RE: Mathematical Greek Alphanumeric Symbols

From: Hans Aberg (
Date: Tue May 31 2005 - 06:07:35 CDT

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    At 11:12 +0200 2005/05/31, Jörg Knappen wrote:
    >On Sat, 14 May 2005, Murray Sargent wrote:
    >> The STIX committee (see for
    >> references) chose the sets of mathematical alphanumerics. I agree with
    >> you that sans-serif characters in general are rarely used in
    >> mathematics, at least in the mathematics of physics.
    >I once surveyed the usage of different kinds of greek in math and physics
    >(and had a talk about this on EuroTeX 1992 in Prague). I encountered
    >italic sans serif greek letters (for tensors) in one journal, this journal
    >was >>Il nouvo cimento<<.

    Wasn't it discussed in the LaTeX List an
    engineering standard for tensors, perhaps even
    ISO? I recall that it conflicted with the usage
    in pure math. Can any tell if called for
    sans-serif tensors?

    The principle for adding math characters, though
    is that it is required for proper semantic
    expressions. I doubt pure math texts use serifs
    and sans-serif side-by-side to express semantic
    differences. I think that all the TeX fonts
    commonly used in math have serifs, and they do
    not have all the serif Greek variations that
    Unicode already has. But past practise, was
    limited by availability, so one cannot look too
    much on that.

    But one could perhaps argue that this sans-serif
    practise is used by engineers, and in some way
    makes up a different script, and therefore it
    should be there. This is a way of rationalizing
    what is already in the Unicode character set. If
    the engineers feel about it in this way, perhaps
    the Greek sans-serif plain letters should be
    added, in addition to the bold one already there.
    Then, tying it up with the above engineering
    tensor standard, it will no longer conflict with
    pure math conventions.

    I should perhaps add that I feel that the
    sans-serif forms are unnecessary for semantically
    expressing pure math (just as the monospace
    ones). So it is really a question of what others
    who may use them feel about it.

       Hans Aberg

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