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Re: [Phys-L] transform

On Fri, Aug 24, 2018, 1:20 PM Carl Mungan <> wrote:

We speak of Fourier transforms but Lorentz transformations.

Interesting observation. I hadn't noticed.

Do you think there’s a difference (in mathematical physics) between a
“transform” and a “transformation”?

On 08/24/2018 10:30 AM, Bob Sciamanda via Phys-l replied:

At least two differences. Spelling and pronunciation!

Bingo! Quite so.


1) Google tells me that "Lorentz transform" is less common,
but not unheard-of.

2) In general, I don't get worked up over terminology. This
example is just the tip of the iceberg:

Gauss’s law.
Newton’s method.
Cramer’s rule.
Euler’s identity.
Parseval’s theorem.
Maxwell’s equations.
Pascal’s principle.
The Peano axioms.
The Fourier transform.
The Lorentz transformation.
The Euclidean algorithm.
The Tolman relation.
The Kutta condition.
The Cauchy criterion.
The quadratic formula.
The big-bang model.

Most of these examples could be reworded with no change in meaning: Maxwell’s laws, Newton’s algorithm, Parseval’s identity, et cetera.

Sometimes a change in wording would change the meaning of a phrase ... but still, neither meaning is systematic. For example, the Maxwell relations are distinct from the Maxwell equations. However, this is due to historical accident and idiomatic interpretation, not to any systematic difference in meaning of the individual words. The same can be said of the the distinction between Laplace’s law and the Laplace equation.

For additional discussion, see: