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Questions tagged [terminology]

For questions about terms, definitions and related concepts used in science and mathematics.

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Origin of “bootstrapping” in mathematical logic

"Bootstrapping" is a term which in general refers to a self-starting process. It is very heavily used in the field of computer science, but it also has uses elsewhere. For example, in mathematical ...
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When did the research field of Astrophysics begin?

I have this vague idea that Astrophysics morphed out of Astronomy as a field of study and research. I am curious if this is true and when did Astrophysics become separate from Astronomy as a field of ...
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Is it a historical coincidence that relative atomic weights by chemical methods and mass spectrometry are very close?

The concept of relative atomic weight originated from measuring the combining weight of hydrogen with a certain element. In the simplification process H was taken as unity (18th, 19th and 20th century)...
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Where is the first reference to the “Z combinator”, a call-by-value fix-point combinator?

I'd like to know the earliest reference to the Z-combinator. This could be either where the name was first coined, or even the first discussion of a need for an applicative-order Y combinator. I didn'...
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Who associated the sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental spectral terms with electron's momentum?

It is well documented that the notation for the electronic configuration (s,p,d,f) of atoms as used today originates from the words sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental from alkali metal spectra (...
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99 views

How did the early chemists determine the atomic weight of hydrogen?

In early history, the relative atomic weight of hydrogen was assigned as 1 (exactly) and all other elements were compared against hydrogen. What is difficult to find who determined the absolute atomic ...
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Origin of the expression “Fundamental theorem of Algebra”

Who was the first person to use the expression “Fundamental theorem of Algebra”? It is well-known that Gauss called it “Fundamental theorem of algebraic equations”. Grattan-Guiness, in his The Rainbow ...
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165 views

When was the term “corollary” first used in proofs?

A dictionary search of the word "corollary" immediately yields the usual definition that all people involved with mathematics are used to dealing with. However, this surely comes from the Latin "...
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Why is differentiation under the integral sign named the Leibniz rule?

The question here asked why differentiation under the integral sign is named "Feynman's trick". That is a comparatively recent name for the method. Aside from the name "differentiation under the ...
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Science about population interaction with ecosystems?

I am curious in the lack of scientific field/perceived research of ecosystems and their developments, or maybe I never encountered it. Is there any such field, investigating ecosystems "start" to end ...
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How did the early chemists make a connection between gram formula weight with 1 mole and Avogadro's number?

According to one historian Mustafa Sarikaya's article in Foundations of Chemistry DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9128-7, the mole concept was introduced to chemistry earlier than Avogadro’s number. The mole ...
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Who came up with R for that constant?

I never did find an answer from professors, or even see an acknowledgement in textbooks, on why capital-letter-r is invariably used to represent the constant 0.08206 L-atm/mol-K seen in chemistry ...
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Was the value of the mole invented or discovered in chemistry?

For example, $\pi$ is not an invention, it is a discovery which was natural, that is ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. But when we define a meter it is not a natural value it is ...
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103 views

Why is the H theorem called the big Eta theorem?

In France, they refer to the H-theorem of Boltzmann (Théorème H) as 'eta'-theorem (théorème 'eta'). The connection obviously comes from the uppercase version of the Greek letter $\eta$, which looks ...
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Why are permutations ($_nP_r$) called differently in non-English languages (“variations” in German)?

First of all, you should be at least a little familiar with combinatorics to understand that question. Some often used calculator keys in stochastic are the nCr and nPr ones. Edit: I've first asked ...
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Who came up with a number of the theoretical plates equation?

In chromatography, the signal is shaped like a Gaussian peak, and it is plotted against time vs. instrument's signal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromatography#/media/File:Rt_5_12.png (a) One of ...
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117 views

Why do mathematicians call ~ 'twiddle'?

Every one of my lecturers have always called it this, as do I, despite the fact that I know its properly called 'tilde'. Does anyone have any clue where this convention comes from and why it might ...
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86 views

Origin of Gauss-Newton method

The Gauss-Newton method can be derived from Newton's method, but I am unable to see how Gauss was linked with this method. It seems unlikely that he himself worked on the method, but I am at a loss.
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What motivated the choice of the word “model” in model theory?

Who chose the term "model" in model theory? What was their reason for choosing the word "model" to mean what it means now in model theory? The current meaning: "[interpretation] I is a model of [...
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Why did Euclid define “a unit” instead of “the unit”?

I know Euclid's Definition VII.1 of a unit only from English and German translations: A unit is (that) according to which each existing (thing) is said (to be) one. [translation by Fitzpatrick] ...
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193 views

Who used the symbol $S_n$ for “rotation reflection” as a symmetry operation?

I am looking for the origin of the symbol $S_n$ used by chemists to denote the symmetry operation consisting of a $\smash{\frac{2\pi}n}$ rotation ($C_n$) about an axis and a reflection in a plane ...
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43 views

How was the term speed treated in the 16 and 17 century?

What do the the people in 16 an 17 century meant by the term speed? Were they having the relation speed=distance/time back then or were they having some other notion for it and this relation came into ...
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Why did “cold fusion” come to mean Fleischmann-Pons fusion instead of μCF?

Muon-catalysed fusion is obtained at low temperatures, although as of 2018 its energy yield is less than the muon production requirements. The term "cold fusion" was first used in the 1950s, to refer ...
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101 views

Degenerate States in Quantum Mechanics

In his book on quantum mechanics in the chapter on perturbation theory Dirac says in a footnote: A system with only one stationary state belonging to each energy-level is often called non-...
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128 views

Origins of molecular orbital diagrams?

Does anyone remember who proposed molecular diagrams for simple molecules as taught today in most general chemistry texts? I cannot access Hund's original article, however, Mulliken's early articles ...
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What is the origin of “normal” in normal coordinates and normal modes?

I am trying to understand why vibrational modes of polyatomic molecules are called "normal" mode of vibrations and with corresponding normal coordinates. What is the origin of the term normal here? I ...
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“Species” and “terms” meaning polynomials and monomials

I found in some old Latin texts and their translations that polynomials were once called "species" (if I understand correctly that they meant the same thing, but it looks like it). And their ...
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Who coined the term “immune system”?

Who coined the term "immune system"? The OED lists the following as its earliest example of the term "immune system": 1943 Science 30 Apr. 406/1Complement..is removed by the addition of an ...
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80 views

What does Rousseau mean by “Baroco des Logiciens”?

In the Wikipedia "Baroque" article I found this quote from "Dictionnaire de Musique" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau: BAROQUE. Une Musique Baroque est celle dont l’Harmonie est confuse, chargée de ...
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113 views

Where does the prefix “super” from “supersymmetry” come from?

Where does the prefix "super" from "supersymmetry" come from?
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38 views

Kronecker's aphorism [duplicate]

The common translation of Kronecker's "Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk" is something like "God made the integers, all else is man's handiwork." But I have ...
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How did the terms “center” and “centralizer” come up in group theory?

Usually the word center means the center of a circle. I have encountered the word center in group theory, but do not see any connection with the center of a circle. I think the history of group theory ...
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What is the etymology of the term “mode” in statistics?

I saw that the word "mode" means "popular" in French, and I was wondering if this might be the etymology of the "mode" of a population in stat? I was wondering if anyone had sources for early use of ...
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When and why did people stopped using “natural philosophy” term and started using “science”?

Previously what is called now "natural sciences" was called "natural philosophy". I'm interested in details, what was so wrong with the name "philosophy" so the name "science" became preferred?
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What is the origin of “law of excluded middle”?

Reading an article I have stumbled across the concept of law of excluded middle. Wikipedia mentions that original expression is principium tertii exclusi which ...
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What does the “G” for the similitude groups stand for?

When we have a bilinear symmetric/ bilinear anti-symmetric/hermitian form $b$ on a real/complex vector space $V$, one can consider the group of invertible matrices $A \in GL(V)$ which respect $b$, ...
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Why statistical moments are called moments?

According to the Jeff Miller's Earliest Known Uses of the Words of Mathematics "Moment was taken into Statistics from Mechanics by Karl Pearson when he treated the frequency-curve (or observation ...
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History of group theory character tables (as used in physics and chemistry)

Does anyone know who started using the symbols A, B, E, T (First column, left) for showing irreducible representations of symmetry groups? In older maths books I see capital gamma. Herein A= totally ...
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Etymology of Some Terms Used in Ratio and Proportion in Old Algebra Textbooks

In older algebra textbooks for high school (mainly 19th century) four properties of ratio and proportions were used. The properties were Invertendo, Alternendo, Componendo, and Dividendo. This ...
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Where does the letter S in “$S$-units” and in localization $S^{-1} R$ come from?

In number theory, we may encounter the notion of $S$-unit, $S$-integer, etc. where $S$ is a finite set of prime numbers (for simplicity). For instance, if $S = \{2,3\}$ then the $S$-integers are the ...
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84 views

First appearance of the term sinus cardinalis

Who introduced the term sinus cardinalis? I do not mean the abbreviation sinc, which was introduced 1952 by Woodward.
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426 views

How influential was the Kerala school to European development in Calculus?

Did it influence the work of Newton or Leibniz, i have often heard that Europeans "stole" calculus from the Kerala school, these are views often parroted by Indian nationalists, but how accurate is it?...
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Who coined the term “uniform” as in “uniform distribution”?

During the late 16th century and early 17th century, published work about probability theory (e.g. Liber de ludo aleae by J. Cardan published in 1663 but writen around 1564) studied dice games using ...
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Riemann's moduli and Dedekind's modules: any connection?

The concept of a moduli space goes back to Riemann's count of $3g-3$ (or $3p-3$, in older notation) coordinates to describe Riemann surfaces of genus $g$ when $g > 1$. See the bottom of p. 33 here, ...
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75 views

Why are microcanonical, canonical and macrocanonical ensembles called that way?

In statistical mechanics, why microcanonical, canonical and macrocanonical ensemble are called that way? Is there any reason according to the size of the system they can describe properly ( I don't ...
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177 views

Indiana Pi Bill: Other attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative fiat?

Wiki: The Indiana Pi Bill is the popular name for bill #246 of the 1897 sitting of the Indiana General Assembly, one of the most notorious attempts to establish mathematical truth by legislative ...
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Who coined the term ''Born's rule''?

Who assigned the term ''Born's rule'' to the statement that the measurement of a quantum observable is one of its eigenvalues, with a probability given by the square of the coefficient in the spectral ...
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160 views

Earliest known usage of letter gamma “Γ” for reducible representation in group theory

Does any know the earliest known usage of the Greek letter gamma for showing a reducible representation of a group? This symbolism is commonly used in character tables in chemical applications of ...
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1answer
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References about the the development of the concept of mechanical work

I'm looking for references about how the concept of mechanical work ("$\boldsymbol{F}\cdot\mathrm{d}\boldsymbol{r}$") or the concept of mechanical power ("$\boldsymbol{F}\cdot\boldsymbol{v}$") came ...
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Who invented the term “Kuhn loss”?

This term has been discussed on this forum, e.g. under Examples of Kuhn loss?, and has been attributed to Kuhn himself. The term refers to the loss of explanations and predictions of the prior ...