# Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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122 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 ...
138 views

### Origin of existential quantifier symbol ∃?

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 '...
112 views

### Why did Linnaeus equate the phoenix, the mythical bird, with Phoenix, a palm genus?

I've been reading about the "paradoxa" section of Carl Linnaeus's Systema Naturae, where he debunk some of the more far fetched ideas about animals. Wikipedia includes this translation of what ...
5k views

### Why do we call Tycho Brahe by his first name?

Why do we use the fist name in Tychonic system or Tycho's comet of 1577, instead of using the last name of Tycho Brahe? For comparison, we have the Ptolemaic system and the Copernican system. I am ...
2k views

### Are there widely accepted math symbols using non-Latin alphabets or characters other than Greek and Hebrew?

We have $\pi$ and $\aleph_0$ borrowed from Greek and Hebrew alphabets. Are there widely accepted math symbols using non-Latin alphabets or characters other than Greek and Hebrew? A related question ...
94 views

### Have orthogonal complex matrices appeared in the literature?

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthogonal_matrix, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitary_matrix, and Friedberg et al.'s Linear Algebra (4th edition), a matrix $A\in F^{n\times n}$ is ...
105 views

### Why positive definite matrix rather than positively definite matrix? [duplicate]

"Positive definite matrix" is a standard term in mathematics, espeically linear algebra. Are there grammatical, linguistic, or historical reasons why it was not called "positively definite matrix"?
48 views

### Who first gave a definition of congruent triangles?

Who was the first to define congruent triangles? I couldn't find the definition in Euclid's Elements.
136 views

### Why do we call it a “positive definite matrix” rather than a “positively definite matrix”?

The term positive definite matrix is a standard one used in mathematics, especially in linear algebra. Are there grammatical, linguistic, or historical reasons why it was not called a positively ...
102 views

### History of “independent and dependent variables”

I have a lot of questions that can be summed up by "whats the history of independent and dependent variables?" Here is a list of those questions: Where does our conception of independent and ...
1k views

### Who started calling the matrix multiplication “multiplication”?

As I searched for linear algebra, I found it odd that the linear map composition corresponds to the multiplication of matrices. Considering the intuition that the repetition of addition is ...
54 views

### How did the terms stress and strain come to describe two different things?

In physics, stress essentially captures forces in a body, where as strain captures displacements. Two dimensionally very different concepts. If you look it up in a thesaurus, stress and strain are ...
29 views

### History of Path algebras

I want some references that point the inventor of Path algebras and history/evolution of these algebras from the first idea. If possible. I tried to search in many different places, but all times, ...
96 views

### When did non-SI double prefixes go out of use?

In old physics and engineering publications from the 1950s or so, it's common to see non-SI "double prefixes", such as a "millimicrosecond pulse", or a "10 micromicrofarad" capacitor. These units are ...
118 views

### When did the term 'scientist, physicist, science, physicist' come in use?

Down to the eighteenth century physics was called philosophia naturalis, wheb and who introduced the terms Physics, Science and Scientist, and when did they supplant the old ones?
149 views

### Why are revolutions per minute (RPM) still used instead of hertz (Hz)?

When did people start using Revolutions per Minute (RPM) to measure motors, engines, other devices and where did the term originate? Why do we continue to use it instead of an SI unit like Hz? From ...
206 views

### Where did the term “set-builder notation” come from?

In math stack exchange I often see notations like $\{x\in\mathbb Q:x^2<2\}$ being called instances of set builder notation. When I went to school we (that is, I, my fellow students, my teachers, ...
75 views

### Where does the notion of “three crises of mathematics” come from? [duplicate]

Update: It can be traced back to Fraenkel-Bar-Hillel's Foundations of Set Theory, originally published in 1958. Further discussions can be seen at the linked question. The notion of "three crises of ...
28 views

### Usage of terms prior and posterior in probability

Probability function is of two types in general. They are unconditional probability and conditional probability. But the terms prior probability and posterior probability are used in place of ...
421 views

### Why are 'speed' and 'velocity' not given the same name?

Position is a vector. Distance/length is a name of its magnitude. Velocity is a vector. Speed is a name of its magnitude. Acceleration is a name of a vector and its magnitude. Force is a name of a ...
129 views

### First time the unique factorization theorem was called FTA

First of all, a comment, before this gets marked as a duplicate: I have searched this website for the question I’m asking and I’m aware that this exact question has been asked before. However, Eric ...
197 views

### Why was 'ordinate' adopted to signify y-coordinate?

The OED doesn't expound what semantic notions underlie y-coordinate and the Latin etymon. Etymology: < classical Latin ōrdinātus orderly, regular, regulated, (in geometry) in alignment, ...
101 views

### Origin of the “law of quadratic reciprocity”

Today, "reciprocity" is the standard mathematical word used for quadratic reciprocity and its generalizations. I found that the name dates back to no later than 1832, when a paper of Dirichlet (...
153 views

### Dimension of the candela unit: What does J stand for?

The J symbol can represent the unit of energy but it's also the symbol for the dimension of the candela (or luminous intensity). For the energy unit, it clearly comes from the family name of the ...
107 views

### Conventional orientation of axes in scientific plots

In an answer to a programming question, I included the following: The default behavior of [library function in question that displays an image] is to put the origin of the coordinate system in the ...
90 views

### Why was Indicial equations named so?

In ODE, in Frobenius method, there's an equation called "Indicial Equation." Is there any particular contextual/historical reason that it is named so?
135 views

### Why are “join” and “meet” named as they are?

In the context of partially ordered sets, why are the words for supremum and infimum "join" and "meet"? I find the nomenclature puzzling, especially since the English words "join" and "meet" are ...
111 views

### How did the use of the word “origin” become commonplace in geometry?

My understanding is that in Cartesian geometry, all coordinate axes of an n-dimensional space may intersect at one point. I would like to know how that point--whether (0, 0), (0,0,0), ... -- came to ...
137 views

### Why is the meaning of “linear” different in school and college use?

Is the map $y=2x+3$ linear? "Of course it is." -- a high school teacher will answer. "Nope; it's affine, but not linear." -- a college student will contradict. This difference terminology that ...
168 views

### What animals or plants were used to illustrate ideas of physics?

This crossed my mind today... There is Schrödinger's cat and Newton's apple. Are there any other famous animals/plants featured in physics in a similar way?
3k views

### What is the status of the three crises in the history of mathematics?

I have seen a claim in some literature that there are three crises in the history of mathematics. The first is the discovery of $\sqrt2$ being irrational in Greek time which shook the belief that ...
133 views

### How is the word kernel associated with distributions?

I am trying to rationalize the meaning of the term kernel, especially when it is associated with distributions. The English and German etymology all show that the literal meaning is corn (English) and ...
74 views

### When did the term “order” come into use as the highest exponent in an expansion?

Answer(s) to the question What is a 3rd-order Fresnel lens? are disappointing to me, in that the term 3rd order does not refer to anything like a third-order series expansion. But this leads me to a ...
119 views

### Origin and use of the adjective “improper” in mathematics

Anybody with elementary mathematical education will have seen improper fractions to refer to fractions where the numerator is greater than or equal to the denominator. At a certain point in calculus ...
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### How did early physicists experimentally assign electronic transitions in atoms?

The spectrum of hydrogen was very well studied by the mid-19th century. However, if one were doing experimental spectroscopy for more complex atoms, one would see plenty of spectral lines in the ...
170 views

### 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 ...
30 views

### 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 ...
93 views

### 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)...
55 views

### 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'...
357 views

### 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 (...
296 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 ...
148 views

### 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 ...
201 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 "...
454 views

### 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 ...
317 views

### 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 ...
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 ...