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I just encountered a question which had a formula in LaTeX syntax, like so:

$$\frac{d\phi}{dt} = F(x, v)\ \ ,\ \ x = A\cos(\omega t + \phi) \ \ ,\ \ v = -A\omega\sin(\omega t + \phi)$$

LaTeX support "will never be on SO", so I replaced this with the following:

dφ/dt = F(x, v),  
x = A*cos(Ωt + φ),
v = -A*Ω*sin(Ωt + φ)

I felt that gave a concise and readable formula. But is the use of Greek letters desired/recommended, or should I have spelt them out like phi, omega etc, in case people somehow don't have support for Greek characters in their browsers? Or to make the formula less math-like and more code-like, maybe?

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How about dφ/dt = F(x,v), and v = -AΩsin(Ωt + φ)? – wchargin Jun 4 '13 at 1:15
By the way if that's a pendulum I believe it should be a lowercase ω. – wchargin Jun 4 '13 at 1:16
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Since this is Stack Overflow we're talking about, I'd go for "make the formula less math-like and more code-like." The question is tagged , so use that if you can. If not, pseudocode that uses variable names like phi and omega in place of Greek letters should be fine.

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I considered changing it to proper Matlab code, but shouldn't I respect whatever reason OP had to present the formula mathematically rather than as Matlab code? – Junuxx Jun 19 '12 at 12:34
@Junuxx If they had a good reason I'd say yes. Since the OP chose to leave their formulas in an unsupported format, no you don't have to respect their unspecified reason for doing that. – Bill the Lizard Jun 19 '12 at 12:42
I see. Still, I can't really unambiguously translate the formula into matlab code, and an error on the OP's side might actually be the cause of the problem, so I decided to ask them for their code instead. But thanks for the answer, I'll keep it in mind. – Junuxx Jun 19 '12 at 12:46

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