List of common physics notations

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This is a list of common physical constants and variables, and their notations. Note that bold text indicates that the quantity is a vector.

Latin characters[edit]

Symbol Meaning SI unit of measure
magnetic vector potential
area square meters (m2)
amplitude meter
atomic mass number
acceleration meters per second squared (m/s2)
magnetic flux density
also called the magnetic field density or magnetic induction
tesla (T), or equivalently,
weber per square meter (Wb/m2)
capacitance farad (F)
heat capacity joule per kelvin (J⋅K−1)
constant of integration varied depending on context
speed of light (in vacuum) 299,792,458 meter per second (m/s)
speed of sound 340.29 meter per second (m/s)
specific heat capacity joule per kilogram per kelvin (J⋅kg−1⋅K−1)
viscous damping coefficient kilogram per second (kg/s)
electric displacement field
also called the electric flux density
coulomb per square meter (C/m2)
density kilograms per cubic meter (kg/m3)
distance meter (m)
direction unitless
impact parameter meter (m)
diameter meter (m)
differential (e.g. )
differential vector element of surface area A, with infinitesimally small magnitude and direction normal to surface S square meter (m2)
differential element of volume V enclosed by surface S cubic meter (m3)
electric field newton per coulomb (N⋅C−1), or equivalently, volt per meter (V⋅m−1)
energy joule (J)
Young's Modulus pascal (Pa) or newton per square meter (N/m2)
eccentricity unitless
2.71828... (base of the natural logarithm) unitless
elementary charge coulomb (C)
force newton (N)
Faraday constant coulombs per mole (C⋅mol−1)
frequency hertz (Hz)
friction newton (N)
the gravitational constant newton meter squared per kilogram squared (N⋅m2/kg2)
acceleration due to gravity meter per second squared (m/s2), or equivalently, newton per kilogram (N/kg)
magnetic field strength ampere per meter (A/m)
Hamiltonian joule (J)
height meter (m)
Planck constant joule second (J⋅s)
reduced Planck constant joule second (J⋅s)
action joule second (J⋅s)
intensity watt per square meter (W/m2)
sound intensity watt per square meter (W/m2)
electric current ampere (A)
moment of inertia kilogram meter squared (kg⋅m2)
intensity watt per square meter (W/m2)
imaginary unit
Cartesian x-axis basis unit vector unitless
free current density (not including bound currents due to polarization or magnetization) ampere per square meter (A/m2)
impulse kilogram meter per second (kg⋅m/s)
imaginary unit (electrical)
jerk meters per second cubed (m/s3)
Cartesian y-axis basis unit vector unitless
kinetic energy joule (J)
Boltzmann constant joule per kelvin (J/K)
wavenumber, wave vector radians per meter (m−1)
stiffness newtons per meter (N⋅m−1)
Cartesian z-axis basis unit vector unitless
inductance henry (H)
luminosity watt (W)
angular momentum newton meter second (N⋅m⋅s or kg⋅m2⋅s−1)
Lagrangian joule (J)
length meter (m)
azimuthal quantum number unitless
magnetization ampere per meter (A/m)
moment of force
often simply called moment or torque
newton meter (N⋅m)
mass kilogram (kg)
normal vector unit varies depending on context
atomic number unitless
refractive index unitless
principal quantum number unitless
amount of substance mole
power watt (W)
probability unitless
momentum kilogram meter per second (kg⋅m/s)
pressure pascal (Pa)
electric charge coulomb (C)
Heat joule (J)
electric charge coulomb (C)
electrical resistance ohm (Ω)
Ricci tensor
gas constant joule per mole per kelvin (J⋅mol−1⋅K−1)
radius vector (position) meter (m)
radius or distance meter (m)
surface area m2
entropy joule per kelvin (J/K)
action joule second (J⋅s)
arc length meter (m)
displacement meter (m)
period second (s)
temperature kelvin (K) or Celsius (C)
time second (s)
four-velocity meter per second (m/s)
potential energy joule (J)
internal energy joule (J)
relativistic mass kilogram (kg)
energy density joule per cubic meter (J/m3) or joule per kilogram (J/kg) depending on the context
also called electric potential difference
volt (V)
volume cubic meter (m3)
shear force
velocity meter per second (m/s)
mechanical work joule (J)
width meter (m)
a generic unknown varied depending on context
displacement meter (m)
electrical impedance ohm (Ω)

Greek characters[edit]

Symbol Name Meaning SI unit of measure
alpha angular acceleration radian per second squared (rad/s2)
fine-structure constant unitless
beta velocity in terms of the speed of light c unitless
gamma Lorentz factor unitless
gamma ray
shear strain
heat capacity ratio unitless
delta change in a variable (e.g. ) unitless
Laplace operator per square meter (m−2)
displacement (usually small) meter (m)
Dirac delta function
epsilon permittivity farad per meter (F/m)
strain unitless
epsilon nought vacuum permittivity constant
zeta damping ratio unitless
eta energy efficiency unitless
coefficient of viscosity
also called simply viscosity
pascal second (Pa⋅s)
jerk meter per second cubed (m/s3)
theta angular displacement radian (rad)
kappa torsion coefficient
also called torsion constant
newton meter per radian (N⋅m/rad)
lambda cosmological constant per second squared (s−2)
wavelength meter (m)
eigenvalue non-zero vector
fuel to oxidizer ratio in rocket fuel
mu magnetic moment ampere square meter (A⋅m2)
coefficient of friction unitless
dynamic viscosity pascal second (Pa⋅s)
permeability (electromagnetism) henry per meter (H/m)
reduced mass kilogram (kg)
gravitational parameter
mu nought vacuum permeability constant
nu frequency hertz (Hz)
kinematic viscosity meters squared per second (m2/s)
pi 3.14159... (irrational number) unitless
rho mass density
usually simply called density
kilogram per cubic meter (kg/m3)
volume charge density coulomb per cubic meter (C/m3)
resistivity ohm meter (Ω⋅m)
sigma summation operator
electrical conductivity siemens per meter (S/m)
normal stress pascal (Pa)
tau torque newton meter (N⋅m)
shear stress pascal (Pa)
time constant second (s)
6.28318... () unitless
phi field strength unit varies depending on context
magnetic flux weber (Wb)
electric potential volt (V)
Higgs field work function
psi wave function m−3/2
omega electric resistance ohm
angular frequency radian per second (rad/s)

Other characters[edit]

Symbol Name Meaning SI unit of measure
nabla dot the divergence operator
often pronounced "del dot"
per meter (m−1)
nabla cross the curl operator
often pronounced "del cross"
per meter (m−1)
nabla delta (differential operator)
"der", "dow", "die", "partial" or simply "d" partial derivative (e.g. )
D'Alembert operator

See also[edit]