Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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9
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1answer
425 views

What caused the name change from “analysis situs” to “topology”?

J. Alexander's 1926 paper, Combinatorial Analysis Situs, doesn't refer to the field as combinatorial topology. He mentions that combinatorial analysis situs is concerned with topological invariants ...
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52 views

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
114 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
2k views

What is the origin of the term “ordinary differential equations”?

Who has first used the term "ordinary differential equation"? Is it known, why the term "ordinary" is used here? What makes an ODE "ordinary"?
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1answer
131 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: ...
3
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1answer
222 views

Jordan called isomorphisms (iso.) and homomorphisms “iso. holoedriques” and “iso. meriedriques” respectively; translation of holoe/meried-driques?

Stillwell mentions in his Elements of Algebra: The first to use the term "isomorphism" was Jordan, in his Traite des Substitutions [1870], the first textbook on group theory...Jordan used the word "...
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1answer
829 views

Why is the Heaviside step function named after Heaviside?

The Heaviside step function is usually defined as $$ \theta(x)=\left\{\begin{array}{ll}0&\text{if }x<0\\\tfrac12&\text{if }x=0\\1&\text{if }x>0.\\\end{array}\right. $$ It is ...
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2answers
849 views

History of the definition of Injective & Surjective Function

I'm a college student, just beginning to study Elementary Set Theory. In studying about the definition of injective and surjective function, out of curiosity, it came to my mind a question about the ...
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1answer
568 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 ...
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1answer
127 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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119 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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156 views

Origin of Gauss-Newton method

The Gauss-Newton method can be derived from Newton's method, but I am unable to see how Gauss was linked with this method. It seems unlikely that he himself worked on the method, but I am at a loss.
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229 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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78 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'?
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1answer
226 views

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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1answer
151 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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1k views

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 ...
4
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1answer
221 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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54 views

Why is faithful actions called faithful and who first called it faithful?

This is a cross post from MSE I want to know why is faithful actions called faithful and who first called it faithful? Definition: An action $G$ on $X$ is faithful when ${g_1 \neq g_2 \Rightarrow ...
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1answer
175 views

Who coined the term “machine learning”?

A lot of sources attribute the definition to Arthur Samuel (1959), "the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed", but none of these sources ...
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1answer
159 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 ...
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6answers
264 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?
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168 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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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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51 views

Why is a linear equation in 3 variables called 'linear'? [duplicate]

I have read that an equation of form 0=Ax+By+C is called linear because its graph is a straight line. But why is the equation 0=Ax+By+Cz+D also called linear even though its graph is a straight plane?...
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1answer
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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 was Lebesgue's original definition of a measurable set?

I found an interesting question on Math SE asked by @Dilemian that seems more on topic here, and since it lacks answers there I thought to post it here so that it can receive good answers here. There ...
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2answers
123 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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2answers
1k views

Why is kinetic energy denoted by the letter $T$ in quantum mechanics?

Kinetic energy is often written as $K$, $KE$ or $E_k$. Where does $T$ come from in quantum mechanics? Why and how did it come to be different?
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101 views

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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1answer
131 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 ...
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1answer
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 ...
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4answers
3k 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 ...
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2answers
110 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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153 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 ...
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264 views

What is the first usage of the term “Adjoint” and why was this word chosen?

The term "Adjoint" appears in many different mathematical areas and for sometimes seemingly different kinds of things. Wikipedia says -- "In mathematics, the term adjoint applies in several ...
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1answer
83 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.
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109 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"?
6
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1answer
176 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 ...
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1answer
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 ...
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56 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 ...
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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, ...
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1answer
103 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 ...
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3answers
124 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?
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168 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 ...
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289 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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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 ...
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1answer
507 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 ...
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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 ...

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