11 oct. 2017

Science: when serious names are not enough in Mathematics

Hearing about mathematics could be a sign of grief and sorrow. Generally around the world, mathematics has been a tortuous topic because since the early grades. In Spanish, there is a song that says: mathematics is the science which breaks your patience…
So how could be funny talk about names in mathematics?
Well, let me tell you about that. There are some mathematical functions with plots that resemble to funny or weird things and had been named in honor of those things.
For example, have you heard about the popcorn function?


Formally this function is named as the Thomae’s function but is known as the raindrop function or Stars over Babylon function.
The Thomae’s function is part of the Dirichlet functions that generate segments of different sizes in a similar distribution as the Thomae’s function. How you would name the Dirichlet functions?


A function is a mathematical correspondence that associates two sets of variables. Its plot gives the information of the function’s behavior. For example, you can see the temperature variation along the days with the days being the independent variable and the temperature being the dependent variable. But to describe the reality through a function is not an easy task otherwise you know how to dress every day following the information of a graphic shown in the TV news!

But coming back to mathematics, there are other functions seen in the final courses of high school and in mathematics related college courses as the cardioid. This curve can be drawn marking a point in a circle that rolls over another quiet circle and is very similar to a heart.


The cardioid is drawn and studied in polar coordinates because the independent variable is the rolling angle.
There is also a curve drawn in polar coordinates generated with the cosine function and resembles to a flower. Its name is: compass rose.


And what about the Witch of Agnesi? It is a curve with the shape of a witch’s hat and named Agnesi in honor to the Italian mathematician who discovered it. It can be constructed using a circle and its tangent lines.


Among recent functions, there is also the Mexican hat that is part of the wavelets used for many applications as the analysis and recognizing of digital fingerprints.


And what about the fraction sandwich? This is a name which remind us how to simplify the division of fractions.


And talking about food, what about the sandwich theorem another food that is useful to know which functions limit other third function and is used to limit a behavior.


Something else to include in this collection of math funny names?

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