Interesting Esoterica

The Handbook of Mathematical Discourse

Book by Charles Wells
  • Published in 2003
  • Added on
This handbook is an intensive description of many aspects of the vocabulary and forms of the English language used to communicate mathematics. It is designed to be read and consulted by anyone who teaches or writes about mathematics, as a guide to what possible meanings the students or readers will extract (or fail to extract) from what is said or written. Students should also find it useful, especially upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students studying subjects that make substantial use of mathematical reasoning. This handbook is written from a personal point of view by a mathematician. I have been particularly interested in and observant of the use of language from before the time I knew abstract mathematics existed, and I have taught mathematics for 37 years. During most of that time I kept a file of notes on language usages that students find difficult. Many of those observations may be found in this volume. However, a much larger part of this dictionary is based on the works of others (acknowledged in the individual entries), and the reports of usage are based, incompletely in this early version, citations from the literature. Someday, I hope, there will be a complete dictionary based on extensive scientific observation of written and spoken mathematical English, created by a collaborative team of mathematicians, linguists and lexicographers. This handbook points the way to such an endeavor. However, its primary reason for being is to provide information about the language to instructors and students that will make it easier for them to explain, learn and use mathematics. The earliest dictionaries of the English language listed only "difficult" words. Dictionaries such as Dr. Johnson's that attempted completeness came later. This handbook is more like the earlier dictionaries, with a focus on usages that cause problems for those who are just beginning to learn how to do abstract mathematics.

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BibTeX entry

@book{TheHandbookofMathematicalDiscourse,
	title = {The Handbook of Mathematical Discourse},
	author = {Charles Wells},
	url = {http://case.edu/artsci/math/wells/pub/html/abouthbk.html http://www.cwru.edu/artsci/math/wells/pub/pdf/hyperhbk.pdf},
	urldate = {2017-06-19},
	abstract = {This handbook is an intensive description of many aspects of the vocabulary and forms of the English language used to communicate mathematics. It is designed to be read and consulted by anyone who teaches or writes about mathematics, as a guide to what possible meanings the students or readers will extract (or fail to extract) from what is said or written. Students should also find it useful, especially upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students studying subjects that make substantial use of mathematical reasoning.

This handbook is written from a personal point of view by a mathematician. I have been particularly interested in and observant of the use of language from before the time I knew abstract mathematics existed, and I have taught mathematics for 37 years. During most of that time I kept a file of notes on language usages that students find difficult. Many of those observations may be found in this volume. However, a much larger part of this dictionary is based on the works of others (acknowledged in the individual entries), and the reports of usage are based, incompletely in this early version, citations from the literature.

Someday, I hope, there will be a complete dictionary based on extensive scientific observation of written and spoken mathematical English, created by a collaborative team of mathematicians, linguists and lexicographers. This handbook points the way to such an endeavor. However, its primary reason for being is to provide information about the language to instructors and students that will make it easier for them to explain, learn and use mathematics.

The earliest dictionaries of the English language listed only "difficult" words. Dictionaries such as Dr. Johnson's that attempted completeness came later. This handbook is more like the earlier dictionaries, with a focus on usages that cause problems for those who are just beginning to learn how to do abstract mathematics.},
	comment = {},
	year = 2003,
	collections = {notation-and-conventions,the-act-of-doing-maths}
}