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Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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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 ...
KCd's user avatar
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Who was the first to use the "does not exist" sign ∄?

Who was the first to use the "does not exist" sign ∄? I'm aware that Giuseppe Peano originated serifed ∃ and, moreover that Whitehead and Russell repurposed Peano's serifed ∃; I'm also aware that ...
אהרן רובין's user avatar
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460 views

Whence “homomorphism”, “homomorphic”?

The kernel question leads to another : Today, homomorphism (resp. isomorphism) means what Jordan (1870) had called isomorphism (resp. holoedric isomorphism). How did the switch happen? “Homomorphic” ...
Francois Ziegler's user avatar
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262 views

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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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 ...
ACR's user avatar
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Is $\Gamma^i_{jk}$ the Christoffel symbol or the Christoffel symbols?

For years, I have been perplexed that the expression $\Gamma^i_{jk}$ is often referred to in the plural as "the Christoffel symbols", although sometimes it is referred to in the singular as "the ...
Alan U. Kennington's user avatar
5 votes
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206 views

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 ...
Nau's user avatar
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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'...
Jason Hemann's user avatar
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180 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 ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
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Origin of the Hankel contour?

Who was the first to publish a Hankel contour integral? See notes in my answer to the MO-Q How does one motivate the analytic continuation of the Riemann zeta function?.
Tom Copeland's user avatar
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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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Terminology associated with mathematical induction

In "Number: The Language of Science" (1930), Tobias Dantzig refers to what we call the base case of mathematical induction as "the induction step" (and refers to what we call the ...
James Propp's user avatar
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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 ...
Enrique Mendez's user avatar
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168 views

Who was the first to use the term field in physics?

Faraday, after drawing his lines of force in 19th century, is normally credited as the first to use the term field in physics. But... ... was not the term field used in the context of gravitational ...
Diracology's user avatar
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Who coined the term Orthonormal?

Does anyone know who coined the term orthonormal to refer to a basis that is orthogonal and normal? In such a poorly named mathematical world (looking at you, conditionally convergent series) I think ...
I love orthonormal's user avatar
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89 views

The term "constant" in "integration by parts" ("partielle Integration")

In Riemann's "Ueber die Darstellbarkeit einer Function durch eine trigonometrische Reihe", Riemann mentions taking a factor as "constant" in "partial integration", which ...
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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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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 ...
Jason Hemann's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
95 views

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'?
Nick Decroos's user avatar
3 votes
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Old geometry terminology

I was reading Ramsey's 1927 paper "A Contribution to the Theory of Taxation" and came across the following paragraph: "We have $\lambda_1 = \mu_1,\ldots,\lambda_m = \mu_m$, $m$ hyperplanes ($n-1$ ...
Zed's user avatar
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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, ...
J.G.'s user avatar
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What is the name given to the principle that guides mathematical conventions like the product of two negative numbers is positive

I recall that I read---in a book by Constance Reid---of a named principle that guided the arithmetic conventions that applied to operations on newly discovered mathematical objects. For example, when ...
chandra's user avatar
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373 views

Etymology of 'qubit'; is there any relation to cubits?

Whilst several not-very-authoritative sources e.g. Wikipedia state that the word qubit was derived, partially, as a play on the word cubit (obviously it also stands for 'quantum bit'), is there any ...
Toby Hawkins's user avatar
3 votes
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191 views

Why are rings called rings?

I copied the question from https://math.stackexchange.com/q/61497/378968 because I think it is more suitable for this site and I think an answer to this question here could do better than: Hilbert ...
Ernesto Iglesias's user avatar
3 votes
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297 views

History of the Wreath product

Why is the wreath product so named? If possible, please provide a citation.
user1941's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
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 ...
Lee Mosher's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
137 views

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 ...
Bhavya Jain's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
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 ...
pokssin's user avatar
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71 views

Who coined the name "cosmological constant"?

I am aware that Albert Einstein first added the $\Lambda$-term to his field equations in his 1917 paper "Cosmological considerations in the general theory of relativity" (german: "...
Octavius's user avatar
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66 views

When was Lipschitz equivalence first attributed to Lipschitz or did Lipschitz formulate it himself?

In his book Introduction to Metric and Topological Spaces, author Wilson A Sutherland in explaining the equivalence of metrics invoked the definition: Two metrics $d_1, d_2$ on a set $X$ will be ...
User1865345's user avatar
2 votes
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512 views

When was the term "Sparingly soluble" first introduced in chemistry?

This question is inspired from: Why do we call salts such as AgCl sparingly soluble? The extent of solubility can be expressed as descriptive terms. U.S. Pharmacopoeia has made the following ...
Nilay Ghosh's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
41 views

At what point did "Archean" go from meaning the entire Precambrian to just the middle part?

I can't find the exact date when the Archean began to mean "the middle of the Precambrian", as opposed to the beginning or the whole thing. It is some time after 1925 and before 1972. ...
Spencer's user avatar
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107 views

Context of the discovery of ultraproducts

Łoś's theorem is a fundamental theorem in model theory (a branch of mathematical logic). Historical question: What was Łoś's original motivation to define ultraproducts and prove Łoś's theorem? Which ...
user16485's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
611 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 ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
107 views

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 ...
C.F.G's user avatar
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0 answers
715 views

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 $b$, ...
Watson's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
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origin of the terms "domain" and "range"?

A 1929 paper of Chittenden contains the following sentence (about the derived set operator on a space $P$): “Thus the relation $E' = K(E)$ defines a single-valued set-valued set-function, whose ...
mathematrucker's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
93 views

Why is $\eta$ used in $\eta$-conversion?

In lambda calculus there are three types of reduction, $\alpha$-renaming $\beta$-reduction $\eta$-conversion The use of $\eta$ in $\eta$-conversion seems rather strange to me. Since they already ...
Sriotchilism O'Zaic's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
255 views

Set Theory, onto and into their relation to spoken language definitions

Does anyone know how the definitions for onto and into map to the spoken language definitions of the words? I compared the Bourbaki definitions to these words and have a suspicion that the German ...
Nick's user avatar
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0 answers
138 views

What is the history of why electrical circuit diagrams list positive as the direction of electron flow?

In the study of electrical engineering circuit diagrams it is usually the norm to show the + ( positive ) polarity as the direction of motion. However in reality the electron is the elementary ...
Sedumjoy's user avatar
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2 votes
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97 views

Which is the first reference using the terminology "Chinese Remainder Theorem" for this theorem?

The Chinese Remainder Theorem is one of the fundamental theorems in modular arithmetic. As far as I know, this terminology for the theorem is due to the fact that the Chinese mathematicians were the ...
Josué Tonelli-Cueto's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
48 views

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 ...
eyoung100's user avatar
  • 111
1 vote
0 answers
41 views

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?
shamisen's user avatar
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105 views

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 ...
Mauricio's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
51 views

Dissemination of Calculus in China

Much has already been written about the dissemination of Euclidean geometry into China: https://www.maa.org/press/periodicals/convergence/mathematical-treasure-euclid-in-china, https://academic.oup....
D.R's user avatar
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1 vote
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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 ...
scarface's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
66 views

Poisson's laws for adiabatic processes

I've been reading about Thermodynamics lately. The set of equations satisfied in an adiabatic process (and also more generally in polytropic ones) is: $$p_1V_1^\gamma = p_2V_2^\gamma$$ $$T_1V_1^{\...
sware's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote
0 answers
303 views

Katz's symbol 兄 for Gauss-Manin connections

In his famous 1970 paper [1], Nicholas Katz used the character 兄 for the Gauss-Manin connection. I have always been curious about the history behind this symbol. Question: What motivated Katz to use ...
lzww's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
116 views

Why is 'total angular momentum' denoted by the letter $J$ in quantum mechanics?

In quantum mechanics, we say $J$ ('total angular momentum') = $L$ ('orbital angular momentum') + $S$ ('spin angular momentum'). Apparently $S$ is from 'Spin', but why $J$ for the total angular ...
edpidufd's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
101 views

Who coined the term "sulphuretted hydrogen"?

Hydrogen sulfide was previously named "sulphuretted hydrogen" but I can't find the person who named/coined it. Although Carl Wilhelm Scheele is credited to have discovered and isolated the ...
Nilay Ghosh's user avatar