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Browse High School Definitions

Stars indicate particularly interesting answers or good places to begin browsing.



Rate of Change of Distance [05/02/2002]
Speed is defined as the rate of change of distance moved with time. What is meant by 'rate of change of distance'?

Recognizing a Function From a Graph [09/03/2003]
How do you know whether a graph represents a function?

Rectangular Hyperbola [06/11/2002]
The graph of a rectangular hyperbola looks nothing like a rectangle. Where does the name come from?

Reflex Angle [11/30/1998]
What is a reflex angle?

Regression Method [11/18/1997]
What is the regression method?

Regular vs. Equilateral Polygons [07/24/2003]
What is the difference between a regular polygon and an equilateral polygon?

Relative and Absolute Extrema of a Function [01/07/2004]
What is the difference between the absolute extrema and the relative extrema in calculus?

Relatively Prime [10/07/1999]
What does the term relatively prime mean, and how can you determine if two numbers are relative primes?

Rhombus and Square Comparison [01/14/2004]
Comparison of the definitions of rhombus and square as a way to answer the questions, 'Is a square a rhombus?' and 'Is a rhombus a square?'.

Rhombus vs. Rhomboid [08/27/2002]
What is the difference between a rhombus and a rhomboid?

Roughing It More Rigorously [12/02/2010]
A physics student wants to make sense of the various symbols used to represent "approximately equal to" -- as well as the phrase's mathematical meaning. Doctor Vogler produces two precise definitions while acknowledging that context, and personal preference, rule the day.

Scientific Notation and Engineering Notation [10/22/2003]
What is the difference between Scientific Notation and Engineering Notation?

The Second Octant [04/03/2002]
Where is the second octant? No one seems to know how to count the next octants after the first.

Set, Subset, Element [3/10/1997]
Please define: set, subset, member, element, intersection, union.

Significant Non-Zero Digits [11/27/2001]
How many significant digits are there in a number with no non-zero digits? Example: 00.000 Are there any?

The Simplex Method [11/2/1996]
How does the simplex method work and what would I use it for?

Simson Line [04/19/1999]
What is the Simson line?

Sine, Co-sine, and Tangent: SOHCAHTOA [03/28/1999]
I am having trouble figuring out what to use when solving a triangle problem.

Snub Cube [08/08/1998]
What is a snub cube?

Speed of Light [06/08/2001]
What's m s^-1? Why isn't it just m/s (meters per second) instead? What's the little "-1" at the end?

Sphere Surface Area Precision [04/22/2003]
How can the formula 4*pi*r^2 for the surface area of a sphere be precise?

Squaring the Circle [3/16/1996]
Where did the phrase "squaring the circle" come from? We found it in literature and wonder about its origins and what it means.

Stretching Definitions, and Compressing [08/04/2014]
Given counterintuitive definitions in his textbook, a teen seeks clarity around how to describe the effect of the positive factor c in y = f(cx). Surveying other usages of "compress" and "stretch" around the web, Doctor Peterson turns up inconsistencies.

Sum of First n Natural Numbers [12/03/2005]
Factorial refers to the product of the first n natural numbers. Is there a name and symbol for the SUM of the first n natural numbers?

Surds [05/17/2000]
Where does the term "surd" for square roots come from?

Surface Area and Volume: Cubes and Prisms [05/27/1998]
What is the definition of surface area and volume? What are the differences and similarities between surface area and volume?

The Symbol for Natural Log [06/28/2000]
Why is "ln" and not "nl" the abbreviation for natural log?

Symmetry [04/29/2001]
What is symmetry?

Terminology: Quadratic Equation vs. Quadratic Function [04/07/2004]
As I read various algebra books for high school kids, I find what appears to be an inconsistent use of the words 'quadratic equation', and I wanted to be sure I use it correctly myself. Is it correct to call y = ax^2 + bx + c a 'quadratic equation', or a 'quadratic function'?

Tesseracts and Hypercubes [05/22/1997]
Can you give me any good sources of information that a high school geometry student would understand?

Theta [04/14/1997]
What is Theta? Does it have a constant value?

Ticking Off Congruence [02/06/2013]
A teacher's textbook, and his colleagues, all assume that if two geometric objects have different tick marks, then the two angles or segments indicated must be incongruent. Doctor Peterson unpacks the ambiguity, then warns against the larger error of reading too much in sketches.

Topology [05/10/1997]
What is topology? What is knot theory?

Topology [03/19/2001]
What is topology?

Traceable Mathematical Curves [10/27/1997]
Is there any way to tell just by looking if a curve is traceable or not? Is there some property of a curve that will tell you this? Do curves have formulas?

Transfinite Arithmetic [10/28/1997]
What is transfinite arithmetic? I pretty much know what it means, but I am having trouble applying it to aleph-null.

Transfinite Numbers [11/07/1997]
I know that Georg Cantor discovered transfinite numbers, but what are they?

Translation [9/11/1996]
What does translation mean?

Triangle Inequality Theorem [03/09/2001]
The lengths of the sides of a non-isosceles triangle, in size order, are 5, x, and 15. What are all possible integral values of x?

Trilogy, Tetralogy... [05/28/2003]
Why isn't there a numbering system for groups like trilogies?

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