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Re: symbol for KE

Carl Mungan wrote:
... I'm thinking of obstinately using K on the board even
though our classical mechanics text uses T, but before I do this, I'd
like to hear any opinions why this might not be a good idea.

The fundamental problem is that there are so many
quantities of interest that assigning single-letter
names to them is an unwinnable game.

If the Subject: line is a question, it seems to
answer itself. "KE" seems like a perfectly good
symbol for KE.

I prefer KE to K. K seems no better than T. I use T
unless it conflicts with something else in the problem,
in which case I switch to KE.

If you want to be artistic you can turn around one
of the letters (K or E) and push them together to
make a monogram. The same trick works for potential


The only downside is the same downside you get whenever
you do anything that diverges from the textbook. Students
get confused, not knowing which convention to follow.
Also you'll get a weird mixture of conventions on the
assignments that get turned in.

On the third hand, it is quite likely that the text is
already self-inconsistent, so you can take comfort that
you haven't made anything significantly worse.


The only real solution has two parts:

1) Use whatever symbols you like. For complicated
calculations, you will need multi-character symbols.

2) Write down a legend. Spell out in detail what each
symbol means. In particular for potential energy, the
legend is a good place to state what gauge is being