Programming notation

Notation is the traditional Lisp name for what most languages call syntax. It’s a better name. Notation implies flexibility, expressivity, and also admits the arbitrariness of the choices made by the language designer in fixing the notation.

Notation is a mathematical term, also. Mathematical notation is very powerful because it uses whatever special characters it needs to — and mathematicians can add their own symbolisms when they need them — and takes significantly better advantage of two dimensions than typical programming language notation does. (Summations and integrals are good, simple examples; matrices also.) It also, perhaps more relevantly, makes good use of typographical effects: bold, italics, superscript, subscript, even changing Schriftart to sans-serif or even Fraktur to make distinctions. Programming languages haven’t done anything like this since ALGOL 60; even there, stropping was needed to replicate the effects in plain text. I would use the term ’rich notation’ to describe a programming language which uses notation this effectively.