In a math thesis, where do I place a variable legend, i.e. a list that indicates the "type" of each variable used, e.g.

  • x, y, z denote real numbers
  • s, t denote sets of numbers
  • f, g denote functions
  • 1
    First, I don't think that's called a legend. Second, one often has a notation section at the beginning. Have you tried looking at other papers or theses?
    – Kimball
    Aug 28 at 12:58
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    Hmm, may I ask for which reason you would like to include such a list? I know of a few articles (most of them are several decades old) where such a list is given (though in plain text rather than in list form), but in my experience this is done rarely nowadays (at least in pure maths) . Consistent nomenclature for variables is obviously a good thing, but for which reason would you like to explicitly mention it in a list, given that every variable that occurs has to be introduced at the place where it is used anyway? Aug 28 at 14:21
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    @EvanAad I've usually seen it called a "List of Symbols", but like others I'm not convinced of its usefulness for the reader.
    – Anyon
    Aug 28 at 15:08
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    I would call it a table of notation or something similar. It can go in an appendix or at the beginning of the thesis or anywhere else where you think it makes sense to put such a table (say, at the end of each chapter to summarize the notation used in that chapter). There is no standard place where it should go. Such tables are also not very common, but I have used them in some of my longer papers and find them quite useful. I’d recommend including one, but with more of a focus on the meaning of specific symbols rather than generic classes of symbols that denote real numbers, variables etc.
    – Dan Romik
    Aug 28 at 18:06
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    The text in your edit would be better placed as a meta question. That is the place to discuss and resolve such disputes.
    – GoodDeeds
    Aug 30 at 15:39

A commentator knows such a list as "List of Symbols", other names are "Mathematical notation", "Notational conventions", "Mathematical symbols", and permutations thereof. (Note that this is sometimes not a list but a text describing the notation.)

I just checked a few textbooks and found placement right before and after the table of contents, and as the first appendix. While I would prefer putting it right before the main text, it's really up to you.

  • I'm under the impression that "mathematical notation", "notational conventions", and so on, typically refer to the definition of symbols that have a fixed meaning throughout the text, whereas the OP refers to notational convention for variables. Aug 28 at 15:44
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    I can't see why that wouldn't be a notational convention? Your comment even includes the term.
    – cheersmate
    Aug 28 at 18:12
  • Oops, you're right, of course; I'm not quite sure what I was thinking... But I guess what I actually intended to say is: In a comment the OP suggests that they might list definitions of symbols in a glossary of symbols - so, given the question, I assume that they would like to list notational conventions for variables in a different list. But I think you're right that "notational convention" would probably be an accurate description of this second list. Aug 28 at 22:41
  • Thanks for the answer. Do you know why my question was closed?
    – Evan Aad
    Aug 30 at 13:49

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