# Questions tagged [notation]

For questions about the history and development of how symbols and related objects are written.

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### What notation, if any, did Principia use for power set?

I have read in Florian Cajori, A history of Mathematical Notation (https://monoskop.org/images/2/21/Cajori_Florian_A_History_of_Mathematical_Notations_2_Vols.pdf) to check notations for the power set ...
1 vote
147 views

### When was $\mathcal{P}$ first used for power set?

Crossposted with Mathoverflow: https://mathoverflow.net/questions/476307/when-was-the-proof-wiki-mathcalp-first-used-for-power-set The $\mathcal{P}$, as in https://proofwiki.org/wiki/Symbols:Fonts/...
1k views

### Was the concept of zero ever developed without relation to positional number systems?

Are there any ancient civilizations which had concept of zero but didn't not use positional numerals for any somewhat non-negligible (from historical point of view) amount of time? If there are such ...
98 views

### Why is Einstein summation named after Einstein?

Why is Einstein summation of tensors (summation of repeated indices) named after Einstein? "Einstein rule" in the Encyclopedia of Mathematics only says: This rule was proposed by A. ...
1k views

### Why is electric potential denoted by $\phi$?

I haven't found any explanation for it, and I'm curious.
4k views

### Why is the radical symbol $\sqrt{}$ called "radical"?

This question arose in a conversation with a teacher who was introducing square roots to her students. I know from the website Earliest Uses of Symbols of Operation that the symbol $\sqrt{}$ has its ...
312 views

### Origin of $\ll$ notation

Vinogradov introduced the notation $$f(x) \ll g(x)$$ to denote that for some $C>0$, we have $|f(x)|\leqslant C\,g(x)$ for all $x$ under consideration; usually for all $x$ larger than a fixed ...
32 views

### Notation for Propositional values in Church's "Simple Theory of Types"

In Alanzo Church's "A Formulation of the Simple Theory of Types" (The Journal of Symbolic Logic 5 no.2 (1940) 56--68, DOI:10.2307/2266170), he adopts the ...
1 vote
105 views

### David Hilbert's paper: Substitution of the group of cyclotomic field

A question about a notation in David Hilberts's "Ein neuer Beweis des Kroneckerschen Fundamentalsatzes über Abelsche Zahlkörper" (here a german online available source, not sure if there ...
4k views

### Why is calculus missing from Newton's Principia?

I'm not suggesting that Newton did not discover calculus - the question is written this way to express my surprise that the Principia does not use the methods of calculus (or 'fluxions'). He instead ...
571 views

### Why isn't the symbol for Beryllium 'B' rather than 'Be'?

What I have understood is, generally the symbol of an element is kept as the first letter of the element's name itself (H, N, O...) unless there's already a symbol with that letter, in that case, we ...
59 views

### Why is the standard deviation bias correction factor called c₄?

The term to remove bias from an estimate of standard deviation for a normal distribution is referred to as $c_4$. What is the origin or reason for using that notation for the correction factor?
8k views

### Writing Mathematical Symbols in 20th century

As I was reading some papers written by Schrödinger and Heisenberg back in 1920s, I noticed that the symbols they use such as the integral or summation sign or calligraphic letters are as if printed ...
199 views

### Seeking Comprehensive References on the History of Scientific Notation

I am on a quest to uncover the rich tapestry of history surrounding scientific notation as a way of expressing numbers. Specifically, I'm interested in scholarly books, peer-reviewed articles, and ...
1k views

### What was the motivation for the choice of the subset symbol?

I gather that the symbols $\subset$ and $\supset$ were introduced by Ernst Schröder in his 1890 Vorlesungen über die Algebra der Logik. This account also appears—attributed to good old Cajori—in an ...
223 views

### History of greater-than symbol used in reverse?

I was surprised to find that Oliver Byrne's 1847 marvelous The Elements of Euclid (color version)1 uses $\sqsubset$ to mean "greater than" and $\sqsupset$ to mean "less than," in ...
175 views

### How did Hindu-Arabic Numerals get their shapes?

I’ve noticed a recurring post on social media that presents an image suggesting the shapes of Hindu-Arabic numerals are connected to the angles within their design: This claim seems dubious to me. I ...
18k views

### Old square bracket notation for units

As discussed in this answer https://physics.stackexchange.com/a/77691/667 there are several common conventions for the notation $[q]$ of a physical quantity $q$. However, I often see people to put ...
1 vote
108 views

### Historical Accounts of Confusion in Alphabetic Number Systems?

I’m delving into the intriguing world of alphabetic number systems (greek, for instance), where letters serve a dual purpose—forming words and representing numerical values. I’m curious about the ...
5k views

### How did the obelus ÷ come to stand for division?

The obelus ÷ represents division on calculator keyboards, and sometimes in elementary education. It has a long non-mathematical history starting before 200 BC. Its ...
4k views

### What was Euler's motivation for introducing $i$ for $\sqrt{-1}$?

[Mauro Allegranza has answered the question of who introduced the notation $i$ (Euler, followed later by Gauss), so I have changed the title. I have also edited the question in other ways to make it ...
1 vote
78 views

### What is the earliest use of the $\perp\!\!\!\!\perp$ symbol in statistics to denote statistical independence?

The symbol $\perp\!\!\!\!\perp$ in statistics is a way to denote statistical independence of a collection of random variables. I have seen two forms of it. The first is highly suitable in writing ...
### What is the origin of the $\hbar$ symbol?
Equations involving Planck's constant, $h ,$ are often simplified by instead writing them in terms of the reduced Planck's constant, $\hbar \equiv \frac{h}{2 \pi}.$ But where did the symbol for the ...