine function's symbol should be ©(x), and as long as you were consistent, it wouldn't matter. However, a problem would arise when you are trying to communicate it to another person, as they would have no idea what $(x) and ©(x) are. It's better for mathematicians to agree on a convention, or else it would be nearly impossible to share information.

    (Hmm...I really like my symbols for sin and cos. What's especially nice is that they're already in ASCII, and that the correct letters are part of the symbol (s and c). You know what, I'm going to start using the $(x) and ©(x) functions as such. :) )
  12. Mar 5, 2005 #11
    Certain things are convention such as aXb for a times b being simply written as ab. This is especially true with polynominals: [tex]5X^5 +7X^3 +20 [/tex]

    I am surprised that any book would bother with that, particularly without examples. But it ain't always so you know. My calculator has been known, I think, and it is certainly true with computer program Pari that it wants the times symbol* in there, or else it will simply not work!

    *And the times symbol is found by using capital 8, such as at the beginning of the above line.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2005
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook