Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2014 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Semiotics in Mathematics Education

  • Norma Presmeg
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4978-8_137

Definitions and Background

Because mathematical objects cannot be apprehended directly by the senses (e.g., Otte 2006), their ontological status requires signs such as symbols and diagrams for their communication and learning. A sign (from ancient Greek semeion, meaning sign) is described by Colapietro (1993) as “something that stands for something else” (p. 179). Then semiosis is “a term originally used by Charles S. Peirce to designate any sign action or sign process; in general, the activity of a sign” (p. 178). Semiotics is “the study or doctrine of signs; the systematic investigation of the nature, properties, and kinds of sign, especially when undertaken in a self-conscious way” (p. 179). Both Duval (2006) and Otte (2006) stressed that mathematical objects should not be confused with their semiotic representations, although these signs provide the only access to their abstract objects. Ernest (2006) suggested that there are three components of semiotic systems (clearly...


Signs Semiosis Semiotics Mathematical objects Semiotic representations Communicating mathematically Decontextualization Contextualization Signifier Signified De Saussure Triads Charles Sanders Peirce Object Representamen Interpretant Iconic Indexical Symbolic Intensional interpretant Effectual interpretant Communicational Interpretant Cominterpretant Commens Epistemological triangle Semiotic bundles Diagrammatic reasoning Abduction Onto-semiotic theoretical model Semiotic mediation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MathematicsIllinois State UniversityMaryvilleUSA