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} $

  • $\begingroup$ This is quite curious... I just came across the sinc function myself, and was wondering the same exact question! $\endgroup$
    – apnorton
    Feb 11, 2013 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ This superannuated mathematician never heard of it --- looks like a neologism, maybe even a nonce word, or a hapax legomenon. $\endgroup$
    – Lubin
    Feb 11, 2013 at 4:05

1 Answer 1


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.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, and why 'cardinal' ? $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2013 at 4:36

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