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Chapter 8. Higher Mathematics > 8.5. Variable symbol commands

8.5. Variable symbol commands

Many LaTeX commands are often thought of as producing a particular symbol when, in fact, the exact form is not fixed (even when the font and size are fixed). Certain features of TeX’s mathematical typesetting can even be used to produce structures that can, in principle, grow to whatever size is required.

Such context-dependent variability is very important in mathematical typesetting, and this section discusses some aspects of it. With a few clearly noted exceptions, the commands covered in this section are available in standard LaTeX.

A well-known, but not very exciting, example of such variability entails the mathematical operator symbols, such as \sum and \prod, which typically come in just two sizes: a smaller size that is used in running text and a larger size that is used in displayed formulas. Such symbols appear in Table 8.25 on page 536.


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