Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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13
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4answers
10k views

Who first used the word “calculus”, and what did it describe?

This comment cites Wikipedia in stating that, before the development of the modern-day subject of calculus (i.e. analysis), the term "calculus" referred to general mathematics. Who first used the ...
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1answer
115 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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0answers
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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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1answer
88 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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4answers
163 views

What was the definition of a scientist and how did it evolve? When was science categorized?

I'm asking this question as I've noticed that scientists like Gauss, Newton, Euler, Lagrange etc developed theories in many scientific fields(these ones that I know of were mostly interested in math ...
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153 views

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

Down to the eighteenth century physics was called philosophia naturalis. When were the terms Physics, Science and Scientist, introduced? By whom? When did they supplant the old ones?
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1answer
84 views

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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Why are étale morphisms called “étale”?

Alexander Grothendieck developed the theory of "locally trivial coverings spaces for rings/schemes" in SGAI as an analog to the theory of covering spaces in algebraic topology. He called such ...
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1answer
131 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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51 views

Aristotle's and Plato's even and odd numbers, sets and actual infinity [closed]

Plato and Aristotle both use the terms even and odd about numbers (and have a separate discussion of the number 1). From this point, it seems, there would be no great distance to the sets of even and ...
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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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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
114 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"?
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2answers
131 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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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1answer
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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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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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91 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 ...
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1answer
147 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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1answer
308 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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1answer
98 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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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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1answer
86 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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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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59 views

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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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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1answer
146 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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83 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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Who first defined the “equal-delta” or “delta over equal” ($\triangleq$) symbol?

The symbol $\triangleq$ is sometimes used in mathematics (and physics) for a definition. It is instantiated for instance in the Unicode Character 'DELTA EQUAL TO' (U+225C). The notation $t \triangleq ...
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1answer
202 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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Who was the first to use the phrase “the standard model” of something?

I was doing some reading on stellar structure, and I noticed the phrase "the standard solar model" used to describe the structure of the Sun, and stars in general. It reminded me of the Standard Model ...
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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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2answers
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Why is magnetic flux density named after Nikola Tesla?

I have my respect for Mr Tesla, but it seems weird that "he" was chosen to be the units of magnetic flux density. I mean, he didn't contribute much to magnetic fields theory, nor did he work ...
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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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1answer
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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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1answer
96 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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3answers
205 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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3answers
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History of the term innovation and its difference with invention?

Today, research and science is often associated to innovation (particularly by governments and funding agencies). I would like to understand how we got here and when the use of innovation as 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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1answer
196 views

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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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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447 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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220 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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1answer
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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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1answer
148 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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395 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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1answer
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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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1answer
432 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, ...
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1answer
801 views

When did the names of scientists first become the names of scientific units?

Many scientific units are named after scientists, for example, Tesla for magnetic flux Farad for capacitance Newton for force. When did the tradition of naming scientific units begin?
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How was the term speed treated in the 16th and 17th centuries?

What did people in the 16th and 17th centuries mean by the term speed? Did they have $$\text{speed} = \frac{ \text{distance} }{ \text{time} }$$ back then? Or did they have some other notion of speed ...

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