Sign up ×
Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When $a$ divides $b$ we say $a | b$. Where does the $|$ sign come from?

This is not homework, just personal interest in the history of mathematical language.

share|cite|improve this question
Maybe it developed from the notation used for long division, which seems less arbitrary (since it's used to help lay out a process neatly) than $a|b$ – Daniel Freedman Jan 11 '12 at 18:05

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.