# A word meaning “to set equal to one” in a mathematical application?

How do I describe the process of setting something equal to 1 in a mathematical application?

I often deal with numbers and figures that are set equal to zero when certain conditions are met, and the word for this (that we use, at least) is "zeroise". Is there such a word for the same process, except where we are setting numbers equal to one?

I would like to think that it is "unionise" but the idea of unionising labourers seems to be too strong here.

Any other suggestions?

• ‘Oneise’? Or ‘unise’? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 26 '13 at 20:37
• How about unitize? Unionize is not a good choice because it brings to mind mathematical unions (i.e. from Set Theory), which could possibly lead to confusion. – Matt Nov 26 '13 at 20:43
• That said, in mathematics "setting something" other than a variable is quite rare, since mathematics is stateless. Instead, it would be more common to just say "Let x be 1". – Matt Nov 26 '13 at 20:46
• Thanks for your comments, Matt. I did consider "unitize" but felt that it could be construed to mean "integerize"! But I guess my context should make the meaning clear :-) – Aaa Nov 26 '13 at 20:50
• Yes, you can't expect one English word to do the work of an entire equation. Unitize (or unitise) would easily mean "set to the value of 1, adjusting other values accordingly". The mean distance between the Earth and the Sun has been unitized as 1 "AU", or "Astronomical Unit". – John Lawler Nov 26 '13 at 20:58

In physics or math, when you rescale a quantity to 1 you are normalizing it.

This might come up if you are finding a unit vector, for instance.

The term is also used when talking about natural units -- the idea of adjusting your system of units such that certain physical constants (such as the speed of light) are equal to one. From wikipedia:

A purely natural system of units is defined in such a way that some set of selected universal physical constants are each normalized to unity; that is, their numerical values in terms of these units are exactly 1.

You can normalize things to other than 1, but 1 is kind of the "default" I'd assume on seeing the word without context.

You probably wouldn't use this if you're just initializing a value to 1 in a computer program. If 1 is the natural default value for e.g. a counter, you would probably just use the word initializing, though.

The question is ambiguous enough that I can't tell which (if either) word is more appropriate.

• Setting a variable to 1 is not necessarily normalizing it at all! It can be but it is not implied. – terdon Nov 27 '13 at 0:18
• @terdon that's exactly what I said in the answer. "You probably wouldn't use this if you're just initializing a value to 1 in a computer program." – starwed Nov 27 '13 at 0:43
• The OP is talking about "numbers and figures that are set equal to one when certain conditions are met". I don't see how normalization is relevant. Rescaling is not the same as assigning values. I am just pointing out that while normalization may well imply setting things to 1, the reverse is not true, setting things to 1 does not imply normalization. – terdon Nov 27 '13 at 0:51

Adding to starwed's answer, "normalize" is the verb for turning a nonzero positive quantity to 1. "Normalize" comes from the idea of a "norm", which in mathematics is the absolute value function (or a generalized version of such). The word "normalization" is usually considered to mean "dividing something by its norm", which sets the norm of the object you're dealing with to 1. So in this context, normalization may not be the word to use.

Also, you say that you use the word "zeroise" to mean setting something equal to zero - would the verb "zero" not suffice? If you do, then I would use "one" as a verb to refer to the action of setting something equal to 1 no matter what it was before.