Quandaries and Queries

Name: Amanda

Who is asking: Student
Level: Secondary

Why is the letter J used to represent intergers as a symbol?

Hi Amanda,

I checked on The Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols under "Symbols used in number theory" and I found a comment that J is used for the integers in Birkhoff and MacLane, Survey of Modern Algebra, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1953. That's the earliest reference I could find. But that wasn't your question, you wanted to know why J is used. I don't know. The letter I is not a good symbol to use for the integers (in particular it is an English word) and I always assumed that J was chosen simply because it is the next letter.


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