The order of terms matters even when they commute

From Why start at x, y, z

When writing an expression that consists of several terms, the conventions regarding their order appear arbitrary.


It is usual to write:


People sometimes rearrange a sum to avoid a leading unary minus, even when this contradicts the convention of writing terms in decreasing order of degree:

\[ 1 - x \]

instead of

\[ -x + 1 \]


When writing a polynomial on its own, the usual convention is to write the terms in decreasing order of degree:

\[ x^3 - 32x^2 + 3x -1 \]

But for a series expansion, where higher-order powers are often omitted, it makes more sense to start with the lowest-degree term:

\[ -1 + 3x - 32x^2 + x^3 \]