Advanced mathematics in plain English

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# The Plain English Math Glossary

symbols |
A | B |
C |
D |
E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O |
P |
Q |
R | S | T |
U |
V |
W |
X | Y | Z

## symbols

- α
- The lowercase Greek letter alpha. (Uppercase α is written as A)
- β
- The lowercase Greek letter beta.
- δ
- The lowercase Greek letter delta. In calculus, this represents an infinitesimally small change in a variable, for example δx
- ∫
- The symbol for integration in calculus.
- ||
- Shorthand for "parallel"
- π
- The lowercase Greek letter
*pi*. The constant π is equal to approximately 3.14, which is the angle 180° in radians.

## C

- Circumference
- The distance around the perimeter of a circle - the distance you'd measure if you could straighten out the edge of a circle and hold it up against a ruler.

## D

- Derivative
- A function that represents the rate of change of another function – how much a function's value changes as its parameters change.
- Differentiation
- The process of finding the derivative of a function.

## P

- Parallel
- Describes a line, vector, etc. pointing in exactly the same direction as another line, vector, etc. (Shorthand: || )
- Perpendicular
- Describes a line, vector, etc. pointing exactly 90° to another, such that the two lines would form a cross at right angles if drawn on top of each other.

## R

- radian
- The angle you'd cover by moving around the edge of any circle a distance equal to its radius.
- radius
- The distance from the center of a circle to its edge.

## U

- Unity
- A word meaning "equal to 1," or simply the number 1. (
*"Unity" = 1 unit*)

## W

- Wavelength
- The length of a single cycle of a wave, such as a sine wave. This is the distance afterwhich a wave returns to its starting point and repeats itself.
- Wavenumber
- In the case of a sine wave; the number of wave cycles that fit into a period of 2π. For example, a wave with a wavelength of π has a wavenumber of 2, because precisely 2 wave cycles (of length π) are needed to span a distance of 2π. Wavenumber is equal to 2π/λ, where λ is the wavelength.

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