Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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34 views

On the origin of “sandwiches” in quantum mechanics

The term "sandwich" and the verb "to sandwich" appear pretty common but informally in quantum mechanics. Generally when describing some kind of inner product of the form: $$\langle ...
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150 views

Why is the number of elements in a group called “order”?

This is a question that I have for a long time, Maybe it is something silly, but I really want to know. Why is the number of elements in a group called "order"? I mean, the word "order&...
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Emmy Noether or Emmy Nöther?

Is it OK to write Emmy Nöther instead of Emmy Noether? I always assumed that the oe was an anglicization of ö (o with an umlaut). But when I look her up, I never see Nöther.
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141 views

Origin of the term “field” (in “vector field”)

I am reposting a thread from "physics stack exchange" : I was wondering - Why do we use the word "field" to describe a vector field? i.e., a field is "an expanse of open or ...
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168 views

Definition of ordinal multiplication

The ordinal multiplication $\cdot$ can be defined recursively via ordinal addition $+$ for any ordinal $\alpha$ as follows: $\alpha\cdot 0=0$. $\alpha\cdot (\beta+1)=\alpha\cdot \beta+\alpha$ for any ...
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First use of term “Hilbert's Nullstellensatz”

This year (2021) marks the 100th anniversary of Emmy Noether's 1921 paper in which she introduced Noetherian rings and proved the primary ideal decomposition for them. The original version of her ...
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Who coined the term: “Directed Graph”?

I found that the term "Digraph" was coined in 1955 by Frank Harary in "The number of linear, directed, rooted, and connected graphs", and that it was a term actually suggested by ...
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1answer
162 views

How long have people been debunking the P value (statistical significance) as commonly used in the human sciences: medicine, psychology and so on?

I have been puzzled for a long time at the way psychologists and medical researchers state that they have 'significant' results, and at the way this statement is relayed to the public who are misled ...
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Why did Galileo pick “temperatura” to signify 'degree of heat or cold'?

Etymonline avouches that Sense of "degree of heat or cold" first recorded 1670 (Boyle), from Latin temperatura, used in this sense by Galileo. But "degree of heat or cold" doesn'...
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125 views

What is the history of the use of the word daughter for a decay product in nuclear physics?

I was browsing the book Isotopes: Principles and Applications by Faure and Mensing and I would like to know what is the history of the use of the word daughter for a decay product. It seems to me that ...
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How did “fisike” shift from meaning “natural science” to “medicine”?

What's the antecedent of "its meaning"? I'm guessing fisike. Can you please expound on this shift that I embolded? The author didn't. physics [16] Physics comes ultimately from Greek ...
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138 views

Who came up with the name “Manhattan distance”?

Who came up with the name "Manhattan distance" (for the distance between two points as measured by the sum of the horizontal and vertical distances, as opposed to the length of the straight ...
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97 views

Who coined the 'particle zoo' expression?

I've been looking for the origin of the 'particle zoo' expression but so far failed to track down who first used it or at least who popularized it.
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What is the origin of the “Japanese bracket”?

In discussions of Sobolev spaces one often sees the Japanese bracket, $$\langle x \rangle = (1+|x|^2)^{1/2},$$ as useful shorthand. I was not easily able to find information about this term. (1) What ...
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88 views

How did the first astronomers define what a planet is?

What is the origin of the term "planet" and how did astronomers first define the term?
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51 views

Which one goes first - Secant or Newton - in Numerical root finding technique?

In Numerical root solving technique, which comes first in history - Newton or Secant - and each one is named after whom?
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Why are linear forms called “forms”?

My question is about linear forms, quadratic forms, n-linear forms, differential forms and so on. The first term of these names seem clear to me, but I cannot make a link between these mathematical ...
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49 views

History: Direct Product became Tensor Product?

I'm reading a 1939 paper by the great and famous J. von Neumann, "On infinite direct products" (of vector spaces), available here http://www.numdam.org/item/?id=CM_1939__6__1_0, legally I ...
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95 views

Where does the term “arm's-length recursion” come from?

I've recently seen the term "arm's-length recursion" for a recursive method with a check that short-circuits the method's true or intended base case. What's the origin of this term? How did ...
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1answer
217 views

What changes in mathematics resulted in the change of the definition of primes and exclusion of 1?

Why 1 is not prime? I read in this article that G.H Hardy explicitly included 1 as a prime in the first 6 editions of "A Course in Pure Mathematics", published between 1908-1933. He updated ...
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Where does the name “geometric theory” come from?

In mathematical logic, where does the adjective "geometric" comes from, in terms like "geometric theories" and "geometric logic"? These terms come up in fields like topos ...
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181 views

Who introduced the divisibility symbol $a\vert b$ (“$a$ divides $b$”) and when?

I have just stumbled across this post and became curious about the same question, namely the part regarding the origin/history of the vertical bar symbol $a\vert b$ that we use to denote "a ...
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The reason behind defining the direction of angular velocity towards the axis of rotation?

This is one of those questions which has confused a lot of students like me and I know similar questions have been asked on Physics Stack exchange but I literally want to know what was the reason ...
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101 views

What are the origins of the term “matter”?

I am seeking an understanding of the scientific term "matter". My research tells me that "hyle" and "materia" were both used. I am trying to create something of a ...
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Who coined the Hawaiian Earrings?

I hope to know who first used the name "Hawaiian Earrings." Barratt, Milnor(1962) says "This example was suggested by Steenrod" in its Introduction: https://www.ams.org/journals/...
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Why did Sylvester Gates choose the name Adinkra?

Sylvester James Gates was one of the co-discoverers of Adrinkas. These are graphical representations of susy (supersymmetry) algebras. They are named after a West African people - the Akan of Ghana ...
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461 views

What does “given in species” mean in old geometry textbooks?

I recently came across the term "triangle given in species" in Hatton's Projective Geometry. Searching in archive.org turned up other examples (such as this) of 19th century texts, and it ...
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240 views

kinetic energy formula written as mv^2

I stumbled across the following quote and couldn't understand how one wouldn't use the factor of 1/2 without completely disrupting the work-energy principle. Though, informal, energy is defined as the ...
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104 views

Why are the first three multiplicative SI prefixes lowercase?

The BIPM specifies twenty prefixes for the International System of Units (SI). All ten of the fractional prefixes are lowercase. However, only seven of the multiplicative prefixes are uppercase, the ...
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75 views

Are “galvanic” and “voltaic” synonymous?

The OED defines galvanism (coined ~1792) as Electricity developed by chemical action and voltaic (coined ~1813) as Used in producing electricity by chemical action after the method discovered by ...
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213 views

What is the history on the term 'co-domain'?

I am wondering if anyone knows any more on the history of the term 'co-domain' as it relates to functions. Two sources I found: Russell and Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, 1915, page 34 : the class ...
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194 views

What is the first recorded use of the word “scientia”?

Etymology dictionaries mention the word science coming from the latin word scientia from the XII century, but they don't reference any written piece where it was recorded. What's the first recorded ...
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444 views

Why are there so many German terms in the field of radiative transfer?

A lot of phenomena in radiative transfer are named after a person who studied them (Rayleigh scattering, Mie scattering, Bragg diffraction, Kikuchi lines, Tyndall effect,...). Others are designated by ...
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When was the function 1 + cos(x), aka the vercosine, given a name?

Nowadays, when one searches for little-known trigonometric functions, one usually finds a list containing the versine, coversine, vercosine, and covercosine. When using this list, $1+\cos(x)$ is given ...
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397 views

Why are complex numbers called 'complex'?

I'm a high school teacher, and I was just wondering why complex numbers are called 'complex'. I have read that Gauss coined the term. But I couldn't find any reference where it was explained. I also ...
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169 views

Could a “field” have non-commutative multiplication originally?

Today, when the term "field" is defined in algebra, it is almost always stipulated that all fields are commutative. However, the author of these lectures says that this has not always been the case: ...
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142 views

Why is a time series not called a time sequence?

In pure mathematics, a sequence is a list of terms, for instance $1, \frac12, \frac14, \dots, \frac{1}{2^k},\dots$, and a series is the sum of an infinite sequence, for instance $\sum_{k=1}^\infty \...
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265 views

What is the etymology of the mathematical terms “sheaf, stalk, germ”?

The peculiar agricultural terminology commonly used in algebraic geometry and category theory, "sheaf", "stalk", "germ", is quite well-known. A sheaf is pictured as something like a bundle of stalks, ...
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Origin of the term 'index of a subgroup'

The index of a subgroup $H$ in a group $G$ is the number of distinct cosets of $H$ in $G$. Why did someone decide to call this an 'index'?
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Why are faithful actions called faithful and who first called them faithful?

This is a cross post from MSE I want to know why are faithful actions called faithful and who first called them faithful? Definition: An action $G$ on $X$ is faithful when ${g_1 \neq g_2 \Rightarrow ...
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236 views

Who in history coined the term “character” of a group and why is it called so?

I first read the term in an introduction of Fourier transform on locally compact groups. In this article on Character of a group from Encyclopedia of Mathematics, a character of a group is defined as ...
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212 views

Why were equivalence classes named classes rather than sets?

If $R\subseteq A\times A$ is an equivalence relation (i.e., a relation that is reflexive on $A$, symmetric, and transitive), then for each element $x\in A$, the subset $[x]_R=\{y\in A: \langle x,y\...
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Etymology of certain terms in the theory of elliptic integrals

In the theory of elliptic integrals, one encounters the terms "amplitude" and "modular angle" in relation to incomplete integrals of the first kind, which are two variables that denote the upper limit ...
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What is a spacetime continuum?

A very common expression I see in pop science is "the spacetime continuum". This expression isn't commonly used in modern discussions of general relativity, but looking at some older papers on the ...
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What is the etymology of “phase space” of a dynamical system?

The state space of a dynamical system is often called a "phase space". What is the etymology of this? (Note that I'm not asking about the history of the concept, but rather about the history of the ...
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325 views

Why is one meter as long as it is?

The metre is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in 1/299 792 458 of a second Why is this so? Who decided that 1/299,792,458 of a ...
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What is the reasoning behind using “moment” in the “moment of inertia”?

Linear inertia is called mass. Rotational inertia is called moment of inertia. Moment of inertia is an odd choice for the term for this property. It doesn't seem to "fit" with the style or pattern of ...
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Is there a reason $⊑$ in CSP is analogous to $⊇$ (as opposed to $⊆$)?

The 'square' subset symbols are sometimes used to express analogous concepts to subsets, like prefixes or suffixes. However their use in CSP seems to be counterintuitive to their shape: $⊑$ appears ...
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250 views

What were the not-so-convincing reasons for using the word “power” for power sets?

A footnote of Enderton's Elements of Set Theory (1977, page 4) for the definition of power set states that the reasons for using the word "power" in this context are not very convincing, but the ...
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479 views

Why is the existential quantifier symbol ∃ a backwards “E”?

Peano introduced a number of logical symbols still used today: $∨$ (from Latin vel) $∧$ (inverted $∨$) $∃$ This inversion of Latin letters as symbols (and inversion of symbols to signify their '...

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