# Questions tagged [notation]

Use this tag whenever you have a question about what some particular symbol/notation means.

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### O(·) is not a function, so how can a function be equal to it?

I totally understand what big $O$ notation means. My issue is when we say $T(n)=O(f(n))$ , where $T(n)$ is running time of an algorithm on input of size $n$. I understand semantics of it. But $T(n)$ ...
2answers
7k views

### Order of growth definition from Reynolds & Tymann

I am reading a book called Principles of Computer Science (2008), by Carl Reynolds and Paul Tymann (published by Schaum's Outlines). The second chapter introduces algorithms with an example of a ...
2answers
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### What is this fraction-like “discrete mathematics”–style notation used for formal rules?

In the paper "A Conflict-Free Replicated JSON Datatype", I encountered this notation for formally defining "rules": What is this notation called? How do I read it? For example: the ...
3answers
10k views

### What is the purpose of using NIL for representing null nodes?

In my Algorithms and Data Structures course, professors, slides and the book (Introduction to Algorithms, 3rd edition) have been using the word NIL to denote for ...
2answers
725 views

### What is the origin of λ for empty string?

I usually use the symbol $\varepsilon$ for empty string (empty word or null string). But I know some people use $\lambda$ instead of $\varepsilon$. I think $\varepsilon$ is derived from the word "...
1answer
5k views

### Can a Big-Oh time complexity contain more than one variable?

Let us say for instance I am doing string processing that requires some analysis of two strings. I have no given information about what their lengths might end up being, so they come from two distinct ...
1answer
926 views

### What does up arrow ($\uparrow$) mean in pseudocode?

I'm learning vantage point trees, and I met this while reading the paper Data Structures and Algorithms for Nearest Neighbor Search in General Metric Spaces by Peter Yianilos (Proceedings of SODA 1993,...
2answers
1k views