Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The title says it all. I'm curious what the origin/etymology of the name 'sinc function' (pronounced 'sink') comes from. Presumably its a modification of 'sin'.

$\textrm{sinc}(x) \equiv \frac{ sin(x) }{x} $

share|improve this question
This is quite curious... I just came across the sinc function myself, and was wondering the same exact question! –  apnorton Feb 11 '13 at 2:34
This superannuated mathematician never heard of it --- looks like a neologism, maybe even a nonce word, or a hapax legomenon. –  Lubin Feb 11 '13 at 4:05

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Wikipedia says

The term "sinc" is a contraction of the function's full Latin name, the sinus cardinalis (cardinal sine) It was introduced by Phillip M. Woodward in his 1952 paper "Information theory and inverse probability in telecommunication" in which he said the function "occurs so often in Fourier analysis and its applications that it does seem to merit some notation of its own" and his 1953 book Probability and Information Theory, with Applications to Radar.

See also this answer of mine.

share|improve this answer
Interesting, and why 'cardinal' ? –  zhermes Feb 11 '13 at 4:36

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.