Definition of Equivalent

It is said that something is equivalent to a different thing when there is a certain similarity, equality between them, or they have the same value. The adjective equivalent corresponds to the noun equivalence and in any of the contexts in which both terms are used it is possible to speak of a comparison between several things that present some degree of similarity.

math equivalency

In the sphere of mathematics and logic, the concept of equivalent is expressed through the symbol =, which means that in a formulation with said symbol, the parties involved have identical value. To carry out mathematical operations, it is necessary to take into account the equivalence relations, which are the relations between the elements of any set and their main characteristic is the concept of equality that they implicitly carry. The importance of equivalence relations lies in the fact that they divide the elements of a set into different classes, called equivalence classes (each element belongs to an exclusive class).

The equivalence principle and its classes allow you to carry out daily mathematical operations of all kinds, manage different units by applying the equivalence between the different measurement systems or calculate the value of one currency with respect to another, among many other possibilities.

The equivalent in other disciplines

When classifying and ordering the different kingdoms of nature, biologists study the characteristics of the species and look for similarities between them, that is, in what they are equivalent to each other. In this way, two different organs present equivalent functions between the male and the female of the same species (for example, the ovaries and the testicles) or two respiratory systems of animals have equivalent functions (for example, the pulmonary respiration of mammals and gill breathing of aquatic animals).

From a political and social point of view, each country has its administrative organization and its own agencies and to understand them it is necessary to establish some kind of equivalence or comparison.

In the field of language, the synonym is the phenomenon that expresses the equivalence between two words. In this case, the fact that two words are synonymous does not mean that they are absolutely equivalent, but that they are interchangeable even though they do not mean exactly the same thing.

If we analyze a human culture we find a series of elements (a language, some traditions and a certain history). To understand any cultural expression, it is necessary to establish some kind of equivalence with another cultural expression. From this approach, it can be appreciated that something that seems exclusive and different at first glance, is presented in another culture with a very similar meaning and, therefore, they present an equivalence (for example, the different types of dance, the rituals of each religion or different family models).