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When solving Mathematical problems, I usually come across with titles like:

Evaluate the expression below.
Evaluate this: ∜[(log2(48 / 3) + 1)2 - 9]
Evaluate the following integral.

When I look up at dictionary, it says:

to evaluate:
1. to determine or set the value or amount of; appraise: to evaluate property.
2. to judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of; assess: to evaluate the results of an experiment.

I looks like to be a sophisticated word from commercial terminology. Why don't they use a simpler an more common verb instead of it? Like these ones:

Evaluate Find the value of the expression below.
Evaluate Simplify this: ∜[(log2(48 / 3) + 1)2 - 9]
Evaluate Solve the following integral.

Is there a reason for preferring this verb over its alternatives?

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closed as not constructive by Cameron, RegDwigнt Nov 18 '12 at 0:34

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The answer is 2. –  American Luke Nov 17 '12 at 21:09
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The answer is 1. Evaluate: determine the value of. –  Andrew Leach Nov 17 '12 at 21:12
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The answer is 2. log(48/3)/log2=4 | (4+1)^2=25 | (25-9)^(1/4)=2 –  American Luke Nov 17 '12 at 21:29
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Generally, in math, evaluate means to provide a numerical solution (in real or complex numbers, depending) to an expression, if possible; if not possible, to reduce it to a standard description in lowest terms, or at least an algorithm for producing such in minimal time. –  John Lawler Nov 17 '12 at 21:35
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"Evaluate" is preferred over its simpler alternatives for the exact same reason you preferred the fancy words "sophisticated", "commercial", "terminology", "prefer", and "alternative" over their simpler alternatives. –  RegDwigнt Nov 18 '12 at 0:38

1 Answer 1

According to etymonline, the term evaluate was originally used only in mathematics, and its usage then spread to its current use in commercial technology. It would have originally just meant "find the value of".

As for the alternatives you suggest, most of them don't work.

  • solve the integral ...

You can't solve an integral. You can only solve an equation or a problem.

  • simplify the integral ...

You can simplify an expression, but mathematicians don't talk about "simplifying an integral". To me, finding the value of an integral is too complicated an operation to use "simplify" rather than "evaluate".

  • find the value of the integral ...

This works fine, but it's four words instead of one.

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