Like for example, it's common to use the Greek letter $\theta$ to represent an angle right? So what would a Greek person doing math use to represent an angle? Would they also use $\theta$? Or is there another notation that they would use in order for them to use their letters like we do? Such as if we say $A\geq B$, would a Greek student, mathematician, or whoever say: $\alpha \geq \beta$ or is there something else they say? It just seems like the Greek letters from a non-Greek point of view have so much meaning to us, but then how do they percieve their letters used in mathematics?

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    $\begingroup$ What do we use to denote slope of a straight line? Well, either the letter $\,a\,$ or $\,m\,$...I guess greek students use more or less the same letters as we do, but perhaps there's someone from Greece around to disipate any doubt. $\endgroup$
    – DonAntonio
    Oct 18 '12 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ Nice question - I've wondered about that myself. $\endgroup$
    – Ken Dunn
    Oct 18 '12 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ I just know about Russian books: They write the formulas in latin style and the rest in cyrillic. So my guess is that mathematical formula are more or less universal (as are numbers). $\endgroup$
    – Fabian
    Oct 18 '12 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Fabian i like your answer, I looked up on google Cyrillic and I found where the notation commonly used for partial derivatives comes from. $\endgroup$ Oct 18 '12 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ By the way, A and B are Greek letters too. $\endgroup$
    – AD.
    Mar 9 '18 at 11:14

The Greeks seems to use the Latin letters together with Greek letters as the rest of us. Here is a screen dump from some notes on Functional analysis. Of course this is just an example. enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting, thank you for that. I never thought about the fact that latin letters are pretty much the same as English letters. I will accept this as an answer that makes sense to me, but I will leave it up to anyone to believe what they believe is right $\endgroup$ Oct 18 '12 at 17:47

I am Greek.
We use all the letters, Greek or Latin. But we pronounce some of them in a different way.
For example the letter $\mu$ is pronounced "me". The letter $\beta$ as "vita". The angles are almost always named as $\theta, \phi, \omega$.
If somebody writes $A\ge B$ we read the same as $\alpha\ge \beta$.
The only problem is when you want a student to understand that $\chi \psi$ denotes $\chi\cdot \psi$ but $\ln a$ has nothing to do with $l\cdot n \cdot a$.
Finally, I wanted to add that actually $\pi$ is not pronounced like the food - for example (apple-pie) - but like "me" with the letter p at the beginning (that is, "pe").

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    $\begingroup$ That might cause some giggles in elementary schools here on $\pi$-Day (March 14) ;-) $\endgroup$
    – robjohn
    Oct 28 '20 at 16:49

In my experience with Greeks, they set $a = \alpha$ and $b=\beta$ etc... however, the Greeks I knew were beyond associating a concept with a letter, so perhaps these are not the Greeks which you seek.

I do recall many conversations of the form: "is it "a" or is it "$\alpha$"" to which I would inevitably get the annoyed retort: "yes".


They also use the same (Greek) letters. For example, for angles, it is very common to use $\phi$ or $\theta$ and in equations, they use $\chi$ and $\psi$. Similarly, they use the Greek alphabet (capital letters) Α, Β, $\Gamma$, $\Delta$, etc., for points in Geometry, etc cetera.


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