Questions tagged [terminology]

How words are used in mathematics or mathematics education

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10 votes
3 answers
565 views

Common phrases having different meaning

When talking with students it frequently happens that they misunderstand what you meant. The common example is the amount of rigor that one would consider "a proof", but there are other ...
5 votes
4 answers
621 views

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. ...
2 votes
2 answers
126 views

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 ...
25 votes
11 answers
4k views

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" ...
5 votes
4 answers
334 views

Teaching "if...then" and "the following are equivalent"

What do you say to the following way of teaching "if...then" and "the following are equivalent"? Has somebody ever taught it like this? An implication $(A {\implies} B)$ can be ...
5 votes
1 answer
365 views

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 (...
5 votes
2 answers
926 views

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" ...
3 votes
5 answers
2k views

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" ...
0 votes
1 answer
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?...
14 votes
5 answers
2k views

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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
106 views

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,...
12 votes
2 answers
317 views

Is there a base-independent term for numbers written out with decimal/binary points?

How can I refer to a number written out in its decimal expansion (e.g., 1.25) or binary expansion (e.g., 1.01) to distinguish it from a number expressed as a fraction? I am teaching students to use ...
-2 votes
1 answer
128 views

When a geometrical figure a special case of another [closed]

Squares are special types of rectangles. Are circles special types of ellipses/ovals? Are cones special types of pyramids? I guess the answer is no because of the 2D basis: circles are not special ...
9 votes
3 answers
1k views

Standard word for a formula that is always true

If it is known from context that variables $x$ and $y$ represent integers, an open Boolean formula such as $x \ge y \Rightarrow x+1 > y$ evaluates to true regardless of the value assigned to ...
0 votes
2 answers
2k views

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) ...
-4 votes
1 answer
212 views

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 ...
7 votes
5 answers
945 views

In teaching mathematics, should one always follow some international standards such as ISO 80000-2?

ISO 80000-2:2009 is a standard describing mathematical signs and symbols developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In teaching mathematics, should one always follow this ...
5 votes
4 answers
1k views

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 ...
6 votes
2 answers
281 views

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 ...
-4 votes
1 answer
169 views

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 ...
23 votes
9 answers
4k views

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 ...
6 votes
3 answers
298 views

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 ...
14 votes
11 answers
6k views

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 ...
3 votes
3 answers
299 views

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 ...
-2 votes
3 answers
175 views

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 ...
3 votes
1 answer
74 views

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 ...
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 ...
14 votes
5 answers
1k views

Is "conjugate of a binomial" a standard terminology?

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 $...
7 votes
8 answers
3k views

What is an intercept?

I have always taught my students that the $y$-intercept of a line is the $y$-coordinate of the point of intersection of a line with the $y$-axis, that is, for the line given by the equation $y=mx+y_0$,...
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. ...
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 ...
5 votes
0 answers
182 views

Is there a name for 'simple' two-input-one-output word problems?

Andy has 4 apples, and then eats 2. How many does he have left? Beth drives for 3 hours at 80 km/h. How far did she go? Carl, Debbie and Earl earned $30 together shoveling driveways. How much does ...
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the difference between "numeracy" and "number sense"?

Is there a difference between numeracy and number sense, or are they synonymous? In my language they are often both translated to the same word (tallforståelse). I'm thinking that perhaps numeracy ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
13 votes
3 answers
1k views

Mathematical education slang

Amir Asghari recently asked a question about mathematical slang. He was "looking for "non-mathematical" terms or phrases that are used to refer to mathematical objects (of any kind) mainly for ...
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 $...
9 votes
1 answer
360 views

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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
223 views

What to call a symbol that denotes an "undisclosed" given number? [closed]

Students like to categorize notations to pin down their understanding of exactly what these notations stand for. Thus, given the expressions $f(x_{0})=f(x)|_{x\leftarrow x_{0}}$, $x=x_0+h$, or $lim_{x\...
14 votes
5 answers
768 views

What is a recommend way to describe a negative number with large absolute value?

Sometimes when we discuss limits verbally, we may say that a variable $x$ being "very small" (assuming that $x$ is a real number). But this could mean any one of the following: The number $x$ is a ...
11 votes
2 answers
218 views

Confusing verbal descriptions of function transformations

While teaching Function Transformations, I found the verbal descriptions of stretch and squeeze really confusing. So for $y = f(x)$, $y = 2f(x)$ is said to stretch $f(x)$ vertically by a factor of $...
31 votes
6 answers
3k views

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 ...
3 votes
3 answers
915 views

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....
19 votes
3 answers
2k views

Why are $m$ and $b$ used in the slope-intercept equation of a line?

The slope-intercept form of the equation of a line is often presented in textbooks (in the US) as $$y = mx + b\,,$$ where $m$ is the slope of the line and $b$ is the $y$-intercept. How did $m$ and $...
35 votes
1 answer
2k views

Metonymy in mathematics

Metonymy is a figure of speech where a word or another expression is used to mean something other than its literal meaning. This phenomenon is not restricted to the "usual human languages" (such as ...
16 votes
8 answers
4k views

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 ...
3 votes
3 answers
788 views

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 ...
5 votes
4 answers
698 views

Why isn't the term *inequation* widely used in English?

Just as we distinguish between an equation and an identity (or equality), why don't we distinguish between an inequation and an inequality? We solve an inequation and we prove an inequality. In French ...
3 votes
2 answers
2k views

Definition of root of equation/expression

Related: Where does the word “roots” come from when talking about zeros A student recently wrote: The positive root of 3 sin x = x is near 2. I am questioning the student's use of of the word ...