## Monday, October 24, 2011

### Pre-Fixed Math

As I begin this post on using elementary math as a grown-up, I have to warn you that despite the way the title sounds, this is is NOT about cheating on tests, pre-school math, nor is it about French meals with a fixed price.

This post is about pre-fixes, those short  letter combinations that appear in front of other (math) words.

 Prefix Meaning Example bi- two bicycle centi- one hundred centimeter, century dec- ten decade deci- one-tenth decimeter equi- equal ("in the middle") equidistant, equiangular femto- 10⁻¹⁵ or 0.000000000000001 femtocell phone transmitter (Danish femten 15) giga- 10⁹ or 1,000,000,000 gigabytes hemi- half a sphere hemisphere, Chrysler HEMI hex- six hexagon, hex wrench kilo- 10³ or 1,000 kilometer mega- 10⁶ or 1,000,000 ("big") megabytes, "it's a mega-project"

That's enough - I think you get the idea. Of course there are many more obscure prefixes, but these are commonly used in the math world, and it's essential to know most of them. Especially if you are taking at test and the question reads:

Select One: Is a quadrilateral considered to be (1) a regular polygon or (2) a pentathlon?

You might have read about OVERACHIEVING, PRECOCIOUS PRODIGIES, those brilliant folk whose math ability TRANSCENDS that of UNDERACHIEVERS. Notice all the prefixes?

Unlike the previous list of prefixes, the following group deals with position and order rather than numerical or calculation terms. Nevertheless, these are commonly used mathematics prefixes too.

 Prefix Meaning Example circum- around circumference, circumnavigate (the middle) inter- between intersection, international over- above, upper, excessive overconfident pre- ahead, before in line, first in order prelude, precocious pro- favoring, motion forward, before its time propulsion, prodigy trans- across, beyond transatlantic, translate, transcend under- below, behind underachievers, underarm