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Is gather* with one line of math equivalent to displaymath?

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Does this question regarding difference between displaymath and equation environments answer your question? –  Peter Grill Nov 2 '11 at 19:14
    
By "equivalent", do you mean in terms of spacing and alignment (both vertical and horizontal)? –  Werner Nov 2 '11 at 19:24
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2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

No, it is not: the vertical spaces before and after the display are different.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\begin{document}
\noindent Text
\begin{gather*}
  a=b
\end{gather*}
Text
\begin{displaymath}
  a=b
\end{displaymath}
Text
\end{document}

enter image description here

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Also, if you have a very long equation in a \[...\], the space between the binary operators (like + and \times) will shrink to make the equation break the margin as little as possible (as happens with an equation in an ordinary paragraph; I'm assuming you're using Computer Modern fonts here). This space never shrinks inside a \begin...\end{gather*}.

This space also shrinks when necessary in an equation in \begin...\end{equation}, and never in an equation in \begin...\end{gather}.

By the way, very old versions of amsmath did define \[...\] and \begin...\end{equation} as a one-line \begin...\end{gather*} and \begin...\end{gather}, respectively. See "Changes in amsmath 2.0" here. The first edition (1994) of The LaTeX Companion is no longer correct about \[...\] and \begin...\end{equation} (see page 243).

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