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Re: technical question

>whether the old integral
>syntax should be retired in favor of a new syntax.

I'd argue not, since it's fairly rare to want an extensible ingtegral,
so we can make the non-extensible one the default.  The sytax
\bigint seems reasonable to me, if we're going to allow such a beast. 

>As for backward compatibility in general: Of course it is very
>important, but what about the practical consequences?

Ah yes, it's not at all obvious what we want from backward
compatibility.  For example, I'm not sure that any document anywhere
contains the input $X_\nsim$, but on the off chance that one does,
we'll have to allow \nsim to be a <mathchardef token> (rather than
something like \mathrel{\negationchar\sim} and allowing the ligaturing
mechanism to take the strain).