Why x and y?Date: Wed, 30 Nov 1994 20:39:50 -500 (EST) From: Harvie Porter Subject: Why x and y? My Algebra One class wants to know why certain letters get chosen to represent specific quantities in algebra. In particular, why are x and y chosen to represent the abscissa and ordinate of an ordered pair, and why is the letter m used to represent slope? Please answer this question so I can share with the students the benefit of reaching out to others for assistance. Many thanks, Harvie Date: Wed, 7 Dec 1994 00:09:10 -0100 From: Dr. Ethan Subject: Re: Why x and y? Hi Harvie, Neat question. The use of x and y as common unknowns and eventually as the coordinate axis was established by Rene Descartes. It is fitting that the father of the Cartesian plane would get to name the axis. They first appeared in his work La Géometrie. This was published in 1637 (I think). Hope that helps. Ethan Doctor on call |
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