Why do integers have the symbol of Z? Natural numbers have the symbol of N, whole numbers have the symbol of W. Our professor has asked us to find out why the letter Z is represented for integers. I would appreciate any information that you could give to me.

Thank you.

Hi Stephanie,

Th place where I look for the answers to questions of this sort is the Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols. In the section on number theory I found

Q for the set of rational numbers and Z for the set of integers are apparently due to N. Bourbaki. (N. Bourbaki was a group of mostly French mathematicians which began meeting in the 1930s, aiming to write a thorough unified account of all mathematics.) The letters stand for the German Quotient and Zahlen. These notations occur in Bourbaki's Algébre, Chapter 1. Zahlen is a German word for number.

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