Re: Exponents before superscripting

Subject: Re: Exponents before superscripting
From: Peter Brown <pbrown -at- MKS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 1997 09:14:39 -0400

ahreed wrote:
> Robbie Rupel wrote:
> > Scenario: We need to include inverse units on an index. The denominator
> > contains a superscript (integer exponent to be exact). The application
> > can not handle superscripts or subscripts, so we need to find another
> > way. (FYI, the interface will be changed, but not in time for this
> > release.)
> >
> > The following have been suggested (and have been argued against) so far:
> > 1/cm**4
> > 1/cm^4
> In mathematical contexts, a caret implies a superscript and an
> underscore
> implies a subscript. Though it's not elegant, it's understood.
> Examples: x^4
> n_3
> The same convention is used in mathematical typesetting packages (e.g.,
> LaTeX).
> Use of ** is particularly troublesome, since * generally implies
> multiplication.
> Regards,
> Gay Reed
> ahreed -at- mail -dot- iamerica -dot- net

In programming circles, ** often implies exponents (x**4). Of course,
that notation only solves the problem in this specific case where the
superscript happens to be an exponent.

"Opinions? I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention."
Peter Brown, Technical Writer (pbrown -at- mks -dot- com)
Mortice Kern Systems Inc. (

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