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Glossary

Arithmetic series

A series whose consecutive terms have a common difference

Asymptote

A straight line that a curve approaches more and more closely but never
reaches

Chord

A straight line connecting two points on a curve

Coefficient

A numerical factor multiplying a term in an algebraic equation

Common difference

In an arithmetic series, the difference between any term and the


preceding term

Constant

A quantity whose value is fixed

Constant term

The term in an expression which has no variable component,


e.g. 3 in x3 2x + 3

Coordinate

A set of numbers that determine the location of a point in a given


reference system

Critical values

The values of a variable in an inequality at which the inequality


becomes true/false

Cubic equation

A polynomial in which the highest power of the unknown is the third


power, e.g. x3 + 2x 7

Definite integral

An integral with finite upper and lower limits

Denominator

The number below the line in a fraction, showing the number of equal
parts in the whole

Derivative

The rate of change of a function with respect to the independent


variable

Differentiation

The process of obtaining the derivative of a function

Discriminant (of a
quadratic equation)

The value of b2 4ac for the equation ax2 + bx + c = 0

Function

A mathematical relationship between two values called the input and


the output, such that for each input there is precisely one output

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General term

The nth term of a sequence

Gradient

The rate of change of a function

Indefinite integral

An integral without limits

Index (pl. Indices)

Superscript numbers used to indicate powers; the number of times a


number is multiplied by itself

Inequality

Integer

A relationship between two quantities indicating that one is strictly less


than (<), strictly greater than (>), less than or equal to () or greater
than or equal to () the other
A positive or negative whole number or zero

Integration

The process of finding integrals

Intercept

The point at which a line intersects a coordinate axis

Irrational number

A number that cannot be expressed as an exact fraction

LHS

Left-hand side, for example, of an equation

Normal at a point

A line which is perpendicular to a curve at the given point

Numerator

The number above the line in a fraction, showing the number of parts
being referred to

Perfect square

An algebraic expression that can be factored as the square of some other


expression, e.g. a2 + 2ab + b2 = (a + b)2 or a2 2ab + b2 = (a b)2

Perpendicular

When two lines or line segments intersect and form right angles

Point of contact

The point at which a tangent touches a curve

Polynomial

An algebraic expression consisting of one or more summed terms

Power

A product formed by multiplying a number by itself a certain number of


times, e.g. 34 is 3 to the power of 4

Prime number

A positive integer which is only divisible by itself and 1

Quadratic equation

An equation in which the highest power of an unknown quantity is a


square (second power), e.g. x2 + 5

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Rational number

A number which can be expressed as an exact fraction with the


denominator and numerator being integers

Real numbers

The set of all rational and irrational numbers

Reciprocal

The reciprocal of a number is 1 divided by that number

RHS

Right-hand side, for example, of an equation

Root (of an equation)

A solution of an equation

Root (of a number)

Scale factor

A number which scales, or multiplies, some quantity

Sequence

An ordered list of numbers or terms

Series

The sum of a sequence of terms

Sigma ()

Symbol indicating summation

Simultaneous equations

A set of equations containing multiple variables

Solution

A value that gives a true statement when substituted into an equation

Surd

An irrational root, e.g.

Tangent (at a point)

A straight line that touches a curve at a point, but does not cut it

Term (expression)

A value (variable or constant) or expression separated from another


term by an operating sign (+, , , ) in an overall expression

Unknown

A variable quantity whose actual value isn't known

Variable

A quantity that can assume any of a set of values

a is the nth root of a; if the nth root of a is b then bn = a

2 or

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