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In other scripts
"=" and "＝" redirect here. For double hyphens, see Double hyphen.
For other uses, see Equals (other).
For technical reasons, ":=" redirects here. For the computer
programming assignment operator, see Assignment (computer science).
For the definition symbol, see List of mathematical symbols
§ Symbols based on equality.
A well-known equality featuring the equals sign
The equals sign or equality sign (=) is a mathematical symbol used to
indicate equality. It was invented in 1557 by Robert Recorde. In an
equation, the equals sign is placed between two (or more) expressions
that have the same value. In
Unicode and ASCII, it is U+003D = equals
sign (HTML =).
2 Usage in mathematics and computer programming
2.1 Usage of several equals signs
3 Other uses
3.1.1 Tone letter
3.1.2 Personal names
4 Related symbols
4.1 Approximately equal
4.2 Not equal
4.5 In logic
4.6 Other related symbols
5 Incorrect usage
7 See also
10 External links
The etymology of the word "equal" is from the
Latin word "æqualis" as
meaning "uniform", "identical", or "equal", from aequus ("level",
"even", or "just").
The first use of an equals sign, equivalent to 14x+15=71 in modern
The Whetstone of Witte
The Whetstone of Witte by Robert Recorde.
Recorde's introduction of "="
The "=" symbol that is now universally accepted in mathematics for
equality was first recorded by Welsh mathematician
Robert Recorde in
The Whetstone of Witte
The Whetstone of Witte (1557). The original form of the symbol was
much wider than the present form. In his book Recorde explains his
design of the "Gemowe lines" (meaning twin lines, from the Latin
And to auoide the tediouſe repetition of theſe woordes : is
equalle to : I will ſette as I doe often in woorke vſe, a paire
of paralleles, or Gemowe lines of one lengthe, thus: =, bicauſe noe
.2. thynges, can be moare equalle.
And to avoid the tedious repetition of these words: is equal to: I
will set as I do often in work use, a pair of parallels, or Gemowe
lines of one length, thus: =, because no 2 things, can be more equal.
According to Scotland's
University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews History of
The symbol '=' was not immediately popular. The symbol was used by
some and æ (or œ), from the
Latin word aequalis meaning equal, was
widely used into the 1700s.
Usage in mathematics and computer programming
In mathematics, the equals sign can be used as a simple statement of
fact in a specific case (x = 2), or to create definitions
(let x = 2), conditional statements
(if x = 2, then …), or to express a universal
(x + 1)2 = x2 + 2x + 1.
The first important computer programming language to use the equals
sign was the original version of Fortran, FORTRAN I, designed in
1954 and implemented in 1957. In Fortran, "=" serves as an assignment
operator: X = 2 sets the value of X to 2. This somewhat
resembles the use of "=" in a mathematical definition, but with
different semantics: the expression following "=" is evaluated first
and may refer to a previous value of X. For example, the assignment
X = X + 2 increases the value of X by 2.
A rival programming-language usage was pioneered by the original
version of ALGOL, which was designed in 1958 and implemented in 1960.
ALGOL included a relational operator that tested for equality,
allowing constructions like if x = 2 with essentially
the same meaning of "=" as the conditional usage in mathematics. The
equals sign was reserved for this usage.
Both usages have remained common in different programming languages
into the early 21st century. As well as Fortran, "=" is used for
assignment in such languages as C, Perl, Python, awk, and their
descendants. But "=" is used for equality and not assignment in the
Pascal family, Ada, Eiffel, APL, and other languages.
A few languages, such as
BASIC and PL/I, have used the equals sign to
mean both assignment and equality, distinguished by context. However,
in most languages where "=" has one of these meanings, a different
character or, more often, a sequence of characters is used for the
other meaning. Following ALGOL, most languages that use "=" for
equality use ":=" for assignment, although APL, with its special
character set, uses a left-pointing arrow.
Fortran did not have an equality operator (it was only possible to
compare an expression to zero, using the arithmetic IF statement)
until FORTRAN IV was released in 1962, since when it has used the
four characters ".EQ." to test for equality. The language B introduced
the use of "==" with this meaning, which has been copied by its
descendant C and most later languages where "=" means assignment.
The equals sign is also used in defining attribute–value pairs, in
which an attribute is assigned a value.
Usage of several equals signs
In PHP, the triple equals sign (===) denotes value and type
equality, meaning that not only do the two expressions evaluate to
equal values, they are also of the same data type. For instance, the
expression 0 == false is true, but 0 === false is
not, because the number 0 is an integer value whereas false is a
without type coercion". However, in
cannot be described by any simple consistent rules. The expression
0 == false is true, but 0 == undefined is false,
even though both sides of the == act the same in Boolean context. For
in favor of ===.
In Ruby, equality under == requires both operands to be of identical
type, e.g. 0 == false is false. The
=== operator is flexible
and may be defined arbitrarily for any given type. For example, a
value of type Range is a range of integers, such as 1800..1899.
(1800..1899) == 1844 is false, since the types are different
(Range vs. Integer); however (1800..1899) === 1844 is true,
=== on Range values means "inclusion in the range". Note that
under these semantics,
=== is non-symmetric; e.g.
1844 === (1800..1899) is false, since it is interpreted to
=== rather than Range#===.
The equals sign is sometimes used in Japanese as a separator between
The equals sign is also used as a grammatical tone letter in the
orthographies of Budu in the Congo-Kinshasa, in Krumen, Mwan and Dan
in the Ivory Coast. The
Unicode character used for the tone
letter (U+A78A) is different from the mathematical symbol
The signature of Santos-Dumont, showing a hyphen that looks like an
A possibly unique case of the equals sign of European usage in a
person's name, specifically in a double-barreled name, was by pioneer
aviator Alberto Santos=Dumont, as he is also known not only to have
often used an equals sign (=) between his two surnames in place of a
hyphen, but also seems to have personally preferred that practice, to
display equal respect for his father's French ethnicity and the
Brazilian ethnicity of his mother.
In linguistic interlinear glosses, an equals sign is conventionally
used to mark clitic boundaries: the equals sign is placed between the
clitic and the word that the clitic is attached to.
In Chemical formulas, the two parallel lines denoting a double bond
are commonly rendered using an equals sign.
Unicode mathematical operators
Approximation § Unicode
Symbols used to denote items that are approximately equal include the
LaTeX simeq), a combination of ≈ and =, also used to
indicate asymptotic equality
LaTeX cong), another combination of ≈ and =, which is
also sometimes used to indicate isomorphism or congruence
∼ (U+223C), which is also sometimes used to indicate proportionality
or similarity, being related by an equivalence relation, or to
indicate that a random variable is distributed according to a specific
probability distribution (see also tilde)
∽ (U+223D), which is also used to indicate proportionality
LaTeX doteq), which can also be used to represent the
approach of a variable to a limit
≒ (U+2252), commonly used in Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean
The symbol used to denote inequation (when items are not equal) is a
slashed equals sign "≠" (U+2260; 2260,Alt+X in Microsoft Windows).
In LaTeX, this is done with the "neq" command.
Most programming languages, limiting themselves to the 7-bit ASCII
character set and typeable characters, use ~=, !=, /=, =/=, or
<> to represent their Boolean inequality operator.
The triple bar symbol "≡" (U+2261,
LaTeX equiv) is often used to
indicate an identity, a definition (which can also be represented by
U+225D "≝" or U+2254 "≔"), or a congruence relation in modular
arithmetic. The symbol "≘" can be used to express that an item
corresponds to another.
The symbol "≅" is often used to indicate isomorphic algebraic
structures or congruent geometric figures.
Equality of truth values, i.e. bi-implication or logical equivalence,
may be denoted by various symbols including =, ~, and ⇔.
Other related symbols
Additional symbols in
Unicode related to the equals sign include:
≌ ALL EQUAL TO)
≔ COLON EQUALS) (see also assignment (computer science))
≕ EQUALS COLON)
≖ RING IN EQUAL TO)
≗ RING EQUAL TO)
≚ EQUIANGULAR TO)
≛ STAR EQUALS)
≜ DELTA EQUAL TO)
≞ MEASURED BY)
≟ QUESTIONED EQUAL TO).
The equals sign is sometimes used incorrectly within a mathematical
argument to connect math steps in a non-standard way, rather than to
show equality (especially by early mathematics students).
For example, if one were finding the sum, step by step, of the numbers
1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, one might incorrectly write
1 + 2 = 3 + 3 = 6 + 4 = 10 + 5 = 15.
Structurally, this is shorthand for
([(1 + 2 = 3) + 3 = 6] + 4 = 10) + 5 = 15,
but the notation is incorrect, because each part of the equality has a
different value. If interpreted strictly as it says, it implies
3 = 6 = 10 = 15 = 15.
A correct version of the argument would be
1 + 2 = 3, 3 + 3 = 6, 6 + 4 = 10, 10 + 5 = 15.
U+003D = equals sign (HTML =)
U+2260 ≠ not equal to (HTML ≠ · ≠)
2 + 2 = 5
Plus and minus signs
^ See also geminus and Gemini.
^ Recorde, Robert,
The Whetstone of Witte
The Whetstone of Witte … (London, England: Jhon
Kyngstone, 1557), the third page of the chapter "The rule of equation,
commonly called Algebers Rule."
^ "Robert Recorde". MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Retrieved
19 October 2013.
^ "Comparison Operators". PHP.net. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
^ why the lucky stiff. "5.1 This One's For the Disenfranchised". why's
(poignant) Guide to Ruby. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
^ Rasmussen, Brett (30 July 2009). "Don't Call it Case Equality".
pmamediagroup.com. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
^ Peter G. Constable; Lorna A. Priest (31 July 2006). Proposal to
Encode Additional Orthographic and Modifier Characters (PDF).
Retrieved 19 October 2013.
^ Hartell, Rhonda L., ed. (1993). The Alphabets of Africa. Dakar:
UNESCO and SIL. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
Latin Extended-D code chart" (PDF). Unicode.org. Retrieved
19 October 2013.
^ Gray, Carroll F. (November 2006). "The 1906 Santos=Dumont No.
14bis". World War I Aeroplanes. No. 194: 4.
^ "Conventions for interlinear morpheme-by-morpheme glosses".
^ a b "Mathematical Operators" (PDF). Unicode.org. Retrieved 19
^ Capraro, Robert M.; Capraro, Mary Margaret; Yetkiner, Ebrar Z.;
Corlu, Sencer M.; Ozel, Serkan; Ye, Sun; Kim, Hae Gyu (2011). "An
International Perspective between Problem Types in Textbooks and
Students' understanding of relational equality". Mediterranean Journal
for Research in Mathematics Education. 10 (1–2): 187–213.
Retrieved 19 October 2013.
Cajori, Florian (1993). A History of Mathematical Notations. New York:
Dover (reprint). ISBN 0-486-67766-4.
Boyer, C. B.: A History of Mathematics, 2nd ed. rev. by Uta C.
Merzbach. New York: Wiley, 1989 ISBN 0-471-09763-2 (1991 pbk ed.
Earliest Uses of Symbols of Relation
Image of the page of
The Whetstone of Witte
The Whetstone of Witte on which the equals sign
Scientific Symbols, Icons, Mathematical Symbols
Robert Recorde inven