02/07/04

When I was teaching a remedial mathematics course a number of
years ago at Hackensack High School, I learned that the answer to this question depends
on where you are! Several of my students had grown up on the
island of Jamaica. They could not believe that our textbook
and I could be so mistaken. I was interested in their difficulty
and discovered that on Jamaica (and in most of the English
speaking world) what I grew up calling a **trapezoid**,
"a quadrilateral with two and only two sides parallel," is called a
trapezium and what we in the United States call a **trapezium**, "a quadrilateral
with no sides parallel," is
called a trapezoid in these other places.

A third definition of a **trapezoid**, "a quadrilateral with two
sides parallel," is used in Korea and some
European countries. (With this definition a parallelogram is a
trapezoid.)

This is all something like the fact that a billion in the U.S., is equal
to a thousand million (1,000,000,000 or 10^{9}) and a billion in England is equal
to a million million (1,000,000,000,000 or 10^{12}).

Check out trapezium,
trapezoid,
quadrilateral, and
billion.

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