To

a large extent mathematics has to do with elaborate typography. Many

youngsters have been attracted over the centuries to maths because they

wanted to understand the meaning of these beautiful pages filled with

integrals, partial derivatives and other bizarre hieroglyphs. But now we

have come to the point that this obsession for symbols is working

against mathematics…

Have you ever wondered why there are so

few mathematics-pages on the net compared to computer-science pages

(apart from the fact that a lot more exiting things are happening in

web-technology these days than in mathematics), why forums dedicated to

math-problems never get off the ground (apart from boring housework

sites) or why it is so seldom that you discuss serious math with

colleagues or students via emails (apart from the fact that more and

more mathematicians seem to turn off their sharing mode) ???

One of the reasons might be that our default way of writing and

communicating math (LaTeX) is incompatible with either HTML or email

(and for those of you who think that LaTeX2HTML or

tth or similar programs offer an alternative, just

try to make an attractive looking website with them and prove me

wrong).

If we want mathematics to survive and flourish (and

whether you like it or not that may depend heavily on its

*web-visibility*) it is high time to develop some

**ascii-math**, that is, a way to write mathematical formulas in

plain typewriter symbols. This cannot be totally impossible as

programming languages are capable of defining a large number of

complicated objects with ascii and for those of you who discard the idea

on *beauty-reasons*, I never found a piece of code in a computer

book particularly ugly.

Of course I realise that not too many

people will be willing to make this paradigm-shift right now, but can we

at least ask of people introducing new symbols to add as an appendix to

their paper a suggestion for the transition to **ascii-symbols** for

those who value the net and/or sharing more than they do. Thank

you!

# ASCII math

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