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In British English, which one is correct? Does one parameterise a curve or parametrise it?

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migrated from math.stackexchange.com Aug 28 '12 at 22:29

This question came from our site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields.

I have been using parametrize – Santosh Linkha Aug 28 '12 at 8:36
The main heading in the Oxford English Dictionary says "parameterize"; the other possibilities are also recorded: "parameterise", "parametrise", "parametrize". – Zhen Lin Aug 28 '12 at 9:49
@ZhenLin Please post this as an answer instead of a comment. – MετάEd Aug 29 '12 at 6:18
I would assume then that parametise is dead wrong ? – user68654 Mar 12 '14 at 19:58

Both parameterize and parametrize are acceptable according to the ODO.

Both parameterise and parametrise are acceptable in BE as per Collins.

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True that. I'd go with parameterize, ordinarily, because parameter is the root word, making it more clear. If I were feeling lazy, I'd go with parametrize. – Wolfpack'08 Sep 2 '12 at 8:14

This depends a bit on how one defines "correct". Various dictionaries might accept either or both uses. If you go by the scientific literature, both seem to be widely used.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a spelling that is suggestive of the correct meaning, then you should go with "parametrize" (or "parametrise").

You are not transforming the curve into a parameter, nor are you making it like a parameter. You are making the curve into a parametric curve (not a "parameteric" curve).

Similarly, one does not "meterize" a topological space to make it into a metric space, and likewise, Thurston didn't pose a "geometerization" conjecture that one can turn certain topological 3-manifolds into living, breathing geometers.

Also, for what little it's worth, as far as mathscinet is concerned, "parametriz*" is almost twice as frequent as "parameteriz*" (13961 hits vs 7720). Not to mention that the earliest use of "parametriz*" in that database is from 1933:

McShane, E. J. Parametrizations of saddle surfaces, with application to the problem of plateau. Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. 35 (1933), no. 3, 716–733. 53A10 (49Q05)

predating the first recorded use of "parameteriz*" by 3 years:

Morse, Marston; A special parameterization of curves. Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 42 (1936), no. 12, 915–922.

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For what it's worth, parameterize has 1,100,000 search results on Google, while parametrize has 500,000. I would take that as evidence that both are acceptable and in widespread usage.

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