I want to ask a question about the best term to use describe problems such as these where there are multiple steps to the problem.

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Because I am looking for a term, I am considering it a terminology question.

I originally asked on mathoverflow who pointed me over to Math Educators who pointed me to this place (SE.Mathematics). Is it the right place to ask such a question? Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ It is extremely hard to know if a question is on- or off-topic without knowing what that question is. Your best bet is to read through the Help Center and, if you think that your question is on-topic, post it. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ A corresponding question on Mathematics Educators Meta: Can Mathematics Educators be used to ask about terminology questions? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ It is called long addition in many, many places online. I can find about four different places. That isn't really answering this query : but perhaps, I just want to investigate your question before I can classify it as properly on-topic and answerable. At least one proper and justifiable answer exists i.e. "long addition". Love to hear about others. Another point that matters : who are you describing this to? Students at a school, or a pedagogical journal/conference for teachers? Either way, I'd just use long addition. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ If you're at a conference where you're discussing faster ways to add large lists of numbers , like a mental math conference or something , then I've seen at least one place where this is called the "traditional" method as well, to contrast with the faster methods (casting out nines etc.) Finally, may I add "vertical addition" to the conversation as well. All of these are used in at least two different places. Basically, I think your question may or may not be on-topic, but I seem to have some ideas on how to answer it, even if it's broad! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 13:27
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    $\begingroup$ A sampling of well-received Questions about terminology might suggest ways to ask such things in a good way on the main Math.SE site. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


In principle terminology questions are ontopic. The question as is strikes me as slightly vague.

"Long addition" is a term that I think is used for the specific calculation. Thus it may be this. "Long multiplication" is quite common for multiplication. If you want a shared term I would not know, but invoking the other terms might help to sharpen the question.

In any case "as is" I would not know if "long addition" would satisfy you as an answer.

Furthermore, "best" is usually not a good word to use, especially not without further qualification. It does make a difference if you search a term to use for students or if you are writing a scholarly article for a pedagogical journal.

Or, somebody might think X is best while nobody uses it and Y is common. What then? Do you answer X or Y? Alright if it is as clear cut one could say both, but again it adds ambiguity to the question.

Thus, I recommend to clarify the question before asking.


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