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Browse High School Definitions

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Origin of the Term Logarithm [10/27/1999]
Where does the term logarithm come from?

Origin of the Terms Sine, Cosine, Tangent, etc. [10/27/1999]
Can you tell me the origin of the terms hypotenuse, sine, cosine, and tangent? Can you tell me how the trigonometric formulas for sine, cosine, and tangent came about?

Origin of the Term Vertical Angles [04/04/2005]
Why do we call them "vertical angles" when many of them are "horizontal" (extending left and right)? Where did that name come from?

Origin of the Word Root [02/18/2002]
If we set an expression equal to zero, we call the solution the "root" of the equation. Why?

Parabola [06/06/2001]
What is the meaning of the word parabola?

Parallel Lines, Concentric Circles [04/24/2003]
If parallel means that two lines never intersect, would the lines that form a circle drawn inside another circle be considered parallel?

Pareto and Bar Charts [3/12/1997]
What are three distinguishing differences between Pareto Charts and Bar Charts?

Parsec (pc) [10/26/2001]
One of the unit conversions my Casio fx-991MS calculator does is pc to km and km to pc. What does "pc" mean in this context?

Parts of a Cone [04/18/2001]
Does a solid cone have any edges?

Pattern or Sequence? [10/02/2003]
What is the difference between a pattern and a sequence?

Percentiles, from Top to Bottom [05/14/2014]
Ninety-eighth percentile, 99th percentile, ... 100th percentile? An adult wonders how to number extreme percentiles. Doctor Peterson surveys the landscape of usage, turning up inconsistencies with both the language and rounding protocols.

Perimeter of an Oval [04/08/1999]
What is the perimeter of an oval called?

Permutations, Combinations, Arrangements, and Strings [10/22/2007]
When a coin is tossed four times, is an outcome of HTTH considered a permutation, a combination, or something else entirely?

pH Definition [10/20/2001]
What is the 'p' in pH?

Phi [05/18/1997]
What is phi?

Pick's Theorem, Lattice Points, and Area [08/27/1998]
What is a lattice point, and how does it relate to the area of a triangle, rectangle, and a circle?

Point Symmetry [08/19/2001]
What exactly is point symmetry? How can one tell if point symmetry is present?

Polyhedra: Classification, Theorem [02/12/1998]
I would like to know how polyhedrons are classified, which figures can be used for the faces, and the theorem relating the faces, edges, and vertices.

Polyhedra: Solids or Surfaces? [06/06/2003]
Is a polyhedron always a solid figure?

Polynomial Basics and Terms [05/20/1998]
I'm having a lot of trouble understanding polynomials.

Polynomial Degrees and Definition of a Field [03/02/1998]
The degree of polynomials added together, and definition of a field.

Polyominoes [09/08/1997]
I am using polyominos, but I do not know how to tell my dad what they are. How can I tell him so he will know?

Power or Exponent? [10/14/2003]
I always thought that 'power' was just a synonym for 'exponent'. Is that incorrect?

Principal Square Root Positive [10/24/2002]
Why are we always taught that the principal square root of a number is positive?

Product Notation [10/26/2000]
Can the pi symbol also be used to mean multiplying all the terms in a series together?

Profit Margin and Percentage Markup [02/16/2007]
I own a small business and am a little confused about the difference between a percentage markup and a profit margin. Are they the same thing? If not, how are they different?

Pronumerals [05/14/2002]
What is a 'pronumeral'?

Proofs with Isosceles Triangles [10/28/1998]
What are altitudes, angle bisectors, and medians? How do you prove that in an isoseles triangle, the altitude is a median and an angle bisector?

Properties? Axioms? What to Call Characteristics of Field, and When [07/14/2014]
An adult finds inconsistent labels for the characteristics of fields and rings. Doctor Peterson explains how different levels of abstraction warrant different vocabulary.

Proportionality Symbol [05/20/2003]
Do you know the name of the little symbol used in the topic of rates and variation that means 'in proportion to'?

Pyramids and Triangular Prisms [05/09/2000]
What's the difference between a pyramid and a triangular prism?

Quadrant [03/25/2001]
What is a quadrant?

Quadratic Equation [7/10/1996]
Why is a quadratic equation "quadratic"?

Quadratic Equations [12/3/1995]
My students want to know why an equation of the second degree is referred to as a quadratic equation. What does the prefix quad have to do with second degree equations?

Quadrilateral Classification: Definition of a Trapezoid [01/15/1997]
What is the correct definition of a trapezoid, and why?

Quadrinomials [02/26/2001]
What is a quadrinomial, and how is it used?

Quartile Conflict [03/01/2015]
A teacher struggles to reconcile conflicting ways to calculate quartiles. Referencing several textbooks along the way, he and Doctor Peterson discuss the merits, and drawbacks, of several methods — and further distinguish between those procedures and actual definitions.

Raised Cosines [01/28/2001]
What are raised cosines, and how do they work?

Range - Difference or Difference + 1? [08/05/2003]
Is range the same as 'difference' or not?

Range, Mean, Median, and Mode [11/17/1998]
Why do we study range, mean, median, and mode? How will these concepts help me in real life?

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