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**To**:*math-font-discuss@cogs.susx.ac.uk***Subject**:**\ell****From**:*Michael Downes <MJD@MATH.AMS.ORG>***Date**: 05 Aug 1993 10:10:34 -0400 (EDT)**Cc**:*mjd@MATH.AMS.ORG*

JZ wrote (July 16): > do people think that the \ell glyph should be kept, or do people think that we > can keep the macro, and make it point to the round lowercase > l in the script or cal fonts ? I don't understand the purpose of the \ell glyph from a mathematician's point of view. My conjecture: In ancient times mathematicians had to use typewriters where lowercase Latin l was indistinguishable from the numeral 1. So the mathematicians started to use a `calligraphic' l to make the l-ness of the character more apparent. If this is the only reason that mathematicians use \ell, then it seems that two approaches are possible: (1) make sure the lowercase ell's in math fonts are very distinctly different from the numeral 1, and do not provide for \ell in the math font encoding; or (2) accept the use of \ell as an established convention and provide for it in the math font encoding. I would tend to favor (1) since \ell seems too visually discordant a way to distinguish the l. On the other hand, if my conjecture is wrong, I would like to see some documentation of the mathematician's understanding of \ell added to the documentation of the math font encoding, for the record.

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