My suggestions for Unicode based math expression format(s)

William_J_G Overington wjgo_10009 at
Tue Dec 27 03:11:01 CST 2022


I have never used the various existing packages that have been 

May I make three observations please?

1. I consider that using control codes to specify layout is a problem. A 
way to express things without using control codes is needed.

2. Would a test be that what one wants to typeset can be typeset in 
Microsoft WordPad? One might need to copy and paste characters from a 
WordPad file that has one of each character in it, as if it were a 
typecase. For the avoidance of doubt I am not suggesting that all 
typesetting should be done in WordPad, not at all, but I am saying that 
if it cannot be typeset in WordPad then a format may be too complicated 
or too expensive or too inaccessible for widespread use.

3. Back in the early 1990s I was involved in a discussion of how to 
express mathematical equations using just 7-bit ASCII characters in a 
monospaced display typical of mainframe visual display units terminals 
at the time.

Some of my suggestions might be relevant here.

I suggested using :pom: to express a 'plus or minus' sign as used in the 
general solution formula for a quadratic equation. That format could be 
used for special symbols. These days, an OpenType font could cause a 
correct glyph to be displayed, even if the glyph is not a regular 
Unicode character.

I suggested that an integral be expressed using three capital I letters, 
one above the other in three lines of text.


that then allows upper and lower limits to be expressed for definite 

For example

I t=1
I exp(-t).dt
I t=0

Then summation could be expressed as follows.

S n=5
S n^2
S n=1

and product similarly using three P characters.


This system could be used to some extent immediately without any 
additional software being needed. An OpenType font could be used to 
substitute a 'plus or minus' sign for :pom: and for other symbols. 
Hopefully software could be written to substitute the three capital I 
letters with a single integral sign.

I hope this helps.

Best regards,

William Overington

Tuesday 27 December 2022

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