Mathematics Glossary

Any student who ever sat or slept through a mathematics course knows that certain words and phrases occur very frequently. This glossary might eliminate some confusion.

trivial The student might be able to do it in three hours or so.
simple An "A" student can do it in a week or so.
easy This topic would make a good master's thesis.
clear The instructor can do it (he thinks).
obvious The instructor is sure it is in his notes somewhere.
certainly The instructor saw one of his instructors do it, but has completely forgotten how it was done.
Left as an exercise for the student The instructor lost his notes.
is well known The instructor heard that someone once did it.
can be shown The instructor thinks it might be true, but has no idea how to prove it.
the diligent student can show It is an unsolved problem - probably harder than Fermat's Last Theorem.


1997 William Geoffrey Shotts. Last update: Sunday, October 5, 1997