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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2020

16. Symbolic notation in scientific communication: a panorama

Thomas Gloning


In different branches of scientific communication forms of symbolic notation play an important role, e. g. in mathematics, symbolic logic, chemistry, physics, linguistics, astronomy, etc. as well as in some of their historical predecessors like alchemy. This chapter provides an overview of some of the major forms, communicative practices and epistemic functions of systems of symbolic notation, their elements and their uses. The chapter also provides an outlook on aspects of the intertwining of elements of symbolic notation with natural language texts, forms of visualization and diagrammatic devices. In addition, it is shown how the idea of symbolic notation relates to other notions like scientific rigor, formalization, computability and the idea of an ideal language. Further perspectives include desiderata like the use of scientific symbolism in popular science contributions.

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