m for slope
Date: Around 1995
In the formula for the slope of a line, namely y = mx + b, m stands for
slope. Why the letter m? Why not any other letter?
Nice question. My 1949 James "Mathematics Dictionary" writes y=mx+b; my
1940 high school algebra text does not use m at all. Maybe you will have to
help me on this one. What is the oldest book in your school library that
uses m for slope.
There are idiot mathematicians who try to standardize everything. They
may have standardized the textbooks in the mid 1940's or thereabouts. It
might be fun to pursue your question.
Just an idea: what is the French word for slope in the mathematical sense?
How about the Latin or Greek? Both the Latin and French for measure begin
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Update: June 2012