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Something I have been wondering about.

I have seen people remove latex from question titles, replacing it with a general phrase describing the kind of problem being solved.

For example, instead of "how to solve $ax^2 + bx + c = 0$", the title is replaced with "How can I solve this quadratic?".

It was mentioned by one user that this was done for more appropriate indexing or something of that affect. I observed this some time ago, so I have forgotten the exact reasoning.

Is this something common? Is it something I should look out for? Or is latex generally acceptable in titles and could even be an improvement?

The only negative I see is that it makes it appear that the site is used as a repository for specific homework questions.

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    $\begingroup$ I guess one of the reasons is that LaTeX-snippets are too much for the local search engine. Try it yourself! Give it a piece of LaTeX to search for and behold the confusion. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Oct 13 '14 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't remove the LaTeX from the titles, I would work on making a better math searching algorithm (a hard task, unfortunately). $\endgroup$ – robjohn Oct 13 '14 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ No. It should be encouraged when it helps to tell you what's inside the question. There's a reason we write $2+2=4$ and not "the sum of twice the unit with itself equals to four times the unit". $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 13 '14 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Yes. It should be discouraged except when it helps to tell you what's inside the question. (Thanks to @Asaf for the template :-) ) $\endgroup$ – quid Oct 14 '14 at 6:16
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    $\begingroup$ But in a title, I would use 2+2=4 and not $2+2=4$. It loads faster, renders correctly everywhere, and serves to educate the SE users outside of Math.SE, should the question get on the hot list... The only downside is that the numerals in Georgia font are weird. :-/ @AsafKaragila $\endgroup$ – user147263 Oct 14 '14 at 6:25
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http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/q/9687/ cover most of your question.

At times, formulas are necessary to describe the question. Other times they are not.

In the case you quoted, replacing $ax^2+bx+c=0$ with "quadratic equation" may be an improvement, since the same information is conveyed by words. Replacing $\Delta u = u^{3}+f$ with "nonlinear PDE" is probably not an improvement, since too much information is lost.

For all the struggle with searching math, Related column of this site can benefit from LaTeX in titles. E.g., the related column to this question has several examples with PDE of the same type.

So, neither of two blanket statements "latex is encouraged / discouraged in titles" would be true.

However, display style equations in titles are strongly discouraged and in some cases blocked by the software.

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    $\begingroup$ I think there is a universal recommendation that display style is discouraged in titles. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 13 '14 at 21:53

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