# Questions tagged [etymology]

Questions about the origin of mathematical terms.

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**31**

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### The origin(s) of the word “elliptic” [migrated]

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**

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**1**answer

743 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 $...

**19**

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**1**answer

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### 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**

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**1**answer

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### Why are they called 'pernicious' numbers?

The definition of a pernicious number:
In number theory, a pernicious number is a positive integer where the Hamming weight (or digit sum) of its binary representation is prime.
The meaning of '...

**12**

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**1**answer

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### 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**

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**1**answer

818 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**

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**1**answer

580 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 ...

**15**

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**2**answers

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### 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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**2**answers

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### 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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**1**answer

964 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**

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**1**answer

692 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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**2**answers

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### 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**

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**5**answers

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### 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**

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**2**answers

651 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?