# Questions tagged [terminology]

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

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### Was a mathematical connection involved when introducing "graph" of a function and "graph" in graph theory?

A colleague and I were having a discussion about mathematical similarities between graphs of functions and graphs as used in graph theory: Simple graphs can be defined in terms of pair (of vertices), ...
1 vote
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### Why two words "summation" and "addition" do exist in literature?

We all come across these two words in literature: summation, addition. I personally do not know any difference between them and I view both of them the same in all mathematical aspects. Is there any ...
9k views

### Why was delta ($\Delta$) chosen to represent change of a quantity?

In many fields, it's common for $\Delta$ (the Greek letter delta) to represent a change or difference. Math uses it, physics uses it, engineering uses it, etc. Why was $\Delta$ chosen for this? I ...
339 views

### Why was the 'differential entropy' from information theory so named?

The entropy of a distribution $p$ on a discrete set $\mathcal{X}$ is defined as $$H(p) = -\sum_{x \in \mathcal{X}} p_x \log p_x.$$ Shannon in his classic paper [1] defines the analogue for continuous ...
297 views

### Why isn't the ${\gamma}^5$ matrix called ${\gamma}^4$?

This is not really a physical question, but it relates to notation in QED. The ${\gamma}^5$ matrix is defined as $${\gamma}^5=i{\gamma}^0 {\gamma}^1{\gamma}^2{\gamma}^3$$ Wouldn't it be more ...
1k views

### When was mercury given its name?

The Wikipedia page for mercury says that it was named after the Roman god because of his speed and mobility. When did the name mercury start to be used to designate the metal?
1k 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 ...
3k views

### How did the early chemists determine the atomic weight of hydrogen?

In early history, the relative atomic weight of hydrogen was assigned as 1 (exactly) and all other elements were compared against hydrogen. What is difficult to find who determined the absolute atomic ...
1k views

### 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 ...
529 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 ...
602 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 ...
313 views

### Why is the number of elements in a group called "order"?

This is a question that I have for a long time, Maybe it is something silly, but I really want to know. Why is the number of elements in a group called "order"? I mean, the word "order&...
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### Emmy Noether or Emmy Nöther?

Is it OK to write Emmy Nöther instead of Emmy Noether? I always assumed that the oe was an anglicization of ö (o with an umlaut). But when I look her up, I never see Nöther.
1 vote
221 views

### Origin of the term "field" (in "vector field")

I am reposting a thread from "physics stack exchange" : I was wondering - Why do we use the word "field" to describe a vector field? i.e., a field is "an expanse of open or ...
256 views

### 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 ...
192 views

### How long have people been debunking the P value (statistical significance) as commonly used in the human sciences: medicine, psychology and so on?

I have been puzzled for a long time at the way psychologists and medical researchers state that they have 'significant' results, and at the way this statement is relayed to the public who are misled ...
156 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 ...
11k 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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### 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'...
145 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.
248 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 ...
212 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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### 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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### 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 ...
58 views

### 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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### 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 ...
1 vote
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### 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"?
171 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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### 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 ...
373 views

### 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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### 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 ...
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 ...
254 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/...
1 vote
265 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 ...
508 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 ...