Math Symbols: Definitions & Meanings

Math symbols are signs or symbols that are commonly used to represent mathematical concepts and operations. In mathematical displays, they are prominently displayed to make it easier for viewers to recognize the role of each symbol.
= equals sign equality
inequality greater than or equal to
± plus - minus both plus and minus operations
> strict inequality greater than
( ) parentheses calculate expression inside first
÷ division sign / obelus division
× times sign multiplication
[ ] brackets calculate expression inside first
+ plus sign addition
± minus - plus both minus and plus operations
minus sign subtraction
approximately equal approximation
not equal sign inequality
a^b caret exponent
inequality less than or equal to
* asterisk multiplication
per-mille 1‰ = 1/1000 = 0.1%
multiplication dot multiplication
/ division slash division
n√a n-th root (radical) n/a
horizontal line division / fraction
mod modulo remainder calculation
ppb per-billion 1ppb = 1/1000000000
. period decimal point, decimal separator
ppt per-trillion 1ppt = 10-12
ab power exponent
√a square root √a ⋅ √a = a
4√a fourth root 4√a ⋅ 4√a ⋅ 4√a ⋅ 4√a = a
3√a cube root 3√a ⋅ 3√a ⋅ 3√a = a
% percent 1% = 1/100

The origin of the symbols we use for numbers is often neglected. Arguably, some of the symbols we learn in school are not the most useful to us when we are working as software developers, mathematicians, or scientists.

Most Used Math Symbols

Math symbols are incredibly important in math. These symbols have developed over the years and have a long history and tradition of their own.  They are used to describe probably all mathematical-related areas including physics, technology, and other forms of mathematics

While every country has its own set of mathematical formulas, diagrams, and equations, all forms of mathematics use the same set of math symbols.

Let's discover some of them: 

Equals Sign: =

Equals Symbol

The Equals Sign is a symbol of equality. The two sides of this sign are the same. The first written records of the symbol come from ancient Egypt. 

The Egyptians used this symbol to represent balance, equality and completeness. This symbol was also used by early mathematicians to indicate equations—the balancing of both sides of an equation.

Inequality: ≥

Inequality Symbol

The Inequality Symbol (Inequality Sign) is a mathematical symbol denoting inequality between two values. 

The symbol looks like a lowercase letter d with a slightly longer diagonal stroke or bump at the bottom.

Plus - minus: ±

Plus - minus Symbol

The plus-minus symbol (±) is a mathematical symbol used to represent the addition or subtraction of a number without changing its value. 

The plus-minus sign looks identical in most international and most U.S. standards, though there is an alternative form in the IEC 80000-13 standard (which also includes a fractional notation and binary, octal, and hexadecimal notations).

Strict inequality: >

Strict inequality Symbol

The strict inequality symbol, ≠, has a much more mathematical meaning than the inequality symbol, < . If you are doing any math involving the strict inequality symbol then you really shouldn't be using the normal inequality symbol.

Division sign: ÷

Division sign Symbol

Division is the process of finding the quotient of two numbers. The symbol used for division is ÷ which is called a division sign or obelus. 

Inspired by Mathematics, Department Symbol is made from combining three horizontal bars with a left slash. It is suitable for any related applications such as company symbols, icons, and trademarks.

Times sign: ×

Times sign Symbol

The "times" sign (×) is a mathematical symbol used to indicate multiplication. The sign often appears beneath a number to indicate repetition, a relationship between two or more numbers, or multiplication of the preceding quantity by the following one. 

For example , this notation: 2 × 3 indicates that the number 2 is to be multiplied by 3. This notation can also be written as 23 to indicate the same product.

Brackets: [ ] 

Brackets Symbol

The bracket is an important math symbol that you won't be able to work without in your higher math courses. Like with all mathematical symbols, its use can be confusing. 

This algebra lesson will help you understand how the bracket is used and when it's preferred over parentheses. 

Plus sign: +

Plus sign Symbol

Binary numbers plus sign meaning in math refers to the plus symbol "+" being used as a binary number sign. It is used to indicate that two successive numbers are to be added together. 

Minus sign: −

Minus sign Symbol

The minus sign in math is used at times to indicate the algebraic difference of two quantities. The minus sign in mathematics can be used either as a unary operator or as a binary operator.

In each of the aforementioned cases, the minus sign indicates that the result of an operation will be lesser than or equal to zero. 

It indicates subtraction for arithmetic operations (the term is not applicable for other mathematical descriptions, such as geometric or logical ones).

Asterisk: *

Asterisk Symbol

The asterisk symbol is used in mathematics, computing and telecommunications to represent various things. Asterisk comes from the Ancient Greek word asterisks - (asterismos) which means "little star". The word Asteriks, Asterisk’s original name, comes from ancient Egypt.

Percent: %

Percent Symbol

Why is percent symbol important in math? The importance of the percent (%) sign is due to the fact that it represents a part of the whole. It can be used with any base and any positive or negative number, and it can also be used to express a fraction that is not necessarily a multiple of 1/100.

That’s all. If you like this you should check my greek symbols blog post

Geometry Symbols

Geometry symbols are the most important part of geometry and math. We use them in everyday life. In a word, all the shapes we know and see today have been categorized based on these symbol shapes.

Iconic symbols such as infinity shape, equal sign, open bracket and others are essential ingredients within all math and geometry equations.

You can visit this page to see all Geometry symbols

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