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Why is K Used as an Abbreviation for Area?

Date: 11/29/2004 at 22:56:38
From: Christina
Subject: Abbreviations used for area

Many text books use the letter K to represent area, for example the 
area of a triangle.  Do you know where the letter K came from in terms 
of why it is used to represent area instead of the letter A, for 
instance?



Date: 11/30/2004 at 13:12:17
From: Doctor Peterson
Subject: Re: Abbreviations used for area

Hi, Christina.

This question has been asked many times, and I've never found a 
definitive answer (or even a good guess).  My understanding is that A 
is _not_ used in many lists of formulas because points or angles are 
commonly labeled A, B, and C.  Since K is not the first letter in the 
word for "area" in any language I know, the most likely explanation 
is that it is more or less random--the letter someone felt was least 
likely to be confused with any other commonly used symbol.  That would 
mean that the symbol (variable name) is deliberately NOT an 
abbreviation at all, of anything. Once someone chose this as the 
solution to the problem of choosing a symbol for area, others 
followed, rather than trying to come up with a better one.

If you have any further questions, feel free to write back.


- Doctor Peterson, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ 
Associated Topics:
High School Definitions
High School Euclidean/Plane Geometry
Middle School Definitions
Middle School Two-Dimensional Geometry

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