Re: Too narrowly defined: DIVISION SIGN & COLON

From: Jukka K. Korpela <>
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2012 16:18:19 +0300

2012-07-12 13:33, Julian Bradfield wrote:

> On 2012-07-11, Eric Muller <> wrote:
>> When it's plain text, Unicode has the burden of solving all the
>> problems. When it's a richer system, there is the issue of cooperation
>> between the layers, a situation that Unicode cannot ignore.
> Unicode can ignore it - it's the lowest layer. It should leave the
> problems entirely to the layers above it.

Things are not that simple. There are many distinctions that can be made
at the plain text level or at some other level. Unicode gives the option
of making many distinctions that could, and usually should, be made at a
higher level. It simply gives e.g. the option of using mathematical
sans-serif letters, without saying that anyone should use them. For
example, when saving text in a database or sending text, you might be
restricted to plain text for various reasons.

> In practice, no working mathematician is going to use the mathematical
> alphanumerical symbols to write maths in (La)TeX, because it's
> fantastically inconvenient

Well, (La)TeX is a world of its own, and largely Unicode-ignorant on
purpose, though there are some signs of taking Unicode seriously there
(e.g. because many people want to be able to enter characters by their
Unicode numbers).

In general, typing characters like mathematical sans-serif letters is
awkward when using commonly used software with common keyboards and
settings. But it need not be so. It would be easy to set up a keyboard
layout where the “A” key produces mathematical sans serif a, another
layout where it produces mathematical italic a, etc. (and switching
between layouts can be simple, with keyboard shortcuts).

(I can’t imagine many situations where people would really want to
*type* such characters, but if you are working in formula mode in Word,
you might get puzzled when you need to type tensor symbols. The mode
uses Cambria Math, and it does not let you change the font in any direct
way, it seems. So the situation would really call for mathematical sans
serif letters.)

Received on Thu Jul 12 2012 - 08:20:23 CDT

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