Each mathematician knows that good notation or symbolism – which seems to be irrelevant from a purely logical point of view – makes theorems more plausible and motivates results which would otherwise be overlooked. Examples abound. Let me only mention such diverse things as decimal notation, $B^A$ for the set of mappings from $A$ to $B$, $\frac{{df}}{{dx}}$ for differentiation, commutative diagrams, umbral calculus, etc. I would be interested in a list of examples of the most useful notations or symbolic devices together with hints for the reason of their usefulness.

Group conjugation: $a^b$ means $b^{1}ab$, so $(a^b)^c$ is $a^{bc}$ and $(a^b)^{1}$ is $(a^{1})^b$. 


I really like the multiindex notation for derivatives which is quite often found in the theory of PDEs. $D^\alpha f = \frac{\partial^{\vert\alpha\vert} f}{\partial x_1^{\alpha_1}\cdots\partial x_n^{\alpha_n}}$ Where $\alpha$ is defined as: $\alpha = (\alpha_1,\cdots,\alpha_n),$ $\vert \alpha\vert = \alpha_1 + \cdots +\alpha_n$ It makes definining Sobolev Spaces (and their corresponding Norms) so much cleaner and straight forward: $W^{k,p} = \lbrace f\in L^p : D^\alpha f\in L^p \text{ for all } \vert\alpha\vert \le k \rbrace$ 


For certain problems, suppression of a common entity or entry and making it understood by other means. For a lecture involving manipulation of some algebra (ternary groups, maybe?) a form similar to matrix multiplication was used. Instead of spelling out the matrices with all the entries, those entries that were zero were omitted, giving a more eyefriendly appearence. I (and many others, I'm sure) use it for small incidence matrices which are not very dense; the symmetry and other relationships seem much more obvious without the clutter of zeroes. And this is just one example of many. Gerhard "Ask Me About System Design" Paseman, 2011.09.13 

