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When using \times after some wide symbol, the space following \times becomes smaller than wanted. For example

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{mathtools}

\begin{document}
\begin{align*}
> \times T \\
) \times T  \\
> \times \ T
\end{align*}
\end{document}

produces

What can be done to correct this problem (other than manually inserting additional space)?

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4  
As noted in the answers the > disables the binop spacing of \times But in your real example do you really have a > there? If it is an angle bracket it should be \langle which looks different and has the correct spacing. –  David Carlisle Apr 10 at 10:03
    
Welcome to TeX.SE! –  Mico Apr 10 at 10:04
    
In my example I really have a triple <a,b,c> which looks better (at least for me) when using < instead of \langle. Both answers of ChrisS and fpast are good solutions to the problem –  Thomas Apr 10 at 10:08
    
@Thomas Then I would create a command like \angles which would automatically insert \mathopen< #1 \mathclose>. In that case you save a few keystrokes and, what is more important, you can later change the appearance of all the triplets. –  Manuel Apr 10 at 10:35

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

< and > are relational operators ("less than" and "greater than"). They can be used as delimiters, but TeX needs to know it (the traditional way with \langle and \rangle are added for comparison):

\documentclass{article}
\begin{document}
\[
  \mathopen< a, b, c \mathclose> \times T
  = \langle a, b, c \rangle \times T
\]
\end{document}

Result

Binary math atoms are the only math atoms that can change their status. The context must fit, two operands must be present to keep the binary function of the math atom.

The binary symbol \times becomes an ordinary math atom between > (\mathrel) and T (\mathord), because the left operand is missing.

\times remains binary between a \mathclose and \mathord.

PS: Another disadvantage of < and > being used as delimiters is that they do no resize properly. \left< and \right> are using \langle and \rangle that can resize according to the formula. Larger versions of < and > do not make much sense, because they would need to much space horizontally.

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This occurs because both > and \times are binary operators. If you use

\mathord> \times T

the > will not be treated as a binary operator, and the spacing will be as you desire.

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2  
More precise: Only \times is a binary operator (\mathbin). > is a relational operator (\mathrel). The binary operator does not have an operand on its left side. Therefore TeX makes it an ordinary math atom ("unary" operator). Common use case is a negative number after the equals sign: ... = -42 ... –  Heiko Oberdiek Apr 10 at 10:07
    
Thank you very much for clarifying this! –  Thomas Apr 10 at 10:21

You may also put the binary operator > between braces:

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{mathtools}

\begin{document}
\[
  {>} \times T
\]
\end{document}

enter image description here

Edit. Sorry, > is in fact a relational operator, as Heiko Oberdiek noticed. Putting it into a pair of braces makes the binary operator \times consider it as an operand, and so there is proper spacing after it.

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1  
Yes, the curly braces of {>} do make subformula that is treated as ordinary math atom for TeX. Thus it's short for \mathord{>}. –  Heiko Oberdiek Apr 10 at 10:16

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