# Re: Have we reached the asymptotic plateau of innovation in programming la

## Hans Aberg <haberg-news@telia.com>

Tue, 13 Mar 2012 00:10:46 +0100

*From comp.compilers*

| List of all articles for this month |

**From: ** | Hans Aberg <haberg-news@telia.com> |

**Newsgroups: ** | comp.compilers |

**Date: ** | Tue, 13 Mar 2012 00:10:46 +0100 |

**Organization: ** | A noiseless patient Spider |

**References: ** | 12-03-019 12-03-026 |

**Keywords: ** | design, history |

**Posted-Date: ** | 14 Mar 2012 00:27:44 EDT |

On 2012/03/12 06:49, glen herrmannsfeldt wrote:

*> As I understand it, Fortran introduced the multi-character variable*

*> name, pretty much universal in programming languages, but*

*> mathematicians haven't caught on yet.*

Math started out with sentences like "add the first unknown quantity to

the second unknown quantity", but over the centuries, it was eventually

shortened to expressions like "x + y".

So computing takes a step back in evolution, in part due to a limited

character set. But that is slowly changing in view of Unicode and STIX

fonts, which are already in use in proof assistants, for example, Isabelle.

Otherwise, there are a lot of multi-character symbols in use in math,

for example, standard functions. Users of TeX know that these are

typeset tighter than the corresponding variables. So $sin$ will be

typeset as three variables with extra space between them indicating

implicit multiplication, whereas to get the function name one would have

to use $\sin$.

Hans

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