History of Abscissa
Date: 03/26/2001 at 20:39:24 From: Eric Fogelfis Subject: Coordinate Hi! I would like to know the word abscissa comes from. Thank you very much.
Date: 03/27/2001 at 14:37:04 From: Doctor Schwa Subject: Re: Coordinate Hi Eric, I found a related question and answer in the Dr. Math archives by searching for "abscissa": Terms of the Cartesian Coordinates http://mathforum.org/dr.math/problems/carpenter12.1.98.html You can do that search yourself with our searcher at: http://mathforum.org/mathgrepform.html The link above (to "carpenter") has a nice paragraph in it about the origins of "abscissa." I also looked in the Oxford English Dictionary, and found that "absciss" means "a line or distance cut off" (or in general, a piece that's cut off). The idea, then, was that to find the coordinates of a point, you would start at the point (x,y) and draw a perpendicular to one of the axes. The length of that perpendicular was called the "ordinate," and the length of the piece of axis cut off was called the "absciss" or "abscissa" or "abscisse." In general, though, I don't see those words being used much these days, except in first-year high school algebra books. People just say "x-coordinate" or "first coordinate"... I hope that helps. - Doctor Schwa, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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