Why is it called a quadratic if it only contains $x^2$, not $x^4$? Should it not be bidratic or didratic etc?

  • $\begingroup$ Quartic $\endgroup$ – Eff Apr 30 '17 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ $(x+a)^2$ is the area of a square of side $x+a$ (in some languages square is literally "quadrate"). $\endgroup$ – mathreadler Apr 30 '17 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe a long shot, but. A square has.. four corners and four sides. $\endgroup$ – mathreadler Apr 30 '17 at 22:34

See http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Quadratic.html

The Latin prefix quadri- is used to indicate the number $4$, for example, quadrilateral, quadrant, etc. However, it also very commonly used to denote objects involving the number $2$. This is the case because quadratum is the Latin word for square, and since the area of a square of side length $x$ is given by $x^2$, a polynomial equation having exponent two is known as a quadratic ("square-like") equation. By extension, a quadratic surface is a second-order algebraic surface.

By analogy, since the volume of a cube of side length $x$ is $x^3$, a polynomial equation having exponent three is called a cubic equation. An equation of degree four is then unimaginatively called a quartic equation, or sometimes (more commonly in older sources) a biquadratic equation.


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