Numbers are names for particular values (points on the number line) used to communicate the relative mathematical values of things. And several subject matters deal with numbers as being variable quantities for various reasons. So Language has developed a word for a number that is of sufficient importance that it be used to represent an invariable or "constant" value as part of a mathematical computation process, and these invariable values are called "constants" in English. Note that the value of Pi is considered to be a constant value, even if it's exact value never has been actually determined.WFPM (talk) 04:34, 12 November 2008 (UTC) Also note that these "constant" are ratios relative to the size of the comparative size values of other things, and that therefore the actual numerical value of the constant is not as important as the knowledge that there is a constant numerical relationship between the things being compared. — This unsigned comment was added by WFPM (talk • changes).
Mathematical constant vs. Constant (mathematics)[change source]
Numbers such as π (Pi) and e (Euler's number) are usually called mathematical constants. Since an article on this topic exists, I added the distinquish template at the top of this article. Some points we might want to include in this article are:
- A constant in mathematics is a letter used in the generic form of a function, relation or equation ... Before actually calculating this letter must be replaced with an actual number. (Some people use the term general in place of generic (e.g. the general solution to a differential equation), but this is often confusing to non-math people.) For example, we write the generic form of a linear function as y=mx+b, but before working with the function (calculating or graphing), we must replace the constants m and b with actual values, e.g. y=3x-1.
- Programs that include CAS (Computer Algebra Systems) can work with the generic forms. That is, they can calculate (ax+b)'=a. This is often called symbolic mathematics and most graphing calculators cannot do this. They can only work with functions where the constants have been replaced with real numbers.
- BTW: the derivative of a constant function is zero, although as mathematicians we are often lazy (I do this all the time) and say the derivative of a constant is zero. P.S. I know this discussion is not written in simple English :). Lfahlberg (talk) 07:33, 6 February 2014 (UTC)