Re: Why blackletter letters?

From: Neil Harris <>
Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 13:21:28 +0100

On 12/09/13 11:26, Johan Winge wrote:
> On Wed, 11 Sep 2013 20:29:51 +0200, Hans Aberg <>
> wrote:
>> ... The symbol for the empty set ∅ is originally a Greek letter phi
>> ϕ, ans some use the latter.
> According to the autobiography of André Weil, quoted at
>, the empty set symbol ∅ was
> inspired by the Scandinavian Ø, and would then have nothing to do with
> the Greek phi, except for a superficial resemblance. I'm aware that
> some mathematician indeed do use Φ/φ, supposedly due to this
> misconception and/or lacking coverage in fonts and/or carelessness,
> but I find it terribly annoying. Really, it is no more correct than
> using ß in lieu of β.
> -- Johan Winge

Do some mathematicians _really_ use Φ/φ instead of ∅, or does it just
look like they're doing so?

Careless handwriting of ∅ could indeed look like Φ or even φ, but I
doubt they're thinking "phi, the symbol for the empty set" as they do
so. TeX is universal in the typesetting of mathematics, and the symbol
is visually quite distinct from the Greek letter, which mathematicians
will also see on a daily basis: if they've ever been exposed to TeX,
they must surely have made the distinction, and just reading papers
should be enough to make the difference clear.

Received on Thu Sep 12 2013 - 07:23:20 CDT

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