Gresham College Lecture: Where do Mathematical Symbols Come From?
Where do we get our mathematical symbols from? Why is the set of integers called ℤ ? When was the equals sign first used? How about zero? Good notation tends to catch on quickly, whereas bad notation can obscure beautiful theory. The lecture by Professor Sarah Hart explores how the introduction of new notation has paved the way for new leaps in understanding, and considers some mathematical quirks of language, such as what the number 4 in English has in common with the number 11 in Russian.