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Is it possible to define

\newcommand{\√}[1]{\sqrt{#1}}

as commands like this one would sometimes be easier to use.

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1  
Which engine do you use? This is awkward in pdfTeX, but easy enough with a UTF-8 engine. –  Joseph Wright Sep 10 '11 at 14:21
    
i guess you mean something like luatex with a utf-8 engine, i'm using pdflatex. –  epsilonhalbe Sep 10 '11 at 15:06
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1 Answer

up vote 16 down vote accepted

If there were no argument to the macro, this would be just a matter of loading the newunicodechar package or using the \DeclareUnicodeCharacter macro. For the "character" to accept arguments, a slightly different approach is needed.

If you use XeTeX or LuaTeX, you can use either of

\catcode`\√=\active
\newcommand{√}[1]{\sqrt{#1}}
…
$√{2}$

or

\newcommand{\√}[1]{\sqrt{#1}}
…
$\√{2}$

(The second approach is more robust.)

With pdfTeX the \√ syntax will not work because of the way pdfTeX handles input (it is theoretically possible to achieve this, though). This leaves the only way (taken and modified from newunicodechar documentation):

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}

\expandafter\newcommand\csname u8:\detokenize{√}\endcsname[1]{%
  \sqrt{#1}}

\begin{document}

$√{2}$

\end{document}
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thanks - curiously with luatex characters like '⟨','⟩' don't work well but otherwise - it is great. Definitely something i should have a look at. till now i've worked with pdflatex –  epsilonhalbe Sep 10 '11 at 15:04
    
@epsilonhalbe: \newunicodechar{⟨}{\langle} \newunicodechar{⟩}{\rangle} works for me in LuaTeX and TeX Live 2011. –  Andrey Vihrov Sep 10 '11 at 15:13
    
ah thanks - most definitely should look at LuaTeX - should i watch something when migrating from pdfTeX, are there any complications/breaking points - looking through 20 pages for errors would be gruesome. –  epsilonhalbe Sep 10 '11 at 15:28
3  
@epsilonhalbe: See these questions: one two three –  Andrey Vihrov Sep 10 '11 at 16:08
    
the move to LuaLaTeX was the best thing TeXrelated I did in the last few months - thanks again. –  epsilonhalbe Dec 21 '11 at 0:56
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