Linear syntax for communicating elementary mathematics

C. J. Sangwin*, P. Ramsden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We consider computer aided assessment (CAA) of mathematics in which a student provides an answer in the form of a mathematical expression. A common approach is for CAA system implementors to adopt a linear syntax to allow students to communicate their answer to the machine. In this paper we consider the problems students encounter when mediating between (i) traditional mathematical notation and (ii) the requirements of a strict computer algebra system (CAS) syntax. We compare the linear syntaxes of five commonly used general purpose CAS, and report surprising variety even at the elementary levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-934
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Symbolic Computation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007


  • Mathematics education
  • Syntax for elementary mathematics

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