What is written with ease is never read with pleasure.

-- Samuel Johnson


Writing with mathematics:

For: exercises, quizzes, exams, reports, papers, books, tutorials...everything. This class, other classes, and forever.

It's simple:

First approach: Imitate.
Here's Andres Segovia giving a guitar lesson: ``now listen and play it like I do.'' Not entirely a joke. Just look at any textbook and simply write math like it does.

Second appraoch: Intellectualize
If you can't see what the authors above are doing, it's simple. They are telling a story in prose, and with Good English sentence construction and punctuation, that happens to contain formulae, often set off on their own lines. But if you read it aloud, you get English, NOT formula, formula, formula...

Third approach: Induce.
Here are bad and good examples:
Bad: This is NOT writing mathematics:
x = logc b, y = logc a, z = loga b
cx = b = (cy)z
x = yz
z = x/y
loga b = (logc b) / (logc a), a,b,c > 0, a ≠ 1

Good: Compare Weiss, Theorem 1.1 p. 3.

Why do you care?

  1. You want others (today graders, tomorrow your readers, managers, judges, referees) to understand what the hell you're doing.
  2. Next week you go back to your work and YOU want to understand what the hell you were doing.
  3. It's the only professional style for doing the job: no other possibilities exist, sorry.
  4. You lose points for screwing this up.

173 Writing and Math Resources


Last update: 6/29/11