Issues with
Notation at the Interface Between Technologies
Chris Barling
cbarling@swin.edu.au
Peter Jones
pjones@swin.edu.au
Swinburne University of Technology
Australia
Abstract
Mathematics is underpinned
by the notation in which we write it. Traditional notation is not free of ambiguity,
but on the whole the conventions we use to write mathematics on paper are flexible
and visually clear. It is important, though, to view this as the product of
a particular technology. When we wish to transfer our mathematics from one technology
to another, the interface between the systems of notation becomes paramount.
The problem is highlighted particularly when students are introduced to computer
algebra systems (CAS). In this paper we highlight the differences between pencilandpaper
and electronic (linear) notation, some wellrecognized and others not, particularly
noting certain points at which students often encounter difficulties. The solution
to these problems is not intuitive or obvious, and students encountering the
interface between traditional and CAS technologies need specific intervention
to assist them in overcoming the many difficulties they encounter.
