**Fewer equations**:

If you want people to read your work, don’t throw equations at them. (Equations in papers = fewer citations NATURE vol. 488 no. 7413 August 30, 2012 page 561 reviewing (Proc. Natl Acad. Sci USA 109, 11735-11739 (2012)) That is sad. An equation is a way to make a statement very precisely and very compactly.

Take a silly equation:

FBT = OFS X AvDPOFS / DS + DFS X AvDPDFS /DS + BW

where FBT is the average number of players on the team

OFS is the number of players in the offensive squad

AvDPOFS is the average number of days they play

DS is the number of days in a season

DFS is the number of players in the defensive squad

AvDPDFS is the average number of days they play

BW is the number of bench warmers

In English you would say that the team is the offensive squad, the defensive squad and the bench warmers.

Sure the equation is exact (not really, of course. You would have to say more about the bench warmers and specialty squads and probably more) or at least it is more precise. And it is more compact until you start to say exactly what all those things mean.

I find that far too often not everything is defined. And for me the most disgruntling thing is that the equation always comes first. You are skimming along reading and suddenly nothing makes sense. You have to read the definitions and then go back one by one to see where they fit in. At least they could put the definitions in first and then you could decide which ones you were interested in and see where they turn up in the equation.

The upshot is that everybody loves their own equations and hates everybody else’s.

It’s ironic of course. If you are doing careful work you would really like to be able to reduce your thoughts to a few simple, unambiguous formulae. By and large I can’t do that. I can only give graphs of computer runs. And the computer runs would ideally be backed up by the source code. Just what did I ask the computer to do? That would take dozens of pages of code.

So I take a small amount of comfort in the fact that although I cannot give you equations at least I know that if I did you would hate them.

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