Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Calculus versus The Calculus
Name: Allan B.
Status: student	
Age:  N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 


Question:
Why is calculus sometimes referred to as "The Calculus"? I assume that there is some historical reason for this but I can not seem to find the reference.



Replies:
Bad News! Good News! I could not find a definitive distinction between "calculus" and "the calculus". However, the etymology of the word "calculus" suggests a reason. "Calculus" is the Latin word for the noun "pebble" and the verb "calculare" means "to count", so one might suppose that in the traditions of the 1600's where Latin was taught far more generally than today that "THE calculus" meant "THE way to compute". The good news is in researching your inquiry I ran across a web site devoted to the etymology of mathematical terms that you may find very interesting:

http://mail.mcjh.kl.edu.tw/~chenkwn/mathword/mathword.html

Do not be put off by the fact that the home page is in Chinese. The document is in English.

Vince Calder



Click here to return to the Mathematics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory