# Use of the word "solve"?

This is not a mathematical question, but just a matter of terminology.

I don't understand why so many people (especially on MSE) want to solve integrals. It makes sense for me (linguistically speaking) to solve an equation or to solve a problem, but definitely not to solve an integral: instead, I would just say compute.

So, I would like to know if "to solve an integral" is correct English. Needless to say, English is not my native language...

• In math a lot of things can be re-written in equation form. I would agree that you aren't strictly solving anything when you integrate $\int f(x) \,dx$ but that is equivalent to "solving" the equation $F(x) = \int f(x)\, dx$ for $F(x)$.
Jun 11 '14 at 15:57
• I'm not a native english speaker, but I don't think 'solve' is an appropriate term for what you describe. I think the confusion comes from misconception of the terms (solve, compute and variants) themselves and possibly from the fact (?) that in some languages the natural translation of 'solve' leads to the concept of 'compute' in english. There's also the possibility that you could look at it as "Solve the problem" and the problem actually is an integral. Jun 11 '14 at 15:58
• Another French asking the same question meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/9060/… Jun 11 '14 at 15:59
• @brad You remind me of the basket-weaver who told me all mathematical problems reduce to basket weaving. After all, if the solution to your problem is $X$, then a basket in the shape of $X$ is the solution to your problem. Jun 11 '14 at 16:07
• @G.T.R Thanks for the link. I should have checked before. Jun 11 '14 at 16:22