# Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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### Origin of the concept of "impulse"

Question: So, I recently looked back into my physics textbook and found the concept of "impulse" there. Now, upon reading the explanation in the textbook and several definitions online, I ...
754 views

### Why is the Mean Value Theorem (of holomorphic functions) called "Gauss's"?

A handy special case of the Cauchy Integral Formula says that, if a complex function $f$ is analytic on and inside a circle of radius $r$ around $a$, f(a) = \frac{1}{2\pi}\int_0^{2\pi} f(a +re^{it}) ...
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### Did Kronecker's "ganzen Zahlen" refer to whole numbers as natural numbers or integers?

Maybe this is a question better for German language Stack Exchange, but in the quote attributed to Kronecker: Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk. So "...
44 views

### Where does the term "reflection" come from?

Earlier today, I was asked why a motion of the plane that fixes a line of points is called a reflection and I was stumped for an answer. The best explanation I can think of is that the image of a ...
446 views

### 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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### The Root of a Geometric Progression

Good people! I'm presently in the process of putting something together on Euler and Gauss and cyclotomy and modular arithmetic, and I noticed that when it comes to the terminology primitive root ...
1 vote
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### Help With Understanding of Constants in Zeller's Congruence

If this would be better suited over on the Mathematics Exchange, please move it appropriately. I thought I would start here for the history type aspect Background I'm currently working as a Data ...
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### Which mathematical concepts do not have any obvious origin outside mathematics?

Some mathematical concepts, such as that of number and that of geometrical figure, presumably originate from pre-existing notions already used by at least some non-mathematicians. Others seem to have ...
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### When did they start requiring holotypes for species description?

I know they weren't required in the early 1800s but obviously they are now so just wondering when this started being required and/or who coined holotype. Internet research yielded no good answers.
1 vote
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### F = ma -- How was did we come to understand that this compact form expressed what Newton said in words?

My understanding is, Newton in the 17th century did not use this formula but rather said, in words basically that if you apply a force it will cause a mass to accelerate in the direction of that force....
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### Sparse matrix ("matrice creuse") etymology in French

I am looking for the etymology of matrice creuse. According to Wikipedia, it seems James Joseph Sylvester used the term "matrix" in 1850, and Harry Markowitz used the term "sparse ...
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### Where is Fock on Klein-Gordon equation?

I was researching a bit about the history of the famous Klein-Gordon equation and I found out that Fock also independently discovered it in the same year as Klein and Gordon, 1926. However, ...
87 views

### Origin of "Sierpinski space"?

Nowadays the unique 2 point, nondiscrete, nontrivial topological space goes by the name of the Sierpinski space. How did that space come to be named after Sierpinski? The comments to this MathOverflow ...
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### Were molecules called atoms in the 19th century?

E.g. a quote from Justus von Liebig, 17th Chemical Letter, 1858, in German: Wir können ein Stück Zucker, auch wenn wir es noch so fein reiben, nicht flüssig machen, noch viel weniger können wir durch ...
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### Definition and name change of the oscillation function

I have two related questions: Who first defined the oscillation function (perhaps under a different name)? When did the switch from the phrase "saltus function"(*) to "oscillation ...
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### A brief history of "delocalization" of electrons

I have been studying the concepts of "resonance" and "mesomerism" recently and a common principle of these concepts is the "delocalization" (of electrons, molecular ...
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### History and origin of the Iso-, Sec-, Tert- and Neo- prefixes?

I have studied the prefixes "Iso-", "Sec-", "Tert-" and "Neo-" for a long time in chemistry but wonder where they originate from i.e. where is the place (the ...
316 views

### How did the concept of pH originate and develop?

Background & My research To begin I did some research to find a few articles on the history of pH namely "The Symbol for pH"- William B. Jensen, "One-Hundred Years of pH" - ...
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### Instances in which a term initially coined to reject a theory later became the widely accepted term for that very theory after it became the consensus

I'm looking for an instance other than that of the 'big bang' — a term coined by Fred Hoyle to reject the theory being referred to. The theory also later went on to become the consensus with the very ...
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### Origin of the concepts of Stress and Strain

Background & My research So, I recently studied about the concepts of Stress and Strain in my high school physics classes and wanted to know about the history behind the origin and emergence of ...
162 views

### The reason why sheaf theory emerged

Motivation: In any history, there is a cause-and-effect relationship. So I became curious about the situation in which the sheaf theory came to appear. In other words, I'm curious about what problem ...
1 vote
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### Usage of the word "autonomous" to refer to time-invariant differential equations

At what point in time did the term "autonomous" begin to signify time-invariance within the context of dynamical systems, and what prompted this association?
1 vote
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### Who came up with the Darwinian demon?

I know of Maxwell's, Descartes' and Laplace's demons but I recently found out that there is Darwinian one. I do not think that this demon appears in the works of Charles Darwin. Do you know who may ...
254 views

### On early US patriotism to choose quark color charge labels

Sean Carroll has a video about gauge theory (2020) in his series about Greatest Ideas of the Universe, where he claims that early in the development of quantum chromodynamics, some physicists tried to ...
1 vote
183 views

### Was "potency set" used for power set?

Cross posted at Math Overflow For historical reasons, the English term "power set" in set theory is a translation of the German "Potenzmenge", which is still in use in German ...
1 vote
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### Why energy rate did not replace power = Force times velocity?

After reading the history of horse power (and power), the physical definitions for them and after testing the theory in rally races, I'm curious what were the reasons for selecting this word (power) ...
2k views

### Etymology of "power" (math.)

Having done some searches on the internet, seems like the term "power" is a mistranslation. The Wikipedia article links to an article in the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive where it is written ...
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### Why Serre need to develop the concept of "sheaf theory" in algebraic geometry? [duplicate]

I read Edward Frenkel's Love and Math. But reanding this book made me wonder about origin of the concept of the sheaf used in algebraic geometry. I think the conclusion that I came to in the process ...
1 vote
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### 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 ...
203 views

### The origin of $∂^2=0$ and $d^2=0$

I know that formula $∂^2=0$ and $d^2=0$ very important in the homology and cohomology theory. And I understand that this formula was generated from the process of finding a solution to the partial ...
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### Etymology of "discrete" in mathematics

People sometimes make a distinction between continuous mathematics and discrete mathematics. Continuous mathematics study objects that abstract the notion of a continuum and typical examples are the ...
1 vote
234 views

### Who introduced the terminology “nondecreasing” for weakly increasing (i.e. x≤y ⇒ f(x)≤f(y)), and when/why?

Arguably one of the most hated parts of English mathematical terminology is the word “nondecreasing”, referring to a function such that $x\leq y \;\Rightarrow\; f(x)\leq f(y)$ (what other conventions ...
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### What's the difference between Galileo's "impeto" and "momento"?

In Galileo's Two New Sciences, he describes an experiment demonstrating pendulum motion and how the pendulum will rise to the same height from where it started its fall. This discussion can be found ...
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### Who first introduced the term "necessary condition" in mathematical language?

I recently delved into a discussion about a statement attributed to the renowned mathematician and philosopher, Benjamin Peirce. In this statement, he refers to mathematics as "the science that ...
63 views

### Who was the first to use bijections?

I know that Bourbaki were the first who used the word 'bijection', but one-to one functions were for sure used before them. So do you aware of the earliest examples of one-to-one correspondences?
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### How did the concept of local field emerge and develop in mathematics?

When I was studying class field theory, I saw local class field theory. However, I suddenly became curious about local fields, not local class field theory. As far as I know, the local field is the ...
1 vote
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### 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 ...
1 vote
43 views

### Origin of $V_a$ (median) notation

My question about median of a triangle. The English equivalent of the Turkish word "kenarortay" is "median". In English-language geometry sources (like books or web pages), the ...
115 views

### What is the origin of the "red, green, yellow" quark color convention?

In physics, quarks come in one of three color states, usually chosen to be called, "red", "green", and "blue". However, because these are just labels, there are other ...
1 vote
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### In a survey of historical science has anyone studied the propensity of other departments to co-opt scientific terminology to further their own ideas?

For example, Albert Einstein complained that sociology departments across the quad were using his theory of relativity to advance the idea of "relativistic morality." The meaning of ...
2k 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 ...
246 views

### Who first called $\mathrm e$ "Euler's number"?

Euler is usually credited with denoting this number with the letter $\mathrm e$. But It seems unlikely that Euler chose the letter because it is the initial of his own name, as occasionally been ...
1 vote
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### Light propagated instantaneously rather than gradually

In the following paper from I. Bernard Cohen, "Roemer and the First Determination of the Velocity of Light (1676)" published on Isis (1940): Can be read: explaining that the delay would ...
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### When was the term "union" first used?

I found out that the symbol for union, ∪, was created in 1895 by Giuseppe Peano in his Formulario Mathematico but of course the use of the word "union" in mathematics was older. Do you have a ...
3k 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 ...
2k views

### What is the etymology of the term space-time?

I'm looking for the earliest references to the word space-time (in the modern sense), in any language. The first references would likely be in German, as Raum-Zeit or Raumzeit. Of course, H. Minkowski ...
2k views

### What is the story behind various uses of the word "spectrum"?

Here are five distinct uses of the word spectrum in physics and mathematics: Spectrum (optics): The range of colors in the rainbow Spectrum (particle physics): The range of electromagnetic ...