Quantity is a property
Property (philosophy)
In modern philosophy, logic, and mathematics a property is an attribute of an object; a red object is said to have the property of redness. The property may be considered a form of object in its own right, able to possess other properties. A property however differs from individual objects in that...

 that can exist as a magnitude
Magnitude (mathematics)
The magnitude of an object in mathematics is its size: a property by which it can be compared as larger or smaller than other objects of the same kind; in technical terms, an ordering of the class of objects to which it belongs....

 or multitude
Counting is the action of finding the number of elements of a finite set of objects. The traditional way of counting consists of continually increasing a counter by a unit for every element of the set, in some order, while marking those elements to avoid visiting the same element more than once,...

. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more" or "less" or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value in terms of a unit of measurement. Quantity is among the basic classes
Class (philosophy)
Philosophers sometimes distinguish classes from types and kinds. We can talk about the class of human beings, just as we can talk about the type , human being, or humanity...

 of things along with quality
Quality (philosophy)
A quality is an attribute or a property. Attributes are ascribable, by a subject, whereas properties are possessible. In contemporary philosophy, the idea of qualities and especially how to distinguish certain kinds of qualities from one another remains controversial.-Background:Aristotle analyzed...

, substance
Substance theory
Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears....

, change
Change may refer to:- The process of becoming different:* Social change* Biological metamorphosis* Change , the mathematical study of change* Percentage change, in statistics* Fold change, in statistics...

, and relation. Being a fundamental term, quantity is used to refer to any type of quantitative properties or attributes of things. Some quantities are such by their inner nature (as number), while others are functioning as states (properties, dimensions, attributes) of things such as heavy and light, long and short, broad and narrow, small and great, or much and little. A small quantity is sometimes referred to as a quantulum.

Two basic divisions of quantity, magnitude
Magnitude (mathematics)
The magnitude of an object in mathematics is its size: a property by which it can be compared as larger or smaller than other objects of the same kind; in technical terms, an ordering of the class of objects to which it belongs....

 and multitude, imply the principal distinction between continuity (continuum
Continuum (theory)
Continuum theories or models explain variation as involving a gradual quantitative transition without abrupt changes or discontinuities. It can be contrasted with 'categorical' models which propose qualitatively different states.-In physics:...

) and discontinuity
Discontinuity may refer to:*Discontinuity , a harmless irregularity in a casting*Discontinuity in geotechnics is a plane or surface marking a change in physical or chemical properties in a soil or rock mass...


Under the names of multitude come what is discontinuous and discrete and divisible into indivisibles, all cases of collective nouns: army, fleet, flock, government, company, party, people, chorus, crowd, mess, and number. Under the names of magnitude come what is continuous and unified and divisible into divisibles, all cases of non-collective nouns: the universe, matter, mass, energy, liquid, material, animal, plant, tree.

Along with analyzing its nature and classification, the issues of quantity involve such closely related topics as the relation of magnitudes and multitudes, dimensionality, equality, proportion, the measurements of quantities, the units of measurements, number and numbering systems, the types of numbers and their relations to each other as numerical ratios.

Thus quantity is a property that exists in a range of magnitudes or multitudes. Mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...

, time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

, distance
Distance is a numerical description of how far apart objects are. In physics or everyday discussion, distance may refer to a physical length, or an estimation based on other criteria . In mathematics, a distance function or metric is a generalization of the concept of physical distance...

, heat
In physics and thermodynamics, heat is energy transferred from one body, region, or thermodynamic system to another due to thermal contact or thermal radiation when the systems are at different temperatures. It is often described as one of the fundamental processes of energy transfer between...

, and angular separation are among the familiar examples of quantitative properties
Quantitative property
A quantitative property is one that exists in a range of magnitudes, and can therefore be measured with a number. Measurements of any particular quantitative property are expressed as a specific quantity, referred to as a unit, multiplied by a number. Examples of physical quantities are distance,...

. Two magnitudes of a continuous quantity stand in relation to one another as a ratio
In mathematics, a ratio is a relationship between two numbers of the same kind , usually expressed as "a to b" or a:b, sometimes expressed arithmetically as a dimensionless quotient of the two which explicitly indicates how many times the first number contains the second In mathematics, a ratio is...

, which is a real number
Real number
In mathematics, a real number is a value that represents a quantity along a continuum, such as -5 , 4/3 , 8.6 , √2 and π...



The concept of quantity is an ancient one extending back to the time of Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and earlier. Aristotle regarded quantity as a fundamental ontological and scientific category. In Aristotle's ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

, quantity or quantum was classified into two different types, which he characterized as follows:
'Quantum' means that which is divisible into two or more constituent parts, of which each is by nature a 'one' and a 'this'. A quantum is a plurality if it is numerable, a magnitude if it is measurable. 'Plurality' means that which is divisible potentially into non-continuous parts, magnitude that which is divisible into continuous parts; of magnitude, that which is continuous in one dimension is length; in two breadth, in three depth. Of these, limited plurality is number, limited length is a line, breadth a surface, depth a solid. (Aristotle, book v, chapters 11-14, Metaphysics).

In his Elements
Euclid's Elements
Euclid's Elements is a mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria c. 300 BC. It is a collection of definitions, postulates , propositions , and mathematical proofs of the propositions...

, Euclid
Euclid , fl. 300 BC, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, was a Greek mathematician, often referred to as the "Father of Geometry". He was active in Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy I...

 developed the theory of ratios of magnitudes without studying the nature of magnitudes, as Archimedes, but giving the following significant definitions:
A magnitude is a part of a magnitude, the less of the greater, when it measures the greater; A ratio is a sort of relation in respect of size between two magnitudes of the same kind.

For Aristotle and Euclid, relations were conceived as whole numbers (Michell, 1993). John Wallis later conceived of ratios of magnitudes as real numbers as reflected in the following:
When a comparison in terms of ratio is made, the resultant ratio often [namely with the exception of the 'numerical genus' itself] leaves the genus of quantities compared, and passes into the numerical genus, whatever the genus of quantities compared may have been. (John Wallis, Mathesis Universalis)

That is, the ratio of magnitudes of any quantity, whether volume, mass, heat and so on, is a number. Following this, Newton then defined number, and the relationship between quantity and number, in the following terms: "By number we understand not so much a multitude of unities, as the abstracted ratio of any quantity to another quantity of the same kind, which we take for unity" (Newton, 1728).

Quantitative structure

Continuous quantities possess a particular structure that was first explicitly characterized by Hölder
Otto Hölder
Otto Ludwig Hölder was a German mathematician born in Stuttgart.Hölder first studied at the Polytechnikum and then in 1877 went to Berlin where he was a student of Leopold Kronecker, Karl Weierstraß, and Ernst Kummer.He is famous for many things including: Hölder's inequality, the Jordan–Hölder...

 (1901) as a set of axioms that define such features as identities and relations between magnitudes. In science, quantitative structure is the subject of empirical investigation and cannot be assumed to exist a priori
A priori and a posteriori (philosophy)
The terms a priori and a posteriori are used in philosophy to distinguish two types of knowledge, justifications or arguments...

 for any given property. The linear continuum
Continuum (theory)
Continuum theories or models explain variation as involving a gradual quantitative transition without abrupt changes or discontinuities. It can be contrasted with 'categorical' models which propose qualitatively different states.-In physics:...

 represents the prototype of continuous quantitative structure as characterized by Hölder (1901) (translated in Michell & Ernst, 1996). A fundamental feature of any type of quantity is that the relationships of equality or inequality can in principle be stated in comparisons between particular magnitudes, unlike quality, which is marked by likeness, similarity and difference, diversity. Another fundamental feature is additivity. Additivity may involve concatenation, such as adding two lengths A and B to obtain a third A + B. Additivity is not, however, restricted to extensive quantities but may also entail relations between magnitudes that can be established through experiments that permit tests of hypothesized observable manifestations of the additive relations of magnitudes. Another feature is continuity, on which Michell (1999, p. 51) says of length, as a type of quantitative attribute, "what continuity means is that if any arbitrary length, a, is selected as a unit, then for every positive real number, r, there is a length b such that b = ra".

Quantity in mathematics

Being of two types, magnitude and multitude (or number), quantities are further divided as mathematical and physical. In formal terms, quantities (numbers and magnitudes) - their ratios, proportions, order and formal relationships of equality and inequality - are studied by mathematics. The essential part of mathematical quantities is made up with a collection variables, each assuming a set of values and coming as scalar
Scalar (mathematics)
In linear algebra, real numbers are called scalars and relate to vectors in a vector space through the operation of scalar multiplication, in which a vector can be multiplied by a number to produce another vector....

, vectors
Vector (spatial)
In elementary mathematics, physics, and engineering, a Euclidean vector is a geometric object that has both a magnitude and direction...

, or tensor
Tensors are geometric objects that describe linear relations between vectors, scalars, and other tensors. Elementary examples include the dot product, the cross product, and linear maps. Vectors and scalars themselves are also tensors. A tensor can be represented as a multi-dimensional array of...

s, and functioning as infinitesimal, arguments, independent or dependent variables, or random and stochastic
Stochastic refers to systems whose behaviour is intrinsically non-deterministic. A stochastic process is one whose behavior is non-deterministic, in that a system's subsequent state is determined both by the process's predictable actions and by a random element. However, according to M. Kac and E...

 quantities. In mathematics, magnitudes and multitudes are not only two kinds of quantity but also commensurable with each other. The topics of the discrete quantities as numbers, number systems, with their kinds and relations, fall into the number theory. Geometry studies the issues of spatial magnitudes: straight lines (their length, and relationships as parallels, perpendiculars, angles) and curved lines (kinds and number and degree) with their relationships (tangents, secants, and asymptotes). Also it encompasses surfaces and solids, their transformations, measurements, and relationships.

Quantity in physical science

Establishing quantitative structure and relationships between different quantities is the cornerstone of modern physical sciences. Physics is fundamentally a quantitative science. Its progress is chiefly achieved due to rendering the abstract qualities of material entities into physical quantities, by postulating that all material bodies marked by quantitative properties or physical dimensions, which are subject to some measurements and observations. Setting the units of measurement, physics covers such fundamental quantities as space (length, breadth, and depth) and time, mass and force, temperature, energy, and quantum.

A distinction has also been made between intensive quantity and extensive quantity as two types of quantitative property, state or relation. The magnitude of an intensive quantity does not depend on the size, or extent, of the object or system of which the quantity is a property, whereas magnitudes of an extensive quantity are additive for parts of an entity or subsystems. Thus, magnitude does depend on the extent of the entity or system in the case of extensive quantity. Examples of intensive quantities are density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

 and pressure
Pressure is the force per unit area applied in a direction perpendicular to the surface of an object. Gauge pressure is the pressure relative to the local atmospheric or ambient pressure.- Definition :...

, while examples of extensive quantities are energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

, volume
Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by some closed boundary, for example, the space that a substance or shape occupies or contains....

 and mass
Mass can be defined as a quantitive measure of the resistance an object has to change in its velocity.In physics, mass commonly refers to any of the following three properties of matter, which have been shown experimentally to be equivalent:...


Quantity in logic and semantics

In respect to quantity, propositions are grouped as universal and particular, applying to the whole subject or a part of the subject to be predicated. Accordingly, there are existential and universal quantifiers. In relation to the meaning of a construct, quantity involves two semantic dimensions: 1. extension or extent (determining the specific classes or individual instances indicated by the construct) 2. intension (content or comprehension or definition) measuring all the implications (relationships and associations involved in a construct, its intrinsic, inherent, internal, built-in, and constitutional implicit meanings and relations).

Quantity in natural language

In human languages, including English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, number
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 is a syntactic category, along with person
A person is a human being, or an entity that has certain capacities or attributes strongly associated with being human , for example in a particular moral or legal context...

 and gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

. The quantity is expressed by identifiers, definite and indefinite, and quantifiers, definite and indefinite, as well as by three types of noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

s: 1. count unit nouns or countables; 2. mass nouns, uncountables, referring to the indefinite, unidentified amounts; 3. nouns of multitude (collective nouns). The word ‘number’ belongs to a noun of multitude standing either for a single entity or for the individuals making the whole. An amount in general is expressed by a special class of words called identifiers, indefinite and definite and quantifiers, definite and indefinite. The amount may be expressed by: singular form and plural from, ordinal numbers before a count noun singular (first, second, third…), the demonstratives; definite and indefinite numbers and measurements (hundred/hundreds, million/millions), or cardinal numbers before count nouns. The set of language quantifiers covers "a few, a great number, many, several (for count names); a bit of, a little, less, a great deal (amount) of, much (for mass names); all, plenty of, a lot of, enough, more, most, some, any, both, each, either, neither, every, no". For the complex case of unidentified amounts, the parts and examples of a mass are indicated with respect to the following: a measure of a mass (two kilos of rice and twenty bottles of milk or ten pieces of paper); a piece or part of a mass (part, element, atom, item, article, drop); or a shape of a container (a basket, box, case, cup, bottle, vessel, jar).

Further examples

Some further examples of quantities are:
  • 1.76 litres (liter
    - External links :*...

    s) of milk, a continuous quantity
  • 2πr metres, where r is the length of a radius
    In classical geometry, a radius of a circle or sphere is any line segment from its center to its perimeter. By extension, the radius of a circle or sphere is the length of any such segment, which is half the diameter. If the object does not have an obvious center, the term may refer to its...

     of a circle
    A circle is a simple shape of Euclidean geometry consisting of those points in a plane that are a given distance from a given point, the centre. The distance between any of the points and the centre is called the radius....

    expressed in metres (or meters), also a continuous quantity
  • one apple, two apples, three apples, where the number is an integer representing the count of a denumerable collection of objects (apples)
  • 500 people (also a count)
  • a couple conventionally refers to two objects
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