|Re: Calculus vs calculation|
Message #9 Posted by bill platt on 6 Mar 2006, 5:11 p.m.,
in response to message #8 by Walter B
for an american child, his or her first exposure to that word, "Calculus" is likely to be some time in middle school when he learns that after he learns Algebra and geometry, he will then have to take a course in analytical geometry (sometimes called trigonometry), and then "calculus." Most students regard this transition with trepidation. Introductions to calculus have been made to him in physics or analytical geometry: the concepts of asymtote and infinity was strange enough, but now he will have to understand the concepts of "infinetesimal" and "limit". And so "calculus" has a certain connotation in american language of transcendance, (and not merely of the transcendentals either ;-)and higher learning. It certainly has analysis as a part of it, but it is by no means a synonym. Sometimes the word "calculus" is used in literary contexts to get at the idea of a reasoned and difficult or rather non-apparetn thought process.
"Calculation" on the other hand is a word that one is exposed to vbery early, as in "something that a calculator does." It has a connotation of "mechanical" or uniform, straightforward, work with numbers, yet even "calculation" has an air of the intellectual or brainy about it, in some circumstances.
Here are some sentences that this native speadker of american english has produced on the fly:
[pre]"When the onboard computer failed, astronaut J.S. Bach calculated his trajectory by hand."
Note that it would have worked essentially the same had I said:
[pre]"When the onboard computer failed, astronaut J.S. Bach computed his trajectory by hand."
Edited: 6 Mar 2006, 5:13 p.m.