In mathematics, a formula is an entity constructed using the symbols and formation rules of a given logical language.
In science, a specific formula is a concise way of expressing information symbolically as in a mathematical or chemical formula.
In modern chemistry, a chemical formula is a way of expressing information about the proportions of atoms that constitute a particular chemical compound, using a single line of chemical element symbols, numbers, and sometimes other symbols, such as parentheses, brackets, and plus (+) and minus (–) signs.
The plural of formula can be spelled either formulae (like the original Latin) for mathematical or scientific senses, or formulas for more general senses. The informal use of the term formula in science refers to the general construct of a relationship between given quantities.
For example, determining the volume of a sphere requires a significant amount of integral calculus; but, having done this once, mathematicians can produce a formula to describe the volume in terms of some other parameter (the radius for example).
This particular formula is:
Having obtained this result, and knowing the radius of the sphere in question, we can quickly and easily determine its volume. Note that the quantities V, the volume, and r the radius are expressed as single letters. This convention, while less important in a relatively simple formula, means that mathematicians can more quickly manipulate larger and more complex formulae.
Expressions are distinct from formulae in that they cannot contain an equals sign; whereas formulae are comparable to sentences, expressions are more like phrases.
In a general context, formulae are applied to provide a mathematical solution for real world problems. Some may be general: F = ma, which is one expression of Newton's second law, is applicable to a wide range of physical situations. Other formulae may be specially created to solve a particular problem; for example, using the equation of a sine curve to model the movement of the tides in a bay. In all cases however, formulae form the basis for all calculations.
Famous quotes containing the word formula:
“Its hard enough to adjust [to the lack of control] in the beginning, says a corporate vice president and single mother. But then you realize that everything keeps changing, so you never regain control. I was just learning to take care of the belly-button stump, when it fell off. I had just learned to make formula really efficiently, when Sarah stopped using it.”
—Anne C. Weisberg (20th century)
“In the most desirable conditions, the child learns to manage anxiety by being exposed to just the right amounts of it, not much more and not much less. This optimal amount of anxiety varies with the childs age and temperament. It may also vary with cultural values.... There is no mathematical formula for calculating exact amounts of optimal anxiety. This is why child rearing is an art and not a science.”
—Alicia F. Lieberman (20th century)
“I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failurewhich is: Try to please everybody.”
—Herbert B. Swope (18821958)