Adonis Diaries

Do you need to learn Math notation/symbols? Any good reasons?

Posted on: May 9, 2022

Joshua Reingold

Nov 18, 2021

A professor teaching a lecture.
Photo by Tra Nguyen on Unsplash

People might associate Mathematics with numbers being combined together to perform operations with an output.

These numbers might even be raised to a power or have some other symbols thrown in to set rules for these computations. E.G.

1*2 = 2
2² + 6 = 10
2 * (2 + 3) = 10

Even at the higher level (such as Calculus), one adds a few symbols but a lot of the time they’re performing mathematical operations with numbers.

This is not always the case for higher level and abstract mathematics that an individual would encounter if they were trying to get a degree in Math.

When an individual studies higher level Mathematics, they are more interested in studying concepts from an abstract level and proving theorems that will apply under all set of circumstances; or disproving a theorem that doesn’t apply for only one scenario.

As they perform these different computations, their equations will not always look like the equations in lower level math courses. E.G.

  • Numbers might be replaced by letters
  • Functions might have some strange symbol outside of their Parentheses

This is because Math is written in its own language unique to itself.

Just to provide some examples, these are just a few mathematical symbols (pertaining to the criteria of equations) that have a meaning that could be described in the English language.

Photo Credit From Microsoft Word

Although these could be substituted by sentences, a lot of Mathematicians will use these instead. Ultimately I think that there are two benefits to potentially using some of the symbols from the language of Math.

1. Shorter Equations

The first one is pretty simple. Someone can make their case with fewer characters and using Mathematical Symbols just might describe them more succinctly.

This will sound somewhat trivial but if an individual wished to turn in homework, they might be inclined to use as little paper as possible. (Using Mathematical logic will decrease the amount of space on a paper that an individual will have to use for a problem.)

(Could we shorten our novella/non-math articles by adopting math symbols if targeting math aficionados?)

Also this will probably make solving huge equations slightly more manageable.

2. Additional Way To Think

The other reason is that an individual could perhaps train themselves to think more analytically by using the mathematical symbols of language.

At first glance this might sound like junk science, but I would venture to say that our patterns and behaviors are at least partially shaped by our language.

(Why Not adopting a few simple hieroglyphs or cuneiform characters that extend the same meaning for a long expression and thus to become a universal language?)

A wall of Chinese Characters.
Photo by Isaac Chou on Unsplash

There is an almost century old hypothesis called the Sapir Whorf Hypothesis where it is hypothesized that a great deal of our outlook is based on our languages and dialects.

I might not have taken this seriously until I spoke to a Chinese exchange student who stated that the English Language over the Chinese Language was more suited for Programming because English better describes the nature of binary (On or Off). (This Chinese student is sucking up to you. A ridiculous reason that cannot stand for just an ON/Off)

It is always possible that we could be better prepared to understand math (and even be able to think more analytically in general) if we actually solved equations while using Math’s specific dialect.

Learning how to understand Mathematical symbols might seem annoying or trivial, but I think that it is a small act that might go a ways.

(We need a detailed comprehensive article on most Math symbols with an elaborate explanation for their meaning and widespread applications)

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