The last and seldom used letter of the alphabet. Pronounced "zee" in the US and "zed" in Canada and other civilized places. (Observe: character Z in the Men in Black movie pronounced his name "zed".)

In graphing, the z axis is used to represent the third dimension.

The letter z is conventionally used to represent a complex number, of the form z = x + iy, where i is the square root of -1, making iy an imaginary number. It is also a shorter name for the left-wing alternative news source Z magazine.

In phonetics terms, the z sound in English is a voiced alveolar fricative: Unlike the s sound, which it otherwise resembles, we produce sound with our vocal cords when we say z; this give the sibilant a buzzy quality. The sound is produced between the tongue and the alveolar ridge.

The exact sound of a z varies from country to country, but like any letter most of the sounds it can stand for are at least somewhat related. In German, Maltese and some transliterations of Hebrew it's a sort of ts sound; it's the same in Italian, except when it's more of a dz. In modern Pinyin Chinese, z is used to represent the sound that earlier schemes rendered as ts or tz, so that Lao Tzu becomes Lao Zi or Laozi. This is an unaspirated alveolar sound, Excalibre tells me; like the other languages mentioned so far, it's an affricate, which is to say it's a fricative that starts with a plosive sound. In Japanese, it is dz in zu, but otherwise a lot like the English z. In Castilian Spanish it is pronounced as a th, but in the Spanish of Andalucia and South America (and also Basque) it is pronounced more like an s. In Scottish names like Dalziel and Menzies, the z takes the place of the extinct yogh, which stood for a y or a gh sound.

Ž in various languages (that's z with a hacek), zh, Chechnya's z with a line through it and the Russian Ж are all pronounced as a voiced palato-alveolar fricative, much like the s sound in the English pleasure and leisure and the French j. Other accented zs include ż and ź, both used in Polish.

With thanks to Gritchka for much of the information on phonetics.

Z (capital) is used in aviation, navigation and meteorology as well as by radio amateurs as an equivalent of UTC and stands for "zero longitude," that being the longitude of the Greenwich meridian. Pronounced Zulu since it's normally used within a context that requires use of the phonetic alphabet. Time thus formulated is called Zulu time. Z, rather unintuitively, has zone A one hour behind it and zone N one hour ahead.

Zeta or Zita (Ζ,ζ) is the sixth letter of the modern Greek alphabet. In older alphabets it was seventh and moved up to sixth after the digamma was dropped. It also serves as the numeral 7 in contexts in which Arabic numerals are not typically used in Greek.

Z is also the electrical symbol for impedance and to designate a device or circuit which has two or more components but is referred to as a whole, such as a parasitic tube grid supression device made of a resistor with a coil wired around it in parallel.

A French chain of children's clothing shops. From 1986 to 1992, main sponsors of the eponymous professional cycling team (a successor to the long-lived Peugeot team and a precursor to the GAN and subsequently Crédit Agricole teams) which featured riders including Robert Millar, Pascal and Jérome Simon, Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle and Greg Lemond, who won the Tour de France in Z colours (blue, puce and yellow, since you ask) in 1990.

Z is a real-time strategy computer game for DOS (a Windows 95 version was later released) by the Bitmap Brothers, published by Virgin Interactive on the 31st July 1996.

It is very simple compared to most real-time strategy games: there is no building creation or placement. There are already factories placed on the map, which you can take over and use to build such things as jeeps and train men, and radar.

The map consists of 12 areas, in a 3x4 grid. Each of these areas contains a flag, which you must capture in order to hold that area. While you are holding an area, you have control of any factories or other buildings which may be inside that area.

The AI tends to be rather stupid at times, preferring to blow up terrain rather than take the faster route around it.

Another fun feature of the game is the ability to snipe the drivers out of vehicles, allowing your own soliders to take these vehicles over. The sound clips are rather funny too, although the novelty quickly wears off.

It is a very fast-paced and fun game, although too simple for some peoples tastes. The hilarious FMV movie clips, featuring two incompetent, lazy and idiotic robots, easily make up for any shortcomings of the game itself.

There is a sequel called Z: Steel Soldiers.

Z (pronounced "Zed" in this context) is a language used in software engineering for formally describing systems of all kinds, especially information processing systems, the most common example being computer programs.

Z is not a programming language. It is much closer to a markup language such as HTML and XML. It describes the system in terms of inputs, outputs and data types. It relies on a lot of math, especially logic, calculus and set theory, with the aim of a Z specification being to produce a description of the system that can be proven mathematically correct: in other words, you can prove that your program will always behave in a way that is precisely defined and totally predictable, if not always the way you wished/designed it to.

Z is a funny language to look at: boxes and lines and strange mathematical-notation arrows for functions, surjections, injections and bijections abound. It looks like math, and as such it cannot be easily typed straight into a computer using an ordinary keyboard. Instead, using backslash as an escape symbol, a variety of codes are used to represent the various mathematical symbols. These can be interpreted by LaTeX to "draw out" a more human-readable version of the specification.

Z cannot be compiled, because it's not a programming language. However, an interpreter called fuzz can be used with LaTeX to perform type checking. However, this simply ensures that the specification is valid Z and that data types are used consistently: the specification could still be wrong or nonsensical.

Z is a scale used in model railroading. Created by Märkin/Marklin, a German model train company in 1972. Z scale is 1:220. Current major z scale manufacturers are Märklin, Micro-Trains, Rogue, and others.

The symbol on an engine-order telegraph (EOT) used to designate the order "all stop".

Z, the band, was formed in the early 90's by Dweezil Zappa and Ahmet Zappa with Zappa stalwarts Mike Keneally and Scott Thunes. Shampoohorn was released in 1994, and was loved by guitarists and some critics but was not promoted much at all. Music For Pets followed in 1996 to similar response.

Originally consisting of the Zappa brothers and some FZ alumni, the drummer seat was in a state of constant flux. While touring pre album, the tour drummer, Joe Travers became the official drummer, and personality conflicts determined that ultimately Zappa alum Thunes would not remain with the band. A friend of the drummer, Bryan Beller joined up and remained until the band imploded.

The band existed in a very difficult time in the Zappa family, as Frank Zappa was dying of cancer. This led to numerous delays in album releases and supporting tours, neither of which helped the promote the band. The excessive downtime resulted in bassists Beller and guitarist Keneally working up a side project that ultimately got them fired.

Reportedly, there are dozens of songs that were recorded during the many delays in album release that have yet to see the light of day. A special box set with a video and a CD of outtakes was (and probably still is) available through Barfko-Swill, the Zappa distribution arm. One legendary track, Purple Guitar, showed up on Dweezil's 2000 solo album Automatic. All of the Z players appear on Automatic.

Shampoohorn (1994)

Music for Pets (1996)

Z wasn't the first formal method I learned, nor was it the last, but it's surely one I like a lot, in the right situation. I learned it first at a summer school in 1986 held in Oxford and taught by members of the Programming Research Group. Much later I was a part of the ANSI standards committee charged with forming the US position on both Z and, also, the Vienna Development Method (VDM).

Z, in this context, pronounced Zed (like Rip Torn's character in Men in Black), is a formal notation (which really just means that there's a right way and many wrong ways to write it down) that's been used, primarily, to create models of software. It is named Z as short-hand for ZF which, itself, is short-hand for Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory which is the underlying basis for the notation.

If that's my definition, which I'll be the first to admit is quite a mouthful, what does it all mean and why would I care?

The Z notation can be used to specify software systems, by which I mean that it is possible to build a model of the system and reason (the verb form) about the system before any software is written. This doesn't sound exciting unless the system in question might be related to safety, something that if it failed could cause loss of life. The most extreme example of this would be that Z was used to model the software in a heart pacemaker. What makes the notation useful is that it can be simpler to build the model, so the incremental cost isn't outrageous.

As you might guess, the Z notation encompasses ZF set theory. But it also includes predicate calculus as a mechanism for writing expressions about sets. One of the most important parts, that makes specifications readable, is the schema calculus. This appears to be specialized forms of boxes but there is so much more to it than just being funny boxes.

A Z specification then becomes a collection of schemas. There are different types of schema. Some are used to describe the state space of the model, others are used to model how the state space changes. (OK, that's a bit of a lie; the underlying semantics are different, but that's a very deep discussion.) Finally there are schemas that are made up of combinations of other schemas (using the schema calculus).

Because it can be used in such an abstract way, Z is very powerful, the model doesn't have to be exactly the way software works - Z is used to model the what of what the system is supposed to do, not the how, so a lot of implementation details don't need to be written.

There are tools out there to help support writing Z specifications, fuzz and cadiz are tools I used to help format Z specifications as well as do some checking. Z-eves was a tool that could be used to create specifications and also prove theorems about the specifications. There was also a tool that I saw, but didn't use, from Australia that could perform a sort of execution of the specification - albeit very slowly.

There are a lot of good books out there about Z, however, I'd warn against one book. Not because the book is bad but because it has the most misleading title. It's called Understanding Z and was written by Mike Spivey. You'd think that would be a good book to understand Z. However, that's not quite the case. I've been told that it is a rewrite of Mike's D.Phil. thesis, which makes sense. The content of the book uses a Z-like notation to provide the denotational semantics of Z. If that sounds tricky, it is!

Z (ze; in England commonly, and in America sometimes, zed; formerly, also, iz"zerd)

Z, the twenty-sixth and last letter of the English alphabet, is a vocal consonant. It is taken from the Latin letter Z, which came from the Greek alphabet, this having it from a Semitic source. The ultimate origin is probably Egyptian. Etymologically, it is most closely related to s, y, and j; as in glass, glaze; E. yoke, Gr. , L. yugum; E. zealous, jealous. See Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 273, 274.


© Webster 1913.

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