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Tense in mathematical English

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posted on 2024-05-13, 14:55 authored by Matthew InglisMatthew Inglis, Jacob Strauss

Many authors have commented on the relative frequency of the present tense - and the relative infrequency of the past tense|in mathematical writing.

However, none (to our knowledge) have provided an estimate for the size of this effect or explored how universal it is. In this short note we report an analysis of corpora of mathematical and day-to-day English. We conclude that the present-to-past ratio of tenses is at least 3:1 in mathematical English, compared to approximately 5:7 in day-to-day English. Further, we show that this tendency to favour the present tense is almost universally present in written mathematics.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Global Philosophy

Volume

34

Publisher

Springer

Version

  • VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Author(s)

Publisher statement

This Open Access article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Acceptance date

2024-04-17

Publication date

2024-05-08

Copyright date

2024

ISSN

2948-152X

eISSN

2948-1538

Language

  • en

Depositor

Prof Matthew Inglis. Deposit date: 7 May 2024

Article number

3

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