Skip to main content

Questions tagged [terminology]

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

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
4 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
Dylan Kerler's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
13k views

Was the word 'gravity' an invention of Newton?

Before Newton many phycisists try to understand nature and the rotations of planets. But Newton founded his laws of gravity. But was he the first who used the word gravity or when was it first used? ...
Marijn 's user avatar
  • 383
4 votes
6 answers
924 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?
user1583209's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
3k 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?
Arch Stanton's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why is the letter $b$ used to represent the y-intercept in the equation of straight line?

The slope-intercept form of a non-vertical line is $y=mx+b$. I have been told that the slope is called $m$ because it is the first letter of the French word for mountain. But why is there the letter $...
user107952's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
365 views

How did Gaussian and Eisenstein integers get their names?

I can separate this into two questions at some point if necessary, but it's possible that sources for the answer to one will provide the answer to the other at the same time. I learned about ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 2,207
4 votes
2 answers
185 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 ...
modnar's user avatar
  • 585
4 votes
3 answers
272 views

What was the significance of Eisenstein's discovery of invariants?

I am trying to decipher a portion of James Joseph Sylvester's 1869 address entitled "The Study That Knows Nothing of Observation", which, among other things, surveys the landscape of 19th century ...
Doubt's user avatar
  • 477
4 votes
2 answers
633 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 ...
usernumber's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
936 views

Where does the name "geometric sequence" come from?

On this and other Stack Exchange website, there have been question about the so-called geometric series, and where its name comes from. My problem is that most answers follow one of two different ...
Rodrigo A. Pérez's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
213 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 ...
Matthew Christopher Bartsh's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
350 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 ...
Mr. G-Man's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
747 views

Grassmann Formula

I'm in my first year of Mathematics at the University. Recently, we've learnt about Grassmann Formula and when I was making a little research on the internet, I couldn't find a single reference ...
Elías Guisado Villalgordo's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
403 views

Who are credited for angle transformation formulae and law of sines in trignometry

I'd like to who are credited for discovering angle transformation formulae $$ \sin(A\pm B)=\sin(A)\cos( B)\pm\cos(A)\sin(B) $$ $$ \cos(A\pm B)=\cos(A)\cos( B)\mp\sin(A)\sin(B) $$ $$ \tan(A\pm B)=\...
Eugene Zhang's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
535 views

What is the origin of "law of excluded middle"?

Reading an article I have stumbled across the concept of law of excluded middle. Wikipedia mentions that original expression is principium tertii exclusi which ...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
207 views

History and origin of the Iso-, Sec-, Tert- and Neo- prefixes?

I have studied the prefixes "Iso-", "Sec-", "Tert-" and "Neo-" for a long time in chemistry but wonder where they originate from i.e. where is the place (the ...
Bhavya Jain's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
286 views

Hamiltonian $H$ named after Huygens?

This seems an unlikely origin of the abbreviation $H$ for Hamiltonian. Is there evidence for this nomenclature?
Carlo Beenakker's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
130 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 ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
401 views

Where does "the grating equation" come from? Does it have a another name?

What we often refer to as Snell's law: $$n_1 \sin(\theta_1) - n_2 \sin(\theta_2) = 0$$ has quite a bit of history behind it. It can be demonstrated in several ways, one of which is by asserting that ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 2,207
4 votes
1 answer
453 views

Who coined the term "immune system"?

Who coined the term "immune system"? The OED lists the following as its earliest example of the term "immune system": 1943 Science 30 Apr. 406/1Complement..is removed by the addition of an ...
Geremia's user avatar
  • 5,401
4 votes
1 answer
128 views

Were integrals really called solution curves (or vice versa)?

For some reason I recall hearing that around the time Euler wrote his Calculus books (1768-1770), or even before then, what we call integrals now were called solution cuvres (or even possibly the ...
Irregular User's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
369 views

Origin of the terminology “trace operator” related to boundary-value problems for PDEs

Important results in the theory of PDEs regarding boundary-value problems are trace and extension theorems. Since the trace operator (not to be confused with the trace from linear algebra) essentially ...
Jules Lamers's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
1k views

Analysis vs Synthesis in Greek Mathematics

I am trying to understand the difference in "analysis" and "synthesis" as used by the ancient Greek mathematicians. Most sources characterize synthesis as working from givens to a desired conclusion, ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
121 views

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 ...
user2554's user avatar
  • 4,499
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Origin of the word "vector" [closed]

I would like to know the history and the original meaning of the word "vector". Thank you for any hints.
Pavel's user avatar
  • 41
4 votes
1 answer
173 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.
denis's user avatar
  • 143
4 votes
2 answers
157 views

Who assigned the name "work" to the quantity $\int F\,{\rm d}r$?

I am looking into the historical perspective of how the concept of work and energy came about: who coined the terms "mechanical work" and "energy", and how the concept evolved over time. I know that ...
user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
72 views

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 ...
Fnifni's user avatar
  • 141
4 votes
0 answers
125 views

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
4 votes
0 answers
354 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
  • 41
4 votes
0 answers
66 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 ...
Enrique Mendez's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
169 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
3 votes
1 answer
255 views

On early US patriotism to choose quark color charge labels

Sean Carroll has a video about gauge theory (2020) in his series about Greatest Ideas of the Universe, where he claims that early in the development of quantum chromodynamics, some physicists tried to ...
Mauricio's user avatar
  • 3,977
3 votes
2 answers
2k views

Who Invented The Number Line?

Recently, I came across this article and wondered if there really is a definitive answer to the question of who invented the number line?
user 20458579510081670432's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
668 views

Why is it called the butterfly effect?

The pop-sci answer is that Lorenz characterised chaotic atmospheric dynamics with the hypothetical example of a butterfly's flapping wings changing whether a tornado results. However, since butterfly-...
J.G.'s user avatar
  • 1,730
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

What word meaning "random" was used before the word "random" got popularized?

In the What is Random? vlog of the Vsauce channel, Michael says (start from 3:25): In the 1300s, random meant running or at great speed. Later, it would be used to describe things that have no ...
Ooker's user avatar
  • 1,238
3 votes
3 answers
314 views

First mention of Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic

Without a Disquisitiones Arithmeticae at hand, I may ask... When the unique factorization theorem was first called the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic?
André LFS Bacci's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
102 views

Historically, when were the terrestrial planets first called terrestrial planets?

I asked this on the Astronomy Stack Exchange, but it's probably better suited here—When did we start using the phrase "terrestrial planets" to refer to the inner planets in English ...
oaklight37's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
786 views

Origin and use of the adjective "improper" in mathematics

Anybody with elementary mathematical education will have seen improper fractions to refer to fractions where the numerator is greater than or equal to the denominator. At a certain point in calculus ...
Easymode44's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
411 views

Why are permutations ($_nP_r$) called differently in non-English languages ("variations" in German)?

First of all, you should be at least a little familiar with combinatorics to understand that question. Some often used calculator keys in stochastic are the nCr and nPr ones. Edit: I've first asked ...
rugk's user avatar
  • 133
3 votes
1 answer
435 views

When was a partition of unity discovered?

A partition of unity is a mathematical concept in geometry. I want to know when and in what context this concept appeared.
user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
252 views

Do the words 'graphing' a function and 'graph' theory have a common ancestor?

When saying graph in mathematics, it can be either a graph of a function, or a graph in graph theory. However mathematically they have nothing in common. How did they get the same name? I know graph ...
wythagoras's user avatar
  • 3,122
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the etymology of the term "mode" in statistics?

I saw that the word "mode" means "popular" in French, and I was wondering if this might be the etymology of the "mode" of a population in stat? I was wondering if anyone had sources for early use of ...
yberman's user avatar
  • 173
3 votes
1 answer
598 views

Name of the Gamma function

The Gamma function for positive arguments can be defined with the integral $$ \Gamma(\alpha) = \int_0^\infty x^{\alpha-1} e^{-x}\,dx $$ The function $ x^{\alpha-1} e^{-x} $ is called the Gamma ...
b_jonas's user avatar
  • 135
3 votes
2 answers
700 views

Introduction of $\imath$ and $\jmath$ notations for the imaginary unit

The imaginary unit is generally denoted $i$ or $\imath$. I have learned that the term imaginary ("imaginaires") was coined by R. Descartes in 1637, and the "i" notation was introduced by L. Euler (cf. ...
Laurent Duval's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
334 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 "...
bzm3r's user avatar
  • 341
3 votes
1 answer
769 views

Why is the Mean Value Theorem (of holomorphic functions) called "Gauss's"?

A handy special case of the Cauchy Integral Formula says that, if a complex function $f$ is analytic on and inside a circle of radius $r$ around $a$, $$f(a) = \frac{1}{2\pi}\int_0^{2\pi} f(a +re^{it}) ...
Torsten Schoeneberg's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
561 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 ...
Akiva Weinberger's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
212 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 ...
Bernardo Sulzbach's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the etymology of lower case p as the operator for the negative of the common logarithm?

In high school we were taught that the formula for pH is the negative of the common logarithm of hydrogen ion concentration: pH = -log[H+]. It wasn't until I took organic chemistry that the "acid ...
Syntax Junkie's user avatar

1 2 3
4
5
8