There is however a related thing that I feel is sorely needed: a table, in whatever form, that maps the most common symbols to their meanings.
To elaborate on some issues relevant for a meaningful interpretation of this request:
- Which symbols should be documented? Only symbols with accepted usage in established fields should appear. Yes, determining the boundaries is difficult, but this doesn't mean that an effort isn't useful.
- Which symbols from the Comprehensive List are actually used? An answer to this question could be approximated by counting macro usage within published articles. Frequency information could be informative as well.
- Why is the Comprehensive List so large? Because a lot of symbols in the Comprehensive List seemed to have been generated through a process involving creative rage and obsessive completion based on symmetric considerations. I'm not saying these are bad per se, but it would be nice to know whether esoteric symbol #253 from the Comprehensive List is actually used with consistency anywhere in the math literature.
What are practical uses of such a table?
- Such a table will be useful for math symbol font designers.
- Unicode might be interested in knowing which symbols still need to be encoded.
- It is bothersome that the Comprehensive List as well as the interfaces of various equation editors inundate their users with a bunch of graphical symbols the majority of which one won't ever need, with some crucial ones being hard to find or even missing. One could prioritize the symbols in consistent, actual use by presenting them first, giving them shorter macro names, etc. Bringing a bit of order into the mess will be a good thing.
- Presenting symbols in an organized way will make it easier for package writers and users to organize and select symbols in a way that minimizes package conflicts. The incompatibility of
- Indexes (one for each field) for symbols will also make life easier for mathematicians and scientists wanting to publish in a particular field.
Are there such tables? Is the community interested in constructing such tables?