There exist non-unit symbols, Prof. Johnstone!

I appreciate your love affair with big honking vertical pipes, but so far you have used ‘1’, occasionally in slightly different fonts, in one lecture, to represent:[list=1][li]An identity morphism (which may or may not be a functor)[/li][li]An identity functor (which may or may not be a morphism)[/li][li]A point set[/li][li]A terminal object (which may turn out to be a point set)[/li][li]The open point of Sterpinski space.[/li][/list=1]What was in your mind when, having four uses of ‘1’ already, you chose it to represent an arbitrary point in a space? WITH THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF ‘=’ or ‘{’ WHAT SYMBOL COULD POSSIBLY BE MORE FREAKING CONFUSING?

We apologise for the geekiness of this rant. Stay tuned for ‘When we said stop writing n like m and m like rm, we didn’t mean write both as m’ and ‘Actually, no I don’t find that obvious.’

It’s “As you can see it’s intuitively obvious”. Damn it, pay attention.

Well, excuse me. Maybe that’s clear to you, but it isn’t to me, and I don’t like being ridiculed for my ignorance like that!

BTW, the lecture is now, update to rant later…

Oh, man…developing a “blackboard handwriting” is hard, but if this professor can’t distinguish n’s from m’s then you’re in real trouble. 'Cause that’s the easy part of writing on a blackboard. The hard part is writing in such a way that you can distinguish the t’s from the taus and the +'s, the x’s from the chis from the “times”, the v’s from the u’s from the “union” symbols from the mus, the i’s from the iotas, the e’s from the epsilons from the “element of” symbols, etc., etc…

And on a completely different note, when I was an undergrad one of my professors was in the habit of responding to questions with “Is trivial. Heh heh heh.”

He was fairly good at everything else, it was just 'n’s and 'm’s. The unfortunate thing was that he was lecturing an analysis course, and used hundreds of each every lecture.

To begin with they were definately different symbols, it’s just that your brain has difficulty parsing m and rm differently.

Think he was building up to going ‘Mwhaahahaha’?

I found that you can get a pretty good idea of how good a lecturer a math professor is by counting his TOES (Trivial, Obvious, Easy, Simple). If he’s got a lot of TOES early on in the class, you’re in trouble.

Heh. Let’s talk poorly distinguished blackboard IPA phonetics symbols.

“Is that an o or a turned c?”
“Is that a w or a turned m?”

and so forth. IPA should really not be reproduced on any medium that doesn’t have access to, at the minimum, Lucida Sans Unicode.

My variation on this theme was a professor in a graduate level math course for Chemical Engineers whose writing was fine, but his pronunciation was terrible. (And for the record, while I have had professors whose native language was something other than english, this was not one of them). The problem we had was that he wanted to pronounce things that looked different and meant different things all the same. For example, a small d for a derivative and a del? for a partial deriviative (It’s kind of like a backwards 6) were both dee. And x and X and the greek letter that looked similar- chi maybe?, were all the same, (though that one may have involved z instead and).
All I know is that taking notes is generally easier if one can write down what a professor is saying and look up to correct spelling and format, and not have to constantly switch between looking at the board and looking at your notes because the professor is incapable of audibly letting you know which kind of derivative or which variable he is using.

My physics prof, who’s one of the coolest guys in the world (we have a DVD lending thing going on; I have his seasons 1-2 of Buffy and he has my Run Lola Run and another movie), could be so frustrating with things like this. He was pretty good with “t” and “tau” or “x” with multiplication, but when we had “w” and “omega”… oi. I can’t count how many times I had to turn to my friend behind me and he’d whisper, “omega” or “w” before I even asked.

I’ve completely abandoned “m” in my notes, and now exculsively write m as rm [cursive, 3 humps] and n as n [print]. But that doesn’t help for reading someone else’s blackboard writing.

We had a physics professor [who was generally wonderful] who had a habit of refering to most greek letters on the blackboard as “theta”.

I must say that math’s made me re-invent my handwriting - I’d abandoned cursive capital letters somewhere in high school. But no, we need both print and script capital letters…

A friend was telling me about the professor he had for complex analysis who had a blackboard symbol that could be any of z, 2, [symbol]i[/symbol], [symbol]h[/symbol], or n. I think that’s about as bad as it gets.

I got one of my math assignments back the other day. The marker had taken three marks off of a five mark question. His reason?

What was he trying to say?

Consider the case when x < 0: ln(x) DNE!

It took me a month to figure that out, so I lost marks on a similar question on my midterm.

Cripes, I hear you there. My profs have pretty good handwriting, and still we get to play the game of, “Glottal stop or question mark?” “Velar or uvular voiceless fricative?” “g or engma?” and so on.

– Dragonblink, Hapless Linguistics Major Extraordinaire

Some Indian grad students I used to know would always pronounce the partial derivative sign “doe”. It really is a good idea that ought to catch on.

I had a lecturer of indeterminate Asian origin who would pronounce “derivative of x” as “dirt x”. That I could have done without.

I like it.

Though most of the time you can tell from context of course (if there’s any other free variables, ‘curly d’, else ‘d’). It’s been so long since I used either I nearly forgot when it would be confusing, which would have been embarassing (consider f(x,y(x))).

“The rest of this proof shall be left as an exercise for the reader.”

In other words, “No, I don’t know why. Maybe one of you bright bulbs can figure it out for me.”

One of the things I like about this place is that a geeky discussion like this really isn’t that unusual.

Had one professor in grad school, who was obviously very new to her craft at the time, who went too far the other way, and didn’t know when to leave off proving every last little sub-case that was just the same as another one she’d just proved, but with one little thing changed. The first time she used the “rest of this proof shall be left as an exercise for the reader” phrase, it was all a bunch of us could do to keep from cheering.

OTOH, I certainly had a couple of profs along the way who displayed their TOES at a point when the whole class hadn’t a clue what was going on.