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Can Multiply be used as noun, such as in "matrix multiply"? I heard of this from some Americans.

Or should it be "matrix multiplication" instead?

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  • Anything can be a noun. This would have to be a very specific situation like “that matrix multiply (symbol) is fuzzy, we should reprint the page”. Your instinct seems good. Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 22:05
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    I don't think mathematicians are exactly renowned for their precise use of English (they think maths is the only "true" language anyway). But as this NGram shows, although there's a significant minority using the "wrong" form, the vast majority do get it right. Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 0:14
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    If someone said "matrix multiply" I would think they were talking about a particular algorithm (or implementation of one on a computer) for matrix multiplication.
    – Mark S.
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 1:25
  • why is that? @MarkS. Are you saying "matrix multiply" is correct for computer algorithms?
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 1:31
  • @Tim This is a guess, but I think it may come from the imperative form of the verb. If I want to "matrix multiply" two expressions in a program, I might call the function MatrixMultiply or something like that. At the very least, Mathematica has a function NonCommutativeMultiply, which may have given me the idea.
    – Mark S.
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 1:35

3 Answers 3

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It needs to be "multiplication". "Multiply" is strictly a verb.

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Agree with FumbleFingers. The experts from any domain have their own language and way of convincing the message. I'm a healthcare provider and while describing/discussing medical things among us, we generally overlook grammar because for us, that's trivial in that case.

I searched several dictionaries but could not find the word multiply as a noun. In my pro version of WordWeb (cannot give link here as it's not online) it says...

Multiply as a verb and adjective. Derived: Noun: multiple, multiplication, multiplier.

I further tried to understand the term in mathematics as well. As you got it right, the correct term is Matrix Multiplication. So, maybe, the experts use it in an informal way but the message is convinced.

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Multiply can be a noun. As in, "I performed one multiply followed by two adds." In this case, a multiply refers to a mathematical operation. It's often used this way in math and computer science.

It's similar to how we say, "I went for a run." run is normally a verb but in this case it's a noun.

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