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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36
votes
8answers
16k 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
975 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
547 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
554 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
3k 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
229 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
416 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
4k 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
459 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
679 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
2k 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" ...
118
votes
12answers
12k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
374 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
860 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
689 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 ...
25
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
2k 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
173 views

Can 'area' be called 'plot'?

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

Percentage expression

Is it correct to say "15 percent less than 25"? To me, it doesn't make 100% sense.
9
votes
4answers
2k 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
324 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). ...
21
votes
4answers
3k 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?
8
votes
5answers
8k 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?
35
votes
6answers
30k 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
338 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 ...
16
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
2k 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 - ...
15
votes
5answers
12k 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
3k 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
589 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
784 views

Etymology of “regression”

What is the etymology of "regression" as in finding the coefficients of polynomials?
16
votes
8answers
5k views

Why do we say “lowest common denominator” when we mean “greatest common divisor”?

For example, we could say HTML is the lowest common denominator on the web", because one can be sure all web browsers are able to render HTML (but not Flash or Java). If I want my web page to show ...
17
votes
5answers
13k views

Difference between “computation” and “calculation”

If the words computation and calculation are not perfect synonyms what is the difference between them? Which one describes more accurately what is done by a person computing or calculating something ...
58
votes
8answers
7k views

Is -1 singular or plural?

Do we say "-1 thing" or "-1 things"? Edit: I am interested in both of these cases: "two things minus one thing(s)" and the quantity "minus/negative one thing(s)." Bounty: While there are some good ...
9
votes
2answers
10k views

Should I use the singular or plural verb in mathematical formulae (“Two and two make/makes four”)?

I remember somebody correcting me once when I said, "Two and two makes four", since the conjunction and would imply the use of a plural verb. They would prefer I said: Two and two make four. ...
3
votes
4answers
329 views

Use of the word “convergent”

This question is for people who know some mathematics. Is it correct to say The sequence is convergent to 0. Normally we say: The sequence converges to 0.
8
votes
4answers
33k views

Are there any differences between “oval” and “ellipse”?

Are there any differences between "oval" and "ellipse"?
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a word for a class of circular shapes?

I'm not sure if this belongs here, but I'm wondering if there is a word for a class of circular shapes? Thinking about this hierarchically: * Shape * Polygon * Square * Rectangle * ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

How can I form a word like “quadruple” for any number I want?

I'm not sure what these are called, but how can I form a word like "quadruple" for any number I want? Like 5× as much is quintuple, what is 31× as much or 147× as much? I want to know how they are ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Transform or transformation?

Is there a difference between the words transform (noun) and transformation? Let me describe my problem. I have a mathematical model which I can transform into a better model with help of a data ...