A graphic sign established by convention to represent a magnitude, a number, an operation, a relationship, a mathematical or logical entity of a given nature.

  • Symbols sometimes resemble the objects they symbolize, as does the symbol for the measure of an angle (∠), although this is rarely the case.
  • Mathematical symbols are generally written forms that have been established through years or even centuries of use.


Certain symbols are literal; they are letters that represent or correspond to a value, magnitude or operation; for example :

  • letters in units of measure, such as m or cm;
  • unknowns, such as the letter x in the equation x + 7 = 12 ;
  • given numbers, such as a and b in the relationship a + b = b + a.

Certain symbols are numerical :

  • Roman numerals, such as I, V, X, L, C, D, M;
  • the ten Arabic numerals 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Certain symbols are grouping symbols :

  • braces: { };
  • brackets: [ ];
  • parentheses: ( ).

Certain symbols are graphics that resemble the concepts they symbolize; for example :

  • the symbol for the relationship of perpendicularity, ⊥;
  • the symbol for the relationship of parallelism, //;
  • the symbol that identifies an angle, ∠;
  • the symbol for the relationship of approximate equality, ≈.

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