I edit equations. If you were to look over my shoulder you would see mathematical functions you never knew existed. Although it makes me look smart, I have no idea what it all means. But I don’t need to.
All I need to look at is the syntax (this is making sure the equation fits grammatically into the sentence, but it means sometimes the verb of my sentence is an equal sign, and that’s ok. I think this is cool.), punctuation, and italicization.
Usually there is some long-ass explanation after the equation that goes something like “…where q is the number of times you’ll look up the spelling of perovskite, l is the number of times you forget how to spell it before you click back to Word, z is the number of curse words you utter, and c is the curse word that makes your dog look up in concern.” You have to make sure the variables in the text are set the same as the variables in the equation.
Believe it or not, this becomes second nature. The editorial assistant asks “Do you mind a lot of MathType [the program that allows crazy equations to show up in something other than blank boxes in Word]?” And I’m all “MathType? Bring it on!” Today I came across “where the superscripts i and g stand for idiot and ginormous idiot, respectively.” I glance at the equation from force and habit. There are no superscripts i and g. In fact, there are no i‘s or g‘s in the entire equation or in the text that precedes it. Huh. I guess my habits work every once in a while.
What are your variables?