Questions tagged [etymology]

Questions about the origin of mathematical terms.

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7
votes
1answer
605 views

What is so 'coloured' on Chromatic Homotopy Theory

As the title suggest, I would like know the motivation/ historical background why chromatic homotopy theory is called 'chromatic'. Literally, what analogy to colors it might have. Accordings to ...
4
votes
1answer
161 views

What is the reason behind the name 3n-display?

In the paper "The display of a formal $p$-divisible group" Zink defines some objects and calls them $3n$-display. A $3n$-display over $R$ is a quadruple $P$, $Q$, $F$, $F^1$ such that $P$ is ...
11
votes
1answer
407 views

Why the name O for category O?

What is the motivation behind naming the category O appearing in the theory of Lie algebras? Does O stand for something? Here is a question Why the BGG category O? that further confuses me. It seems ...
33
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5answers
3k views

The origin(s) of the word “elliptic”

The word elliptic appears quite often in mathematics; I will list a few occurrences below. For some of these, it is clear to me how they are related; for instance, elliptic functions (named after ...
9
votes
1answer
827 views

Etymology of 'spectrum' in algebraic geometry and algebraic topology

In algebraic geometry, one has the notion of the spectrum of a commutative ring. These spectra serve as local charts for schemes. In algebraic topology, a spectrum is a sequence of pointed spaces $...
20
votes
1answer
2k views

Etymology of “exterior” in “exterior calculus”

What is the origin of the term "exterior" in "exterior calculus"? How does this term relate to "interior products" and "inner products", if it does at all?
4
votes
1answer
608 views

Why are they called ‘pernicious’ numbers?

A pernicious number is a positive integer such that the Hamming weight of its binary representation is prime. [Wikipedia] The meaning of ‘pernicious’: pernicious (adj.): highly injurious or ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Why are they called Specht Modules?

I know that the simple modules of $\mathbb{C}S_n$ are called Specht Modules, and they are named after the German Mathematician Wilhelm Specht because he studied them, but I think these modules were ...
4
votes
1answer
889 views

Origin of “Woodin cardinal”

Sorry if this is a completely stupid question (I'm a not a set-theorist, though I've been doing some reading in the subject), but I was wondering, specifically, about the exact provenance of the name. ...
8
votes
1answer
602 views

Origin of the term “weight” in representation theory

In representation theory, there are the related concepts of weights and roots. Since both are kinds of generalised eigenvalues, and eigenvalues are roots of e.g. the characteristic polynomial, the ...
16
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2answers
1k views

Etymology of cuspidal representations

In the literature on representation theory of $GL_2(\Bbb F_p)$ and $GL_2(\Bbb Q_p)$, the irreducible representations with trivial Jacquet module are often called "cuspidal" or "supercuspidal". Why are ...
10
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2answers
1k views

What is the origin of the term magma?

Wikipedia credits Bourbaki with coining it, but doesn't provide a source. Does anyone happen to know the motivation for using this term?
10
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1answer
1k views

What is the etymology of model?

What is the etymology of model? The answer is of course pre-WWW, but the better part of an hour in the library searching both classic model theory and modal logic textbooks turned up nothing. Every ...
9
votes
1answer
724 views

What is the etymology of zero-sharp?

I have wondered for a while what gave rise to the notation $0^\sharp$. According to wikipedia this is due to Solovay in 1967, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) there's no discussion of why that notation ...
11
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2answers
2k views

Why is Drinfeld's Zastava space called Zastava?

I'm trying to get an idea of Drinfeld's Zastava space. It seems to be an infinite-dimensional version of the flag variety, for affine Lie algebras. But, first of all, why is it called Zastava (...
20
votes
5answers
8k views

What does the word “symplectic” mean?

I know the definition of symplectic structure, symplectic group, and so on. But what does the word "symplectic" itself mean? Meta question: I have many other mathematical words whose etymologies are ...
3
votes
2answers
679 views

What's “projective” about “projective pro-finite groups”?

A profinite group is said to be projective if its cohomological dimension is $\leq 1$. Is this related to some other notion of "projective"? How so?