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A Glossary of Mathematical Terms - S


In statistics it refers to a representative portion of a population, from which information is gathered.

Scale factor

The magnitude of a size change

Scalene triangle

A triangle with no equilateral sides.

Scatter plot

A grapfhical method used in statistics to show the relationships between two variables: the values of the varibales are represented in a coordinate plane.

Scientific notation

Writing numbers as the product of a number between 1 and 10 and the appropriate power of ten.


See Circle.


See Circle.


A seven-sided polygon (also heptagon).

Signed number

A number with a plus or minus sign.

Similar figures

Two figures that have a similarity transformation that maps one into another.

Simplest form

See Fraction.

Skew lines

Non-coplanar lines that do not intersect.


Also translation: a geometric transformation, where figures are exactly duplicated by moving each point the same distance and in the same direction.


The measure of the tilt of a line: rise over run (i.e., how much the lines moves up for every movement to the right).

Small circle

See Sphere.


The grouping or arranging of items or ideas according to specified characteristics.


The set of points in space whose distance from a give point (the center) is less than or equal to a number (the radius).
Small circle: the circle formed by the intersection of a sphere and a plane that does  not contain the center.
Great circle: the circle formed by the intersection of a sphere and a plane that contains the center.


A computer generated arrangement of data in rows and columns.

Square brackets [  ]

See Brackets.

Square root

A number that, when squared, gives the original number.

Stem-and-Leaf plot

A display of information that lists each peace of data in a set in acsending or descending order. The values are usually arranged in two columns with the stem representing the number of tens and the leaves representing the ones digit.


See Angle.

Straightedge, unmarked

One of the fundamental tools of Euclidean geometry, used to draw lines.


A set that is part of a larger set.


subtract 5 from12: 12-5;
the difference between 12 and 5 is 7: 12-5 = 7;
12 decreased by 5: 12-5;
12 minus 5: 12-5;
5 less than 12: 12-5;
the first term in subtraction is the minuend;
the second term in subtraction is the subtrahend;
the outcome is the difference.


See Addition.


See Angle.

first published on september 01 2003 - last updated on september 01 2003