Calculus versus The Calculus
Name: Allan B.
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.
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:
Do not be put off by the fact that the home page is in Chinese. The document is in English.
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Update: June 2012