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Entering Mathematical Notation

Mathematical symbols and two-dimensional notation can be entered from the keyboard as well as through palettes.

Entering formulas

You can use the following keystrokes for two-dimensional input.

You can use ControlKeyLeftModified6 RightModified as an alternative to ControlKeyLeftModified^ RightModified; on some non-U.S. keyboards, you may have to use ControlKeyLeftModified6 RightModified (see International keyboards).

Practice entering a formula by going through these steps.

1. x ControlKeyLeftModified^ RightModified

2. 2 ControlKeyKeyBarSpaceKey

3. + 1 ControlKeyLeftModified/ RightModified

4. ControlKeyLeftModified2 RightModified x ControlKeyKeyBarSpaceKey

5. + a ControlKeyLeftModified_ RightModified 1 ControlKeyKeyBarSpaceKey ControlKeyKeyBarSpaceKey

Any part of a two-dimensional formula can be selected and edited.

Tables and Matrices

Tables and matrices can be entered using the command Input RightTriangleCreate Table/Matrix/Palette. In the dialog box, specify the number of rows and columns. Press TabKey to fill in successive entries.

Tables can also be entered directly from the keyboard.

To display tables as matrices, type parentheses around them.

Special characters

Every special character in Mathematica has a full name, such as \[Alpha]. Common characters also have short aliases using the EscapeKey key.

Practice entering special characters in either of these ways:

1. \[Alpha]

2. EscapeKeyb EscapeKey

EscapeKey appears on the screen as  and disappears when the substitution occurs.


Bullet The Complete Characters palette in File RightTrianglePalettes lists all special characters, and it displays the name of each character when the cursor is over the character.

Bullet In some cases, the special character is replaced automatically without pressing the EscapeKey key. For example, >= is converted to GreaterEqual.

Bullet You can also use names as aliases for special characters, such as EscapeKey \infty EscapeKey.

BulletUnix: If the main ControlKey key is remapped, the keyboard commands discussed above will not work.

For more information

Bullet Entering Greek letters: The Mathematica Book, Section 1.10.1.

Bullet Entering two-dimensional input: The Mathematica Book, Sections 1.1.7 and 1.10.1.

Bullet Special characters: The Mathematica Book, Sections 3.10 and A.12.