In mathematics, physics, mechanics and the like, one encounters eigen as a prefix in eigenvalues and eigenvectors, as well as in eigenstrain and eigenstress. The word comes from German and means “own” or “intrinsic”. In the English scientific literature eigen is widely accepted and commonly employed.

Have the terms eigenvecteur and eigenvaleurs ever been used in French (even as neologisms)? Is their use in French acceptable (university level and higher) nowadays (in place of the adjective "propre"; that is, valeurs propres, vecteurs propres)? In that case the diphthong ei should be pronounced as in German (aï) ?

If its use isn't acceptable, what reasons could explain why eigen was not introduced in French?

  • 2
    In French, the word eigen is not in use as you can easily see. In English, we use it since the first translation of Hilbert, who introduced the term in German (cf. wikipedia: valeur propre, vecteur propre, espace propre). Wikipedia also says that Jordan introduced the French terminology: valeur propre. – user66288 Nov 7 '18 at 12:10
  • @user66288 Comments should be used to ask for clarifications or suggest improvements. Your comment looks like an answer so would benefit to be posted as such. (As a bonus, changing your nickname from user<somenumber> to something more distinctive would be nice...) – jlliagre Nov 7 '18 at 15:12

The academic translation of eigenvalue is

valeur propre 

This is what you will most likely find in most of the academic documents.

  • Vecteur propre for eigenvector – Regis Portalez Nov 7 '18 at 17:04

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