This tag is for questions about the usage and meaning of mathematical terminology and the names for mathematical entities in English.

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13
votes
4answers
7k views

How to read exponential expressions, e.g., “2^16”?

How do you say the mathematical function in English: x^y (or xy) For example, how do you say 2^16 (or 216) I know ^ means 'power' or 'exponentiate', but that is the name of the ...
78
votes
26answers
6k views

How to read “E = (mc)²” so as not to mistake for “E = mc²”

According to one of the questions already asked on EL&U, “E = mc²” is read as E equals M C squared. How do we read “E = (mc)²” so that it is not mistaken for “E = mc²”?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

“Nominator” or “Numerator”? [closed]

Consider the fraction 3/7. In Mathematics, "7" in the expression is called "denominator" of the fraction. But in the case of "3", some people call it "nominator", and some call it "numerator". Which ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Should I use hyphens with prefixes like “sub” and “semi”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is it necessary to use a hyphen in writing a compound word? Some English texts, use the prefix sub put before a given proper word with "-" between them, for ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

When do we use “suppose” and when “let”?

As a matter of fact, these two words are used a lot in mathematical contexts. Often, we use them interchangeably; but I do realize that that might not be correct. What should I do about this matter? ...
13
votes
1answer
5k views

Trapezium/trapezoid — why are the US/UK definitions swapped around?

These are the US definitions... Trapezoid — a 4-sided flat shape with straight sides that has a pair of opposite sides parallel. Trapezium — a 4-sided flat shape with straight sides and NO parallel ...
6
votes
2answers
453 views

Etymology of “magma” in abstract algebra

Magma is one of those beautiful words of Greek origin (μάγμα) that arouses the child and the wild in me, making me think of volcanoes. I just found out, though, that it is also used in mathematics to ...
0
votes
2answers
290 views

Explanation of sentence [closed]

I don't understand this sentence.... I know the meaning of all words except distinct... I looked in dictionary.. but I don't understand..:/ Output the number of distinct values when considered MOD ...
6
votes
1answer
178 views

“Commutivity” or “commutativity”

I see commutivity used in contexts where the meaning appears to be the same as commutativity. Here are an example from physics and another example. Is commutivity incorrect? Does it differ from ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

Is “iff” considered a real word or just an abbreviation?

I wonder if "iff" is considered a real word (as LEO says) or is it just an abbreviation (as in Wiktionary)?
3
votes
4answers
775 views

Is there a prefix for “infinite”?

I was looking for a prefix I could prepend to a word to mean an infinite amount of the thing the word describes. I eventually found someone with the same question, and since there were no answers, I ...
1
vote
5answers
354 views

What is the term or phrase to describe some process is sequential independent? [closed]

By "sequential independent", I mean the process remains the same no matter how you change the order of its subroutines. Better to be some term frequently used in math or engineering.
4
votes
5answers
4k views

Divide two into four and Divide two by four

Why does "divide two into four" equal two, and "divide two by four" equal one half? Correct if I am wrong, but this what I have learned recently.
-1
votes
5answers
7k views

Is it proper to state percentages greater than 100%? [closed]

Technically, "percent" should mean "for every hundred". So, I would think that it's perfectly fine to say "150%". However, in common usage, people rarely say percentages greater than a hundred. Is ...
30
votes
8answers
10k views

X, Y, Z — horizontal, vertical and …?

When working in a 2D coordinate system you could say that X is the horizontal axis and Y is the vertical axis. Extending this to 3D, is there a similar word for the Z axis? (I'm aware of Width, ...
4
votes
4answers
728 views

What’s the correct usage of “modulo”?

How would we rephrase the following sentence to be grammatical? : 10 modulo 3 equals 1. By "grammatical", I probably mean something along the lines of standard American English. Initially, I'd ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “an A/B metaphor” mean?

I wonder what "an A/B metaphor" means, for example, in the following quote from Wikipedia about formal language: "In some applications, especially in logic, the alphabet is also known as the ...
3
votes
1answer
446 views

Reference for oral expression of mathematics [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to speak mathematics I am a narrator and have been asked to read several technical papers which have mathematics expressions in them. Is there a reference to help me ...
5
votes
5answers
502 views

“Let's/We let A be a variable”

Suppose I am giving a math talk and I am going to write on the board Let A be a variable. What do I say while I write? Can I say Let's let A be a variable or should I write We let A be a variable and ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it correct to say “times” in this context?

Consider the following: Math teacher: "How can we turn 42 into 420 through multiplication?" Student: "You times it by ten!" Is this usage of times correct? I hear it so often that I suspect ...
1
vote
2answers
207 views

Is “underlying” the right word?

I am describing a mathematical model, where the probability density function of a variable is made up of two contributions, two distributions. Mathematically we would say that f(x) = g1(x) + g2(x). ...
3
votes
4answers
293 views

posteriori and posterior

What are the differences in meaning and usage between posteriori and posterior? Particularly in probability, statistics and logic, when should I use which? For example, why are "max a posteriori" ...
22
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the name of this letter? [closed]

I came upon this letter when reading a book, I couldn't find its name on the internet, you can imagine how hard it is to search about it. What is the name of the letter that follows "sample space"? ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Word for a piece of a pie chart? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to name a part of a piechart What is the correct name for a shape which is like a triangle but with one edge circular, like a slice of cake?
4
votes
3answers
377 views

Why is the common meaning of logical terms ('and', 'or') incongruous from that in math?

If someone wrote that they want "nuts and bolts", they would get a bunch of hardware they could attach things with. If this was software or math, they would only receive nothing, because things are ...
3
votes
4answers
488 views

“Iterate” and “iteration” as nouns

What are the differences between iterate and iteration as nouns? I don't quite understand the definition of iterate as noun: A quantity arrived at by iteration For example, in computer ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What reasoning is behind the names of the trigonometric functions “sine”, “secant” and “tangent”?

The meanings of these words are very similar: the sine of an angle in a right triangle is the ratio of the opposite side to the hypotenuse; the secant is the ratio of the hypotenuse to the adjacent ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Another word for “fraction” that fits in conversation like “percent”? [closed]

In programming I use values between 0 and 1 to represent percentages but the word percent means "one part in every hundred" (0-100). I've also heard people use permil for 'one part in every thousand" ...
107
votes
12answers
9k views

What do you call a disk with a hole in the middle?

Compact Discs, washers and Aerobie frisbees are all disks with a hole in the middle. Is there a word (either mathematical or not) to describe this shape? I mean the specific case of a round hole in a ...
3
votes
4answers
312 views

Word to describe a mathematical variable that repeats, like an angle or time

In mathematics a variable can be said to be constrained if it must lie within certain bounds, for example: 0 < x < 1 (the variable x is constrained: it lies between zero and one) However ...
3
votes
4answers
664 views

Origin of square and cube as verbs

Whence did the verbs 'square' and 'cube', in the sense (if there exist others) of 'to the second power' and 'to the third power' respectively, originate? There is some degree of similarity between the ...
2
votes
2answers
575 views

“Numerical Mathematics”

My friend is studying a subject called 'Numerical Mathematics and Computer Algorithms'. Surely mathematics is all about 'Numbers', so is ''Numerical Mathematics' a redundant statement? Please excuse ...
21
votes
7answers
2k views

(k+1)th or (k+1)st?

Mathematicians commonly have to form ordinals from variables: you might look at the kth element of a sequence, for example. When the variable is a single letter, the ordinal is always formed with the ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

How can I describe a “one or more” condition (one that has many options; a “non-boolean”)?

Generally speaking a boolean condition is understood to be an "either/or" relationship; for example, something is hot or cold. What's do you call a "one or more" condition, e.g. something that can ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

How to pronounce “nₒ” properly

People here (Hong Kong) like to pronounce n0 ("n subscript zero") as "N-nor"; "N-zero" seems to be acceptable. I am wondering what's the most popular pronunciation in English. I am actually a little ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the term for an integer one larger than a given integer?

I'm looking for a concise term to say a number must be exactly one higher than a previous number. None of "subsequent", "incremental", or "next" seem to convey the restriction that it must be ...
2
votes
3answers
167 views

Can 'area' be called 'plot'?

Can area from mathematics be called plot?
2
votes
3answers
533 views

Percentage expression

Is it correct to say "15 percent less than 25"? To me, it doesn't make 100% sense.
9
votes
4answers
906 views

Pronunciation of the big-O notation

How should I pronounce the following things? (These are complexities of algorithms.) O(n) O(n*log(n)) O(n^2)
4
votes
4answers
285 views

What can I call the two possible directions on a line (as a category)?

In English, a vector is said to have two properties: a length and a direction. The possible directions correspond to half-lines out of the origin (so that, eg, up and down are different directions). ...
18
votes
4answers
2k views

How is a' in mathematics pronounced?

It often happens that two or more similar values are distinguished with the ' symbol, e.g. a, a', a'' and similar. How is this pronounced?
7
votes
4answers
5k views

“Lower number” vs. “smaller number”

Is −9 a smaller number than −8? And is −9 a lower number than −8? What is the difference between lower and smaller here?
32
votes
6answers
22k views

Use of “I”, “we” and the passive voice in a scientific thesis [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Style Question: Use of “we” vs. “I” vs. passive voice in a dissertation When the first person voice is used in scientific writing it is mostly ...
2
votes
4answers
316 views

Word for the relation between two different generalisations

I'm looking for a word for the relation between two concepts that are both different generalisations of the same concept. As an example, take the scalar product and cross product between vectors, from ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Where does the word “totient” come from?

In math we learn about the "totient function". It rhymes with "quotient" when math teachers pronounce it. But I cannot find the definition or etymology of this word in any dictionary, nor on any ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the derivation of the statistical term “Histogram”?

There are conflicting definitions of origin. Unclear as to whether it is derived directly from the Greek, coined by Pearson, or used and named prior to Pearson. Refer to "The History of Histograms - ...
13
votes
5answers
9k views

Does “either A or B ” preclude “both A and B”?

In mathematics, "A or B" includes "A and B". Does "either" mean "A or B but not (A and B)" or does it include the possibility of "A and B"? The context might be mathematics, formal logic or ordinary ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a shorter term for “divided by” in American English?

Given the following expression: 5 (+-×÷%) 4 You would say "5 plus 4," "5 minus 4," "5 times 4," "5 divided by 4," and "5 mod(ulo) 4" respectively. As far as I know, "divided by" does not have ...
1
vote
5answers
562 views

y with respect to t

In math, you say: velocity is the rate of change of position with respect to time. I'm looking for a better, mathematically correct way to say that, without using the phrase with respect to and ...
6
votes
2answers
503 views

Etymology of “regression”

What is the etymology of "regression" as in finding the coefficients of polynomials?