From: Asmus Freytag (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri May 23 2003 - 00:25:18 EDT
At 06:37 PM 5/22/03 -0700, Kenneth Whistler wrote:
>The UTC had advice from some of the world's leading experts on
>mathematical publishing, and the repertoire that was chosen
>reflects their best advice. (And I can assure you, they have
>reviewed many more mathematical publications than you are likely
>to have done.)
more, in fact than most mathematiticians would ordinarily have read,
since as publishers they are equally exposed to all subdisciplines.
> > For now the set of allowed letters is restricted to a few
> > Latin or Greek letters
> > (plus standard diacritics)...
No. Not plus standard diacritics. Mathematical notation itself
gives meaning to a number of diacritics that are otherwise common
in text (e.g. diaeresis can represent the second derivative with
respect to the time variable). Therefore mathematical notation
eschews the use of accented *letters* as variables - the variables
are always the base forms.
The limitation with regards to the common base forms will thus serve
as a reminder that these are mathematical symbols that are letterlike,
but are not ordinary text.
>So in the future, Unicode will
> > probably receive requests for many other mathemetical letters
> > or digits...
> From whom? If the professional mathematicians say the current
>set is sufficient.
While Unicode's coverage of the existing practice is now fairly exhaustive,
the set of mathematical symbols (i.e. all of the units of mathematical
notation, not just the alphanumerics) is open-ended in principle.
As subdisciplines mature their notational innovations become standard,
and if they have made novel uses of shapes for which there aren't
any encoded characters, then there will be additional requests.
Many of these will be for non-letter symbols, but conceivably they
could include letterlike or digitlike symbols as well.
As Unicode (and technologies built on it, as MathML) become more
widespread, you can expect to see a feedback mechanism. It will
be far easier for any single mathematician to (re-)use an existing
Unicode character than to create an entirely new one, which could
have the result of making his or her work less portable (until
standardization catches up). Once a certain critical mass is reached
where most papers can be published without ad-hoc symbols, the
pressure to stay within the existing set is going to increase.
> > I hope Unicode will not need to redefine styled variants for
> > ALL existing letters in defined alphabets or abjads of the BMP...
I hope so to. And not only hope, but given the understanding of the
way the development of that 'script' is operating, I am fairly
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