3

Mathematics has many words for the people who specialise in particular subdisciplines:

  • geometers, who study geometry
  • algebraists, who study algebra
  • combinatorialists, who study combinatorics
  • probabilists, who study probability
  • statisticians, who study statistics
  • analysts, who study analysis
  • ???, who study partial differential equations

Partial differential equations (PDEs) is a large field in mathematics, with many people working in it. It would be nice to have a word by which to refer to those people, along with all the other words for people in other parts of maths.

What is the noun for a person who studies PDEs?

Example sentence:

The conference will be of interest to all manner of analysts: measure theorists, numerical analysts, functional analysts, and [???].

  • Perhaps it would be nice if mathematicians could come up with a decent word for "PDE" first! You could, I don't know, call the field partial differentiation, and call the people partial differentiators? – Cerberus Aug 25 '16 at 23:52
  • 2
    Aren't they "diffyquers"? After all, "PDE" is just another term for "diffyque". – Hot Licks Aug 25 '16 at 23:54
  • 1
    It's a subarea of analysis so they would be 'analysts'. That word has lots of other uses so probably not the best. Also, don't you think mathematicians would know better? You may want to ask there. – Mitch Aug 26 '16 at 0:06
  • 1
    @Mitch I don't have an account on Maths SE, and somehow I doubt this sort of word-request question would be on-topic there. – Rand al'Thor Aug 26 '16 at 0:08
  • 7
    @Edwin So questions here have to be "helpful to the vast majority of Anglophones" in order to be on-topic? That's an awful lot of questions which are going to have to be closed then. In fact, I think I can almost guarantee that for nearly every question on this site, the vast majority of Anglophones couldn't give a flying f*** about it and only a tiny number of language enthusiasts could give a damn. – Rand al'Thor Aug 26 '16 at 1:25
3

Not all areas of mathematics produce specialist terms for their researchers, and even if they do, I do not think many of the researchers will spontaneously use these terms to describe themselves. I think people will find it more natural to say "I'm in computational algebra" (or, more formally, "I work/do research in computational algebra") than "I'm a computational algebraist", for example. This in particular if that particular area name comes with a modifier (such as functional: a functional analyst can mean so many things, and often has nothing to do with research in math). Also, the former description draws attention to the area rather than the person, which people may find preferable.

So normally I think people working in PDEs would shortly say "I'm in PDEs".

Should the necessity to apply short labels to specialists in various areas of mathematics arise, a neutral descrption would be a PDE researcher (or more informally, PDE guy; no idea what girls resort to in the circumstances!).

  • I agree; the guys in PDEs say that they're in PDEs. However, if forced to give a more general description, some would say they're analysts (that is, in analysis---I don't mean the psychotherapy, although some would definitely benefit), others that they are applied mathematicians. – David Handelman Aug 26 '16 at 14:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.