Along with other British mathematicians I am very lax about how I write the multiplication symbol. I will write
and then maintain that the context will tell the reader what is meant.
The problem comes from the fact that:
1. British students aren’t used to using the dot as a multiplication symbol – it doesn’t seem to be used in schools. They only want to use
2. The international students have never used (though it appears on their calculators which seem to be designed for the American market) and they are much more careful with the dot which must be on the centre of the line. They also are unhappy about the British habit of not worrying where the decimal point goes: or
The students love to tell me off for using the ‘wrong’ symbol on the grounds that whatever I do is wrong It makes for very interesting discussions about the international differences in mathematics and led to a wonderful note from some of the students:
- If I insist on using . for multiplication then asking them to do Q.1 on p.77 should be read as
It’s nice to leave a class with a smile on my face.
PS For many years British students have used the word ‘times’ as in times by 3 or even worse ‘timesing’. It sounds horrible to me but I seem to have lost the battle to say ‘multiply’