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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51
votes
8answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
8k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
15
votes
8answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
7k 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. ...
4
votes
3answers
341 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
4k 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?
106
votes
12answers
8k 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 ...
31
votes
6answers
20k 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 ...
29
votes
8answers
9k 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, ...
8
votes
5answers
1k 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 * ...
8
votes
3answers
20k views

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

Are there any differences between "oval" and "ellipse"?
6
votes
4answers
133 views

“That… be” construction

We will make the convention that exact categories be skeletally small. Is this construction (used in a mathematical context) correct? There is something that strikes me as odd in that "be". ...
4
votes
2answers
607 views

What's the grammatically correct usage of the word “modulo”?

I was wondering how should I rephrase the below sentence such that it is grammatically correct (accepted in standard American English): 10 modulo 3 equals 1. Initially, I'd thought that it is ...
3
votes
6answers
758 views

Alternative to “minuend” and “subtrahend”

In math, I just learned that when performing subtraction, the terms for each number are as follows: minuend − subtrahend = difference I have never heard of minuend and subtrahend before, and I'm ...
3
votes
5answers
11k views

Why is “a 100% increase” the same amount as “a two-fold increase”?

and is such interpretation the norm? When something went from 4 units to 8 units, most authoritative sources seem to agree with the use of "a two-fold increase", even though what was actually ...
3
votes
2answers
694 views

“Hence”, “therefore” and “so” in mathematical proofs

It seems to me that "so" is seldom used in math proofs. Instead, "hence" and "therefore" are used very often, even repeatedly appearing in several sentences in a row. So I wonder if my feeling is ...
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 ...