Questions tagged [terminology]

How words are used in mathematics or mathematics education

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6
votes
1answer
245 views

What is a less anglo-centric collection of persons than Andy, Beth, Carl, Debby and Earl?

These five imagined persons have accompanied me for some time. We've had a bunch of laughs and a few tears. I love them dearly. That said, I'd like to retire them in favor of a more culturally diverse ...
8
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4answers
1k views

Correct pronunciation of 'xth' (and workarounds for those who find it a tongue-twister)

This is to some extent a cross-posting from English Language & Usage. How do you pronounce “xth”? I am asking a slightly different question -- but only slightly. I was attempting to offer ways ...
4
votes
1answer
244 views

Definition of “curriculum”

In standard usage does the word "curriculum" mean That which ought to be taught and learned, as prescribed by authorities (i.e. teachers and textbook authors and the like); or That which actually is ...
19
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3answers
720 views

Difference in meaning of 'algebra'

The other day, in a conversation with colleagues, I realised that the word 'algebra' means different things to us. To me, it brings to mind the study of algebraic structures: vector spaces, groups, ...
11
votes
2answers
254 views

Does “factor” mean simply the multiplication (of any functions, numbers etc)

I am sorry I am not directed with the education of math. But granted, let me ask the above question. In my language (actually Japanese), the words corresponding with the factor and divisor, seem to ...
34
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1answer
1k 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
693 views

Where does the word “roots” come from when talking about zeros

We often use the word roots when referring to the solutions of an equation. For instance, when we have a polynomial $P(x)$, we call its zeros the roots of $P(x)$. For some polynomials we can relate ...
10
votes
2answers
203 views

Using terminology for the different concepts of rational number

In elementary maths education literature, they distinguish multiple concepts that rational numbers are used to represent: fractions, quotients, ratios, rates, and possibly more. These words seem to be ...
10
votes
2answers
292 views

Term and reference for the problem of students “overassociating” concepts with each other

I am writing a paper directed at a physics-education journal and I want to briefly refer to the phenomenon of students “overassociating” (in lack of a better term) mathematical concepts with each ...
17
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3answers
1k views

“Proof” meaning in maths and society

When we ask students to prove a particular result in a math class, students often reply with examples. For example, if I state: if a number is even its square will be even, and ask the students to ...
11
votes
3answers
423 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 things, like ...
12
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7answers
1k views

The word “and” rather than “or”

I asked my students the following question. Q: Express $\cos(\pi+x)$ in terms of $\sin$ and $\cos$. A: $-\cos(x)$. Students: Yeah, but where is the $\sin$ part? If I got this in an exam then I'd ...
22
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5answers
4k views

What is the proper verb for “doing” an integral?

It's time to write exams, and when writing in committee we often discover differences in usage between various instructors. Here's an example I noticed today. What is the proper verb to use in a ...
27
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11answers
3k views

Are the words “easy,” “basic,” “clearly,” “obviously,” etc., ever helpful?

This is a very basic fact from... It then clearly follows that... Obviously, we have... The proof is trivial... I could add plenty of other phrases to this list that mathematicians are prone to use ...
8
votes
1answer
444 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 ...

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