Glossary of mathematical symbols
A mathematical symbol is a figure or a combination of figures that is used to represent a mathematical object, an action on mathematical objects, a relation between mathematical objects, or for structuring the other symbols that occur in a formula. As formulas are entirely constituted with symbols of various types, many symbols are needed for expressing all mathematics.
Normally, entries of a glossary are structured by topics and sorted alphabetically. This is not possible here, as there is no natural order on symbols, and many symbols are used in different parts of mathematics with different meanings, often completely unrelated. Therefore, some arbitrary choices had to be made, which are summarized below.
The article is split into sections that are sorted by an increasing level of technicality. That is, the first sections contain the symbols that are encountered in most mathematical texts, and that are supposed to be known even by beginners. On the other hand, the last sections contain symbols that are specific to some area of mathematics and are ignored outside these areas. However, the long section on brackets has been placed near to the end, although most of its entries are elementary: this makes it easier to search for a symbol entry by scrolling.
Most symbols have multiple meanings that are generally distinguished either by the area of mathematics where they are used or by their syntax, that is, by their position inside a formula and the nature of the other parts of the formula that are close to them.
As readers may not be aware of the area of mathematics to which is related the symbol that they are looking for, the different meanings of a symbol are grouped in the section corresponding to their most common meaning.
Most symbols have two printed versions. They can be displayed as Unicode characters, or in LaTeX format. With the Unicode version, using search engines and copy-pasting are easier. On the other hand, the LaTeX rendering is often much better (more aesthetic), and is generally considered a standard in mathematics. Therefore, in this article, the Unicode version of the symbols is used (when possible) for labelling their entry, and the LaTeX version is used in their description. So, for finding how to type a symbol in LaTeX, it suffices to look at the source of the article.
For most symbols, the entry name is the corresponding Unicode symbol. So, for searching the entry of a symbol, it suffices to type or copy the Unicode symbol into the search textbox. Similarly, when possible, the entry name of a symbol is also an anchor, which allows linking easily from another Wikipedia article. When an entry name contains special characters such as [, ], and |, there is also an anchor, but one has to look at the article source to know it.
Finally, when there is an article on the symbol itself (not its mathematical meaning), it is linked to in the entry name.
Many sorts of brackets are used in mathematics. Their meanings depend not only on their shapes, but also on the nature and the arrangement of what is delimited by them, and sometimes what appears between or before them. For this reason, in the entry titles, the symbol □ is used for schematizing the syntax that underlies the meaning.
In this section, the symbols that are listed are used as some sorts of punctuation marks in mathematical reasoning, or as abbreviations of English phrases. They are generally not used inside a formula. Some were used in classical logic for indicating the logical dependence between sentences written in plain English. Except for the first two, they are normally not used in printed mathematical texts since, for readability, it is generally recommended to have at least one word between two formulas. However, they are still used on a black board for indicating relationships between formulas.