BlogMath for Kids60 Useful Mathematical Symbols with Meaning & Examples

60 Useful Mathematical Symbols with Meaning & Examples [Updated]

Mathematical symbols are versatile representations of concepts, ideas, and numbers, that can be used to express relationships between quantities. They can be used across different types of equations and form a universal language of mathematics that can be referenced anytime.

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Students can also learn to solve more complex math equations by having an intuitive understanding of the value of symbols, such as pi, roman numerals, division, fractions, etc. 

Why do We Use Mathematical Symbols?

Kid Pointing toward Math Symbol on Blackboard

Mathematical symbols are used in a variety of ways to help extract maximum value from equations, calculations, and formulae. They make it easier to define math quantities, as well as develop a relationship between quantities that can be expressed in a unique way. They help us create a logical sequence that can be used to represent any physical event.

Mathematical  Symbols are also used to denote a predefined value, such as pi or Euler’s constant. They are used to provide a consistent standard, as well as simplify calculations that require the use of these numbers regularly. Symbols remain unchanged over the course of time, making them the best way of representing an idea or standard to use for any calculation.

Related Reading: Best Math Tricks That Will Turn Your Kids Into a Math Whiz

You can also use symbols to create a foundation of base knowledge for students. Math symbols, such as the equals signs, greater than sign, brackets, and parenthesis, form much of the preliminary working knowledge of all complex math equations. Students should be able to become comfortable with symbols to become confident in solving math problems.

Math symbols also make referencing much easier, as you can go back to these symbols to figure out the relationship between quantities. From derivatives to logarithms, every symbol holds a history of information that can be used to solve math equations. They can be used across languages as they are a consistent reference for any mathematician around the world.

10 Basic Mathematical Symbols

Basic Math Symbols

Let us start with the basic math symbols used to express relationships between quantities.

SymbolSymbol NameSymbol MeaningExample
+AdditionUsed to add two numbers9 + 10 = 19
SubtractionUsed to subtract one number from another11 – 2 = 9
=EqualsExpresses two values being the sameX = 33
ApproximationDenotes approximate equalnessπ ≈ 3.14
Not equal toUsed to express non-equalness15 ≠ Z
xMultiplicationUsed to multiply two numbers12 x 2 = 24
÷DivisionUsed to divide one number from another15 ÷ 5 = 3
>Greater thanIndicates that one value is larger than another5 > 2
<Less thanIndicates that one value is smaller than another3 < 6
%PercentRepresents a percentage50% of 100 = 50

Learn more common math symbols here.

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Related Reading: How to Get Better at Math in 10 Effective Steps

10 Set Theory and Venn Diagram Symbols

Venn Diagram Symbols

Set theory and representation of Venn diagrams are key to problem-solving.

SymbolSymbol NameSymbol MeaningExample
IntersectionDenotes common numbers between setsA ∩ B
UUnionDenotes the unification of two setsA U B
=EqualityDenotes equal elements in both setsA = B
XCartesian ProductUsed to denote sets of ordered pairsA X B
SupersetIndicates that one set is a superset of anotherB ⊇ A
Empty SetDenotes a set with no elements
Element ofIndicates membership of an element in a setx ∈ A
Not an element ofIndicates non-membership in a sety ∉ B
Proper SubsetIndicates a subset that is not equal to the setC ⊂ D
Proper SupersetIndicates a superset that is not equal to the setD ⊃ C

Access more set theory and Venn diagram symbols here.  

10 Roman Numerals Math Symbols

Roman Numerals

You may also come across Roman numerals, especially within complex math equations.

SymbolSymbol NameSymbol MeaningExample
IRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 1II = 2
VRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 5V = 5
XRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 10XX = 20
LRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 50L = 50
CRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 100C = 100
DRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 500D = 500
MRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 1000M = 1000
IVRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 4IV = 4
IXRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 9IX = 9
XLRoman NumeralRepresents the value of 40XL = 40

For more Roman numerals click here.

10 Non-Varying Math Constants

Non Varying Math Constants Symbols

You may also have to use math constants from time to time, which can be expressed as below.

SymbolSymbol NameSymbol MeaningExample
√2Square Root of 2Used as a positive number with an approx. value of 1.41421√2 ≈ 1.41421
eEuler’s ConstantUsed as a base of the natural logarithme ≈ 2.71828
πPiUsed to denote the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circleπ ≈ 3.14159
iImaginary UnitUsed as a root of negative 1 to denote complex numbersi² = -1
φGolden RatioRepresents the golden ratio, an irrational numberφ ≈ 1.61803
γEuler-Mascheroni ConstantA constant that appears in analysis and number theoryγ ≈ 0.57721
√3Square Root of 3Used as a positive number with an approx. value of 1.73205√3 ≈ 1.73205
√5Square Root of 5Used as a positive number with an approx. value of 2.23607√5 ≈ 2.23607
ln(2)Natural Log of 2Represents the natural logarithm of 2ln(2) ≈ 0.69315
ln(10)Natural Log of 10Represents the natural logarithm of 10ln(10) ≈ 2.30259

Access more math constants and what they mean here.

10 Algebra Math Symbols

Algebra symbols are one of the most used symbols in math and science.

SymbolSymbol NameSymbol MeaningExample
x, yVariablesUsed to denote placeholders for variable numbersx = y + 10
Proportional toUsed to indicate a proportional relationshipX ∝ y ⟹ x = ky
+AdditionUsed to add variables2x + 3y = 4z
f(x)Functional mapUsed to denote a functionf(x) = 2x – 9
=EqualityIndicates that two expressions are equala + b = c
InequalityIndicates that two expressions are not equala ≠ b
<Less thanIndicates that one expression is less than anotherx < y
>Greater thanIndicates that one expression is greater than anotherx > y
Less than or equal toIndicates that one expression is less than or equal to anotherx ≤ y
Greater than or equal toIndicates that one expression is greater than or equal to anotherx ≥ y

Know more algebra math symbols here.

10 Geometry Math Symbols and Their Meanings

Geometry symbols

Here are five common geometry symbols, each an important math signs used in mathematical expressions and equations:

SymbolSymbol NameSymbol MeaningExample
AngleRepresents an angle∠ABC
PerpendicularIndicates that two lines or segments are perpendicular to each otherAB ⊥ CD
ParallelIndicates that two lines or segments are parallel to each otherEF ∥ GH
CongruentIndicates that two figures are congruent (identical in form and size)Triangle ABC ≅ Triangle DEF
TriangleRepresents a triangle△PQR
DegreeRepresents the unit of angle (degree)45°
πPiUsed to denote the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circleπ ≈ 3.14159
rRadiusRepresents the radius of a circle or spherer = 5 cm
dDiameterRepresents the diameter of a circle or sphered = 10 cm
SummationIndicates the sum of a sequence of numbers∑ n = n(n+1)/2

These symbols are essential in understanding and solving problems in geometry, a branch of mathematics that deals with shapes, sizes, and properties of space.

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This blog provides a comprehensive overview of various mathematical symbols, each serving as a crucial tool in the language of mathematics. From basic operations like addition and subtraction to more complex concepts involving set theory, algebra, and geometry, these symbols form the backbone of mathematical communication. 

Understanding and using this math symbols list effectively allows students and mathematicians alike to express complex ideas and relationships clearly and concisely. Whether it’s the simplicity of an equal sign or the complexity of algebraic and geometric symbols, each plays a vital role in making mathematics a universal and powerful language.

Related Reading: Best & Fun Math Projects for Students

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does this symbol means <>?

The symbol “<>” means ‘not equal to’ or ‘different from’ in mathematics, typically used to compare two values.

What does => mean in math?

“=>” is a symbol used in mathematics to denote ‘implies’ or ‘leads to’, often used in logical statements and proofs.

What does ∈ ø mean in math?

The symbol means that an element of that set is an object that is contained within it. It is used extensively in set theory and is a key mathematical symbol used to describe the relationship.

How do I improve my child’s understanding of symbols?

Direct instructional methods may not be impactful as symbols are abstract and denote relationships between quantities. You can use games, online learning platforms, and video tools to help kids visualize what a symbol represents. Different characters, such as pi, imaginary constant, and roman numerals, can also be demonstrated with visual aids.

Andrew Scholl
Andrew Scholl is an educational expert with over 15 years of teaching experience in elementary and middle school classrooms. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.