
Re: Technical name for a symbol
Posted:
Oct 2, 1996 4:50 PM


The following from "The Words of Mathematics, An Etymological Dictionary of Mathematical Terms Used in English", Steven Schwartzman, MAA 1994.
vinculum (noun): from Latin vincire "to bind, to tie," of unknown proir origin. The diminutive vinculum referred to things that were used to bind people, such as ropes, bonds, or fetters. In mathematics textbooks that were used through the early years of the 20th century, writers often put a bar over terms that were intended to be grouped; nowadays we would use parentheses, brackets, or braces, or other grouping symbols. The bar that was written over two or more terms cane to be known as a vinculum bucause it bound the terms together. Historically speaking, when the vinculum was first used by Nicolas Chuquet in 1484, he put it under rather than over the terms being grouped. Some recent authors hav exteded the definition of vinculum to include the bar between the numerator and the denominator of a fraction, given that the fraction bar often acts as a grouping symbol.
YOUR MESSAGEYOUR MESSAGE Date: Wed, 02 Oct 1996 14:39:53 0400 From: Calvin Pascal Barton <barton@zeno.sfasu.edu> Subject: Technical name for a symbol To: mathhistorylist@maa.org Replyto: barton@math.sfasu.edu
Query to me from a Nacogdoches Junior High pupil: What is the name of the horizontal line used to separate the numerator from the denominator? Is it vinculum?
Pat Barton, SFASU

