Table of mathematical symbols by introduction date

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The following table lists many specialized symbols commonly used in mathematics, ordered by their introduction date.


Symbol
Name Date of earliest use First author to use
+
plus sign ca. 1360 (abbreviation for Latin et resembling the plus sign) Nicole Oresme
minus sign 1489 (first appearance of minus sign, and also first appearance of plus sign in print) Johannes Widmann
radical symbol (for square root) 1525 (without the vinculum above the radicand) Christoff Rudolff
(…)
parentheses (for precedence grouping) 1544 (in handwritten notes) Michael Stifel
1556 Nicolo Tartaglia
=
equals sign 1557 Robert Recorde
×
multiplication sign 1618 William Oughtred
±
plus-minus sign 1628
proportion sign
n
 
radical symbol (for nth root) 1629 Albert Girard
<
>
strict inequality signs (less-than sign and greater-than sign) 1631 Thomas Harriot
xy
 
superscript notation (for exponentiation) 1636 (using Roman numerals as superscripts) James Hume
1637 (in the modern form) René Descartes
√ ̅
radical symbol (for square root) 1637 (with the vinculum above the radicand) René Descartes
%
percent sign ca. 1650 unknown
÷
division sign (a.k.a. obelus) 1659 Johann Rahn
infinity sign 1655 John Wallis


unstrict inequality signs (less-than or equals to sign and greater-than or equals to sign) 1670 (with the horizontal bar over the inequality sign, rather than below it)
1734 (with double horizontal bar below the inequality sign) Pierre Bouguer
d
differential sign 1675 Gottfried Leibniz
integral sign
:
colon (for division) 1684 (deriving from use of colon to denote fractions, dating back to 1633)
·
middle dot (for multiplication) 1698 (perhaps deriving from a much earlier use of middle dot to separate juxtaposed numbers)
division slash (a.k.a. solidus) 1718 (deriving from horizontal fraction bar, invented by Arabs in 12th century) Thomas Twining
inequality sign (not equal to) unknown Leonhard Euler
summation symbol 1755
proportionality sign 1768 William Emerson
partial differential sign (a.k.a. curly d or Jacobi's delta) 1770 Marquis de Condorcet
x
prime symbol (for derivative) Joseph Louis Lagrange
identity sign (for congruence relation) 1801 (first appearance in print; used previously in personal writings of Gauss) Carl Friedrich Gauss
[x]
 
integral part (a.k.a. floor) 1808
product symbol 1812
!
factorial 1808 Christian Kramp

set inclusion signs (subset of, superset of) 1817 Joseph Gergonne
1890 Ernst Schröder
|…|
absolute value notation 1841 Karl Weierstrass
determinant of a matrix Arthur Cayley
‖…‖
matrices notation 1843
nabla symbol (for vector differential) 1846 (previously used by Hamilton as a general-purpose operator sign) William Rowan Hamilton


intersection and union signs 1888 Giuseppe Peano
membership sign (is an element of) 1894
existential quantifier (there exists) 1897
aleph symbol (for transfinite cardinal numbers) 1893 Georg Cantor
{…}
braces, a.k.a. curly brackets (for set notation) 1895
Blackboard bold capital N (for natural numbers set) Giuseppe Peano
·
middle dot (for dot product) 1902 J. Willard Gibbs?
×
multiplication sign (for cross product)
logical disjunction (a.k.a. OR) 1906 Bertrand Russell
(…)
matrices notation 1909 Gerhard Kowalewski
[…]
 
1913 Cuthbert Edmund Cullis
contour integral sign 1917 Arnold Sommerfeld
Blackboard bold capital Z (for integer numbers set) 1930 Edmund Landau
1930s Commonly accredited to: Nicolas Bourbaki[citation needed]
Blackboard bold capital Q (for rational numbers set)
universal quantifier (for all) 1935 Gerhard Gentzen
empty set sign 1939 André Weil / Nicolas Bourbaki[citation needed]
Blackboard bold capital C (for complex numbers set) Nathan Jacobson
arrow (for function notation) 1936 (to denote images of specific elements) Øystein Ore
1940 (in the present form of f: X → Y) Witold Hurewicz
x
 
integral part (a.k.a. floor) 1962 Kenneth E. Iverson
end of proof sign (a.k.a. tombstone) unknown Paul Halmos

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Sources[edit]