For several weeks I've noticed a trend where asterisks are being used in equations, formulae or mathematical expressions to indicate multiplication, when they are not required. It's as if equations and formulae are being treated as if they are variable assignments in quasi computer programs/code.

The latest I saw was for the question, Mathematical model of an hydraulic jack, where one of the answers had,

$volume \ = \ \pi*r^2 \ * \ height$

In a text book such an equation would appear as,

$volume \ = \ \pi r^2h$; $\ \ \ \ \ \ $ where $h\ is\ height$

Should the use of asterisks in equations be encouraged or discouraged?


1 Answer 1


I think people are simply used to writing it elsewhere in life (i.e Excel or any programming language). Or they simply aren't fluent in symbolic math (as demonstrated in your example where they use $r$ for radius but also $height$ and $volume$). Or they were simply distracted.

Personally, I don't think we should have an official stance on asterisks in equations. It's perfectly clear what the answerer meant, there is no ambiguity and the post would not (in my opinion) be meaningfully improved by making an edit.


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