[SciPy-user] Docstring standards for NumPy and SciPy

Alan G Isaac aisaac at american.edu
Sat Jan 20 09:58:46 CST 2007

> Robert Kern <robert.kern at gmail.com> writes: 
>> Now, having gone that far, I'm sitting on the fence as to whether we 
>> should discourage/encourage/leave alone the idea of using the math 
>> symbols in Unicode to help display math better. 

On Sat, 20 Jan 2007, Jouni K. Seppänen apparently wrote: 
> "Unicode Nearly Plain-Text Encoding of Mathematics" by Murray 
> Sargent III may be worth considering: 
> http://unicode.org/notes/tn28/ 
> I don't know if there is yet any software support for this format, but 
> it shouldn't be too difficult to convert it to (La)TeX.  
> This format would solve the question of delimiting math expressions: 
> "U+23A8 starts a math zone and U+23AC ends it." 

First on Jouni's last comment.
Of course we can choose any characters we want to delimit 
a *certain kind* of math zone.  If this proposal were 
adopted, it would be fairly natural to follow its choices.
We would still need to decide how to delimit other kinds of
math zones.

Next a couple comments on the proposal, which I confess to 
have read very quickly
- the document was written in Word and as far as I
  can tell does not actually describe any implementation
  of the conversion from the "linear format" to the
  "built-up format". So only the "linear format" is 
  currently relevant, and IMO it is neither pretty nor 
  substantively novel.
- a more natural comparison would have been to LaTeX with 
  Unicode support, rather than ASCII LaTeX vs. a new unicode 
  proposal.  The contrast between examples would then not 
  look nearly as impressive
- I saw no discussion of Fortress!  I find that very odd in 
  the context of the proposal.  (By the way, Fortress has 
  been open sourced.)

In short, this looks like MS coming late to the party with 
ideas that are not novel, a proposal that is vapor, and 
comparisons that are not objective.  Again, this is just 
a quick reaction.

Finally, a question about Robert's core question: how many 
people will be able to read the Unicode math characters as 
they examine the docs while working at an interpreter prompt?

I am not trying to advocate for or against the use of 
Unicode math symbols.  I must say, however, that I doubt 
I will soon be able to get most Unicode math symbols into my 
docs as fast as I can type their LaTeX representations.


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