Q&A #6073

Mathematical terminology

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From: Kimberley (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Apr 04, 2001 at 17:14:06
Subject: Re: Mathematical terminology

Mrs. Flood,

Many of the "subdivisions" were named based on ancient words:

Algebra comes from the Arabic word al-jabr, which appeared in the title of a 
book written by the mathematician al-Khwarizmi.  It was a book of algebraic 
equations and it also introduced the Hindu-Arabic numbers to Western Europe.

Arithmetic is from a similar Greek word which means the art of counting.

Calculus is taken from the Latin word, calculus, which means small stone.  In 
early times, stones were placed in grooves drawn in the earth and used much as 
beads are in an abacus.

Geometry derives from the Greek words "geo" for earth and "metr" for measure. 
, or more specifically from the Greek work geometrein meaning to measure the 

Fractal geometry was coined by Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1970s to describe the 
work he was doing with shapes/designs which had fractional dimensions.

Trigonometry also has Greek roots.  A "trigon" is a three angled figure and 
"metr" again means measure.  

Mathematics itself comes from the Greek roots "manthanein" to learn and 
"mathema" science.

As you may have noticed, many of the names relate to what that area of 
mathematics studies.

I found the above meanings in a book called Classic Math History Topics for 
the Classroom by Art Johnson.  The publisher is Dale Seymour.

You can find many of the roots in a standard dictionary, also,

 -Kimberley, for the T2T service

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