An article by Donald Knuth and Hermann Zapf about the development of their Euler fonts for typesetting math gives me a lot to chew on. More than I can lucidly process right now, so instead let me jot down a few notes to file away for further thought or inquiry:
Knuth mentions a lot of qualities that mathematicians expect to see that are based on blackboard-writing conventions. Are those still relevant at this point, or is more teaching and research with math being done with electronic tools. If so, how do those tools present the math?
Optimization for screen display could be a big factor with the practical work.
Track down the digital Euler fonts themselves. The AMS only offers a few of the fonts as part of their TeX resources, and Linotype seems to have the full set, but only as part of a fairly pricey collection of Zapf's work on CD.
What other math development projects have there been? Something must be happening with the STIX fonts, right? What kind of research went into Microsoft's Cambria Math? What about Lucida Pro's math? What other major efforts were there before the Euler project?
Maybe a general idea for the dissertation could be an investigation of the various efforts that have been made to address the type-for-math problem. Every time I read about one, it seems to have been formed out of nothingness, without much inquiry into what's come before. that’s probably not the case, but it could help to dig up antecedents and follow them through to more contemporary efforts.
Knuth and Zapf talk a lot about the scripts and frakturs and such, not just the romans, italic, and Greek. Look for more examples of all of those.
Knuth, Donald E., and Zapf, Hermann, "AMS Euler — A New Typeface for Mathematics" Scholarly Publishing, April 1989, pp 131157
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