Drexel dragonThe Math ForumDonate to the Math Forum



Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by Drexel University or The Math Forum.


Math Forum » Discussions » Inactive » math-history-list

Topic: Quadratic Equations
Replies: 6   Last Post: Apr 10, 1996 11:09 AM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
John Conway

Posts: 2,238
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Quadratic Equations
Posted: Apr 9, 1996 7:38 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply



On Tue, 9 Apr 1996, Jeffrey Darrow wrote:

> Today I had a student in my college algebra class ask me why
> "Quadratic Equations" are so named. If we have a polynomial of
> degree 3 set equal to zero, we call it a cubic equation and that
> makes sense to these students. However, this particular student is
> curious because she sees "Q-U-A-D" in quadratic and thinks of four,
> yet the polynomial in such an equation is only of degree 2. I've
> never encountered this question before and I was at a loss for an
> explanation. Does anyone know the origin of the term "quadratic
> equation"? I would be very grateful to receive an answer.
>
>
> Thank you in advance.
>
> Jeff Darrow
> Idaho State University
>
>

The answer is just that "quadratic" means "square", and that
both these words are derived from the number (4) of sides to a
square, rather from its dimension (2).

By the way, my forthcoming "Book of Numbers", written jointly with
Richard Guy, contains a long discussion of many words that are
related in some way to numbers, and includes the history of "square",
"quadratic", and "biquadratic" (which was an old name for what is
now called "quartic").

John Conway







Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© Drexel University 1994-2014. All Rights Reserved.
The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel University School of Education.