Drexel dragonThe Math ForumDonate to the Math Forum

Ask Dr. Math - Questions and Answers from our Archives
_____________________________________________
Associated Topics || Dr. Math Home || Search Dr. Math
_____________________________________________

Why Use Q and Z?


Date: 09/12/2001 at 17:07:21
From: Jim Truelove
Subject: Q and Z

Dr. Math -

Why is the letter Q used for rational numbers and Z for integers?

Thanks,
Jim


Date: 09/12/2001 at 17:41:39
From: Doctor Paul
Subject: Re: Q and Z

Hi Jim -

Q is for quotient - which is how rational numbers are identified.

Z is for Zahlen - the German word for integers.

- Doctor Paul, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   


Date: 09/24/2001 at 01:32:48
From: Tevis Howard
Subject: The Integer Symbol... Z

Dr. Math, 

What is the history/etymology of the math symbol for integers, Z?

Thanks for your help.


Date: 09/24/2001 at 09:16:41
From: Doctor Luis
Subject: Re: The Integer Symbol... Z

The German word for "number" is "Zahlen." Several German 
mathematicians made contributions to Number Theory (or 
Zahlentheorie in German), which is, roughly speaking, the 
branch of mathematics concerning theorems about the integers.  
They used the letter Z to denote the set of integral "numbers" in 
their textbooks, so I guess the usage just stuck over time. 
Leonhard Euler and Karl Gauss were two such mathematicians 
who made several important contributions to the field of Number 
Theory. Others come to mind, but I'm sure you can find an 
interesting book on the history of mathematics where you can 
read about  them :-)

Anyway, the origin of the symbol Z for the set of integers is that 
simple.

- Doctor Luis, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
Associated Topics:
High School Definitions
High School Number Theory
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Number Sense/About Numbers

Search the Dr. Math Library:


Find items containing (put spaces between keywords):
 
Click only once for faster results:

[ Choose "whole words" when searching for a word like age.]

all keywords, in any order at least one, that exact phrase
parts of words whole words

Submit your own question to Dr. Math

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

_____________________________________
Math Forum Home || Math Library || Quick Reference || Math Forum Search
_____________________________________

Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994-2013 The Math Forum
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/