PronumeralsDate: 05/14/2002 at 22:52:34 From: Amar Subject: pronumeral Hi, What is a pronumeral? I cannot find the answer anywhere. Thanks. Date: 05/15/2002 at 09:33:09 From: Doctor Peterson Subject: Re: pronumeral Hi, Amar. I'd never heard this term used, though I could easily imagine what it would mean: the math equivalent of a pronoun, a word like "it" that takes the place of a specific noun (like "dog"). So a pronumeral would simply be a letter used in an equation to stand for a number, which we more often call a variable. (The difference appears to be that "variable" is sometimes taken to imply that the value can change, whereas a "pronumeral" may also be a "constant", an unspecified value that is not considered to be changing. For most purposes, this distinction is not important.) I did a Google search for the word, and most of the sites that use it are Australian, so it must be popular in the Australian educational community. It sounds like it may have been introduced elsewhere but did not catch on in most of the world: http://www.fractions-plus.com/Ord%20Alg/Variables.rtf Names of numbers are called numerals, while names for ordinary objects are called nouns. One mathematics project referred to variables as pronumerals in order to stress that the letters used in algebra are like pronouns. If you are grammatically inclined, think "pronumeral" when you see the word "variable". Just as pronoun may refer to a person in general rather than to some specific person, a variable may refer to a number in general rather than to some specific number. Here is one Australian site that defines the term: http://www.maths.adelaide.edu.au/MLC/MathsBridge/Topics/Algebra/ Pronumerals/use.htm I didn't find any sites that clearly distinguish "pronumeral" from "variable", just several that say you are supposed to know both terms. - Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
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