# Questions tagged [terminology]

How words are used in mathematics or mathematics education

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### what could be some replacement language for the term "spoon feeding"

In some cultures, there is an expression of "spoon feeding" type of instruction, where the teacher shows how to do steps to a problem, and then students are assigned minor variants thereof. ...
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### Is coefficient same as constant?

I was studying about polynomials when I stumbled upon this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBfdYuoc3x4&list=PLjS5lmipV2HJEaKfdeVSKdprfFxinzmNw&index=2 The video says that a monomial has ...
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### How can I validate the existence of percentages above 100?

I once encountered a math educator whose personal pet peeve was the "give 110%" meme. He drilled into his students that 100% was the literal maximum. Percent came from "per cent" ...
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### Definition for Mathematical Formula

Imagine that you were writing an elementary book, for example for high school learners, and at the beginning you had a glossary where you wanted to write the definitions for common mathematical words (...
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### Is "Annular Ring" redundant?

I've come across the term annular ring in parentheses following washer in my calculus textbook: "has the shape of a washer (an annular ring)". The definition of the word "annular" ...
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### What term describes the relationship between tenth, hundredth, thousandth and the number ten?

What term describes the relationship between tenth, hundredth, thousandth, et cetera (1/10, 1/100, 1/1000, ...) and the number ten? (Despite what some may say, I don't accept that "decimal" ... 213 views

### Why do so many children's book confuse discs with circles? [duplicate]

The difference between a disc (disk) and a circle is crystal clear to me: However, in many children's books, a disc is usually called a circle: Why do many children's book confuse discs with circles?...
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### Use of language: "perfect square". is this useful or a hindrance? [closed]

I have recently been noticing the tendency to use the term "perfect square" when "square number" is really what is meant. Usually I have seen it at elementary level: introductory ...
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### Are ‘constant difference’ and ‘common difference’ synonymous?

I’ve seen at least two phrases to describe a fixed difference between two numbers, i.e., “constant difference” and “common difference.” For example, if Sibling A is 10 years older than Sibling B today,...
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### Is there a difference between 'subtract' and 'subtract by'?

A basic terminology question for a foreign speaker. Please correct me if wrong. (Let's ignore the commutative property of + and * here) ...
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### Can you talk about (the rest of the) field axioms when the operations are not closed? [closed]

Note: Updated based on this. In my course, my instructor posed the following exercise: Let $S$ be the subset of $\mathbb R^n$, $S=\{(a_1,a_2,a_3...a_n) | a_2 = \pm a_1, a_3=...=a_n=0 \}$. Define ...
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### Is there an equivalent for "tiervenner" in English or other languages?

In Norway a widely used concept is that of "tiervenner", "ten friends" (my translation to Finnish is "kymppikaverit"). This simply means numbers (implicitly positive ...
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### Composite fraction?

What do you call a fraction that has one fraction in the numerator and also one in the denominator? I mean (a/b)/(c/d). The word by word translation from my native language would be: composite ...
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### Is there an **official** name for the following "digit reduction" operation? [closed]

In one of my programs I have a function I call reduce(n) which associates to n the recursive sum of ...
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### What is the English word for the French "repère"?

I'm preparing a holiday class in computer graphics. The class will be held in English. I'm a French speaker and I'm fighting with some words which have lots of meanings to find the right one in the ...
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### A linear equation -- my approach

Here is an example of a lesson I did on linear equations where my objective was to show that they are equations of first degree. The reason I do it this way is because I tend to find that students ...
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### Why do we introduce the notion that triangles are "congruent" instead of just saying that they are "the same" or "equal"?

The assumed age of the students is 10-15 years old. What is the danger in saying that two triangles are "the same" or "equal" instead of saying that they are congruent? It seems to ...
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### What can (and should) an educator do about ambiguous terms like "triangle", "square", etc?

The imagined students are in elementary school, say around 9-13 years old. I want to use rather precise terminology when talking to my students. However, it seems like we typically use the same ...
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### simple statistics (binomial) terminology

Say I have the problem: I roll a die three times and I am interested in the probability of ending up with two 1's. My impression is that a single roll is called a trial. What is the full 3-roll action ...
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In several online high school teaching resources (I do not want to single out any) I see that $a-b$ is referred to as the conjugate of $a+b$ with no restriction on $a$ and $b$. I can understand that $... • 1,039 5 votes 2 answers 230 views ### Term for candidates for inflection points The critical points of a function$f(x)$are candidates for local extrema, i.e., if a function changes from increasing to decreasing, or vice versa, it must happen at a critical point. Is there an ... • 2,083 9 votes 3 answers 2k views ### Definition of Trapezoid From one textbook we use in our High School - Transcription: A trapezoid is a quadrilateral with exactly one pair of parallel sides. The parallel sides are called bases of the trapezoid. And from ... 10 votes 2 answers 391 views ### Weekly quizzes as an alternative for midterms? What is this called? I have seen (by some of my former instructors) the following strategy applied as an alternative to traditional "midterms and final" assessment in a math course: Students take a quiz weekly. ... • 3,684 9 votes 5 answers 2k views ### Is there a name for paths that follow gridlines? I'm writing up an activity where students are looking at pathlengths that follow along gridlines. Is there a word or phrase that is commonly used to describe those paths, but doesn't include ... • 483 14 votes 7 answers 11k views ### Why don’t American school textbooks recognize negative numbers as whole numbers? Looking up for definition for whole numbers on Google yields a result which mentions: The whole numbers are also called the positive integers (or the nonnegative integers, if zero is included). I ... • 151 17 votes 4 answers 3k views ### Does this property of subtraction and division have a name? Addition and multiplication are commutative. Denoting$\circ$as either such operation, we have $$x \circ y = z \Leftrightarrow y \circ x = z.$$ Subtraction and division have a similar property, where ... 2 votes 1 answer 376 views ### In single variable calculus, do you distinguish between critical and singular points? In some texts, a critical point is when the derivative exists and is zero, and a singular point is when the derivative does not exist. So I suppose, at$x=0$,$|x|$would have a singular point while$... 1 vote
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### Allowing nonstandard mathematical language and/or notation

How important is enforcing standard mathematical language and/or notation? Today, I was questioned by a writing instructor as to how vital it is to correct students when they explain something using ...
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### Terminology for parts of limit notation

When we talk about: $$\lim_{x\to{c}}f(x)=L$$ Is there a formal name for the number "$c$"? I know of course that it means "$L$ is the limit of $f(x)$ as $x$ approaches $c$". It just would be nice to be ...
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### The term "unique" for functions and operations

This is long so... TLDR: Proposing the math community steer away from the misleading term unique, with respect to functions and algebraic operations. Instead, use unambiguous. Why not? Analysis below....
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### Should high school teachers say “real numbers” before teaching complex numbers?

Before complex numbers are introduced in senior high school courses, should we emphasise that solutions (e.g. to quadratic equations) are real solutions? If we do, then when non-real numbers finally ...
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### What is the name of the form of the line equation $y = m(x-x0)+y0$

I have been looking everywhere for the name of this form of equation of a line $y=m(x-x_0)+y_0$. It's not quite point-slope. It's the same form you would write in the linear approximation of a ...
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### The word "numeral", is it being taught and does the word exist for it in your language?

I am a mathematics educator from Lithuania and I have recently realized that there is no separate word in our language for the word "numeral". To be more precise there is no term to describe the ...
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### An alternative to "two column" geometry proofs

I'm a high school teacher in New York State (US), starting in on my first year of teaching Geometry. One of the things that really intrigues me is that the Regents exam (the state-mandated final exam)...
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### Is there a more telling name for "Calculus 2"?

I see a lot of places where "Calculus 1" is referred to as "Introduction to Calculus", or "Single-variable Calculus." "Calculus 3" is referred to as "Multiple-variable calculus." Is there an ...
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### Interpretation of how to define "bigger" and "smaller" real numbers

This is a variant on the question small real numbers. I have a disagreement with someone about the meaning of "bigger" real numbers. Say we have the real number $-1.$ Is $0$ "bigger" or "smaller" ...
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### What are "PreK‐12th‐grade students"?

I am reading the paper Effects of game‐based learning on students' mathematics achievement: A meta‐analysis and can't find a definition for the term "PreK‐12th‐grade students". While I know that "K-...
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### Are there textbooks that cover most etymological aspects of mathematics?

In most of the science textbooks I read, I observed that most of them contain the terms, definitions and etymology too. But nowadays, the mathematics textbooks are becoming more formal and contain ...
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### How to verbalize the correct statement of mixed units?

I want help phrasing the instructions in a math question. The issue is the correct way to express mixed units. For example, if an answer is “25 inches,” I don’t want to accept “25 inches” or “1 foot ...
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