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How do Greeks distinguish using Greek letters as a variable, or as a mathematical number such as Pi?

Pretty much every Greek letter is used as a mathematical variable. How would you differentiate between using a Greek letter as a specific variable (Such as μ for apple, as μήλο means apple) or as a general variable like Theta (The known degree of a right triangle) or Pi (3.14159265359)?

January 8, 2017



It's not much different in English.

r is the radius, i is the square root of minus 1, x, y, z are often variables, and so on. Single letters are used a fair bit in maths and physics. Yet people usually don't get confused.

  • 244

It's usual that some letters are used for certain variables. θ,φ for angles, χ,ψ,ζ for unknown variables of equations, the constant π=3,14159 , ρ=radius etc. It's not common that you need all those variables in every problem, though. So, if you don't deal with angles at all, for example, you can use θ or φ for whatever you specify. Θ in physics for example can mean temperature (and not angle, of course). I hope I answered the question well, I am not sure if this is what you meant. ;)


In print symbols are written in italics, of course in handwriting there is no distinction.

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