In a paper I am presenting, a key equation contains the term $1 / floor(n/k)$, where n and k are some integers. This term is quite cumbersome, so I thought that, when I present my paper in a poster or slides, it can be better to present it approximately as just $k/n$.

My questions:

  • Is it desirable to simplify equations in this way in slides or posters?
  • What is a simple way to convey the message that the equation is not entirely accurate?
  • 3
    Why is it so cumbersome to write ⌊a/b⌋ rather than a/b? It adds very little. – gerrit Jul 5 '18 at 13:41
  • 1
    I'm having a bit of trouble with the computations here. floor(3/5) is zero. Also floor(7/5) is 1 and the reciprocal isn't likely to be 5/7 without some explanations. You may be confusing people more than helping them. However, the general advice in the answer (academia.stackexchange.com/a/112231/75368) seems sound. – Buffy Jul 5 '18 at 13:41
  • "Assume without loss of generality that n is a multiple of k." – JeffE Jul 5 '18 at 18:01
  • The problem with dumbing things down too much is you can attract hecklers who will think your cute little intuition-building model is all there is (no matter how much you emphasize that it isn't), then argue with you that your approach is too simplistic to work. Research is full of arrogant jerks just dying for opportunities to do this. In my experience, it's better to keep things accurate even if that makes it more opaque. – A Simple Algorithm Jul 5 '18 at 19:52

You can hide details without telling any lies. For example, you can replace equals signs with $\sim$ or $\approx$, and if it's a lecture, simply tell the audience that the real formula is too cumbersome to write. Posters are a little different because what you write needs to make sense without your verbal explanations, so I would err more on the side of precision.

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