# Definition talk:Divisor (Algebra)/Notation

Honestly, I have never seen the notation $m\backslash n$, and in contrast to what this 30-year old citation claims, the growing tendency is no more, if it ever existed at all. Wikipedia does not even mention it, and nobody at e.g. math.stackexchange.com uses it. Really, we should stay with `\mid`

--barto (talk) 18:41, 3 December 2016 (EST)

- Why "should" we? Can't reach your link to StackExchange, btw. The fact that nobody uses it there is more an indictment of them than us. --prime mover (talk) 18:45, 3 December 2016 (EST)

- I just thought it makes this site much more attractive (mathematicians around the world will feel more at home). The more we are compatible with the majority of existing LaTeX formulas the easier it becomes to transcribe formulas, and to integrate as a new user. And I personally don't feel much like writing
`\mathrel \backslash`

every time, which is much longer than`\mid`

. If you decide to keep '\' nonetheless, you may want to define a command for`\mathrel \backslash`

so that future changes will not require editing all instances. --barto (talk) 19:05, 3 December 2016 (EST)

- I just thought it makes this site much more attractive (mathematicians around the world will feel more at home). The more we are compatible with the majority of existing LaTeX formulas the easier it becomes to transcribe formulas, and to integrate as a new user. And I personally don't feel much like writing

- We gave up appealing to mathematicians around the world many years ago. We have never had much respect from the mathematics community, and the only reviews I have ever found out there are negative, as is to be expected. So changing minor aspects of our notation conventions in order to please some arbitrary crowd who barely notice us seems to me a little futile.

- We have in the past considered implementing such shortcut commands as you suggest, but the people most vocal about insisting that they be implemented were the ones least prepared to go ahead and do the work to achieve it.

- I direct you towards this FAQ, where, as you see, the question has already been raised.

- You are more than welcome to write whatever pages you like using whatever notational conventions you want, but in the latter case those pages will be changed, in due course, to adhere to our house style. In any case, please do not be put off working with us to improve the site in whatever capability you see fit to offer. --prime mover (talk) 02:45, 4 December 2016 (EST)

I have to agree with the original poster here. I have never seen this notation either. If this site wants to claim this is "a growing trend" then in my opinion there should be a reference for this statement. (Any book, article or website apart from proofwiki published in 2018 using this notation and not written by Graham et al. should do.)

- Well it
*was*a growing trend, but the voices of freedom and enlightenment throughout the world have since been exterminated. --prime mover (talk) 08:06, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

Since there is (now?) a divides command, I assume it should be relatively straightforward to redefine it, and have all pages change instantly.

I am very sorry to hear that you gave up on appealing to mathematicians. Since I am one, let me tell you that I love this site! And I am not the only one: https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/2183803/is-proofwiki-org-a-reliable-source-of-math-proofs I especially love it that all required results are links to their proofs.

- You're in the minority, all the reviews of this site I've seen are unanimous in their declaration that it's a bit rubbish. As a result I have never bothered trying to appeal to the majority, as it is clear it is pointless. A bit like life, then, in that respect. --prime mover (talk) 08:06, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

- Could you please provide a reference? Certainly the text above is mostly positive, and I cannot find *any* negative review online. I really think people in the past might have overlooked this is a work in progress. I just found http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-767/paper-10.pdf which has some statistics for 2011. It is clear that the site has grown tremendously since then, just from the number of proofs and definitions. I am sure that much of the criticism is outdated. Robsiegen (talk) 08:38, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

- I can't find any now. No reviews at all. --prime mover (talk) 16:31, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

Your bad experience in this regard may be because this site was understandably less complete in the past. This may have put off many people looking for proofs including all the details and proofs of needed other results. I suspect that your site has expanded and improved quite a bit since those days.

Regarding your question of why we should change notation, I guess that depends on who we think our audience is. The most obvious audience I can think of is undergraduate and graduate mathematics students, as well as students in other disciplines who need to pass some maths courses. I would expect these to be the majority of readers.

- We
*have*no audience. --prime mover (talk) 08:06, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

- Come now, you are way too hard on yourself / this website. How do you think I got here? Looking for proofs on the internet will often lead you to proofwiki - this is how I found this site! Already back in 2011 you had 90k pageviews in a month (see link above). That is not nothing. Robsiegen (talk) 08:38, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

However almost regardless of this, I am convinced that the number of people who come to this site AND are familiar with the notation \ for divisor is vanishingly small. I therefore believe that this notation will confuse almost any potential reader of this site. This seems to me a good reason to change it. Robsiegen (talk) 03:41, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

- The idea is that any notation used on any page should be explained on that page, by means of a link to the source page where it is defined: "where $a \divides b$ denotes the relation that $a$ is a divisor of $b$." This rarely happens. --prime mover (talk) 08:06, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

- I understand the idea behind this, but I can also understand why it is not happening (too much work). But this is just another argument in favor of using the standard notation |. Then at least people have a chance of understanding it.

- You'd think so, but a link containing nothing but $\LaTeX$ does not allow you to right-click and open in new tab, because right-click opens the $\LaTeX$ itself. You can only go to the page by clicking on it and navigating there, by which time you've lost the place of where you came from. Hence the house rule which suggests that all notation is to be explained. As you say, this fundamental guiding principle is complete rubbish because nobody can be bothered to do that small thing. As I say, the entire concept is utterly pointless. --prime mover (talk) 09:57, 11 September 2018 (EDT)

My 2 cents: Since a mathematical reader is very acquainted with the experience of an unknown symbol, it is reasonable to assume that they will look for an explanation. This is to be found in the explaining line that PM mentioned. In this case, I support leading by example and de-overloading $\vert$ in favour of $\divides$.

The solution is to fix any and all occurrences where the explanation is missing. — Lord_Farin (talk) 12:31, 11 September 2018 (EDT)