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Infinitesimal

A hypothetical number that is larger than zero but smaller than any positive real number. Although the existence of such numbers makes no sense in the real number system, many worthwhile results can be obtained by overlooking this obstacle.

Note: Sometimes numbers that aren't really infinitesimals are called infinitesimals anyway. The word infinitesimal is occasionally used for tiny positive real numbers that are nearly equal to zero.

 

See also

Differential, infinity, infinite

 


  this page updated 21-feb-16
Mathwords: Terms and Formulas from Algebra I to Calculus
written, illustrated, and webmastered by Bruce Simmons
NCTM Web Bytes December 2004 Web Bytes March 2005 Web Bytes