# Definition:Divisor (Algebra)/Notation

Jump to navigation
Jump to search

## Definition

The conventional notation for **$x$ is a divisor of $y$** is "$x \mid y$", but there is a growing trend to follow the notation "$x \divides y$", as espoused by Knuth etc.

From Ronald L. Graham, Donald E. Knuth and Oren Patashnik: *Concrete Mathematics: A Foundation for Computer Science* (2nd ed.):

*The notation '$m \mid n$' is actually much more common than '$m \divides n$' in current mathematics literature. But vertical lines are overused -- for absolute values, set delimiters, conditional probabilities, etc. -- and backward slashes are underused. Moreover, '$m \divides n$' gives an impression that $m$ is the denominator of an implied ratio. So we shall boldly let our divisibility symbol lean leftward.*

An unfortunate unwelcome side-effect of this notational convention is that to indicate non-divisibility, the conventional technique of implementing $/$ through the notation looks awkward with $\divides$, so $\not \! \backslash$ is eschewed in favour of $\nmid$.

Some sources use $\ \vert \mkern -10mu {\raise 3pt -} \ $ or similar to denote non-divisibility.