History of Radicals
Date: 2/6/96 at 16:50:14 From: Anonymous Subject: Why is it called a square root? Why do we call it square root when the symbol is called radical? I know that we have square roots and cube roots etc. Hmm, I guess I do understand the square part. Now I realize that I don't understand the root part. Is it just its looks? Can you help? Thanks a googolplex. Evan.
Date: 5/5/96 at 2:12:3 From: Doctor Jodi Subject: Re: Why is it called a square root? Hi Evan! Gee, I think that a googolplex is an awful lot! Anyway, the use of "root" comes from the mathematician Viete, who wrote about powers, calling them roots, squares, and cubes, based on the analogous geometrical objects. (Did you know that for a long, long time, mathematicians debated the meaning of powers greater than 3 because of the lack of such analogues?) In general speech, root can also mean base, as in the bottom part of something, so I think that's why the term came into use. Let us know if we can help again. -Doctor Jodi, The Math Forum
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