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Mathematical language


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When we try to use ordinary language to explore mathematics, the words involved may not have a precise meaning, or may have more than one meaning. Many words have meanings that evolve as people adapt their understanding of them to accord with new experiences and new ideas. At any given time, one person's interpretation of language may differ from another person's interpretation, and this can lead to misunderstandings and confusion.

In mathematics we try to avoid these difficulties by expressing our thoughts in terms of well-defined mathematical objects. These objects can be anything from numbers and geometrical shapes to more complicated objects, usually constructed from numbers, points and functions. We discuss these objects using precise language which should be interpreted in the same way by everyone. In this unit we introduce the basic mathematical language needed to express a range of mathematical concepts.

Please note that this unit is presented through a series of downloadable PDF files.

This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course Pure mathematics (M208) [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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