Archive for nabla

Del or Nabla?

Posted in Biographical, mathematics with tags , , on October 12, 2021 by telescoper

I am today preoccupied with vector calculus so, following on from yesterday’s notational rant, I am wondering about the relative frequency of usage of names for this symbol, commonly used in math to represent the gradient of a function ∇f:

To write this in Tex or Latex you use “\nabla” which is, or so I am told, so called because the symbol looks like a harp and the Greek word for the Hebrew or Egyptian form of a harp is “nabla”:

When I was being taught vector calculus many moons ago, however, the name always used was “del”. That may be a British – or even a Cambridge – thing. Here is an example of that usage a century ago.

Anyway, I am interested to know the relative frequency of the usage of “nabla” and “del” so here’s a poll.

There may be other terms, of course. Please enlighten me through the comments box if you know of any…