Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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0answers
81 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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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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195 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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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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Why are contravariant and covariant vectors called such when they very definitely aren't such?

It's still very common in the physical literature of general relativity to come across the term contravariant and covariant vectors. This is quite confusing since we have a well-known and generally ...
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428 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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163 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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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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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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67 views

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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88 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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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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385 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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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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360 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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768 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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Why is the thermoelectric figure of merit denoted by $ZT$?

Why is the thermoelectric figure of merit denoted by $Z T$? Does $Z T$ come from the abbreviation of words in some language? Update: So far, $T$ has been figured out — it is the temperature, to make ...
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1answer
441 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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146 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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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
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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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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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844 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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922 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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635 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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138 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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126 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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159 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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237 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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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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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
222 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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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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161 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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268 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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171 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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