# Approximation symbol: Is $\pi \approx 3.14\dots$ equivalent to $\pi \fallingdotseq 3.14\dots$?

This could be a trivial question, but what is exactly the difference of between these two expressions? Am I correct to state the both interchangeably whenever I need to express the approximation of $\pi$? I'm bit confused as here, it states $\pi$ can be express by $\fallingdotseq$ as it's not a rational number, but $\pi$ can also be expressed by a series (asymptotic), so it should be $\approx$ as well.

$$\pi \approx 3.14\dots$$ $$\pi \fallingdotseq 3.14\dots$$

• The second symbol is written \fallingdotseq in LaTeX, but I haven't seen it before. Jul 29, 2010 at 10:28
• I see. We use ≒ quite occasionally in Japan.
– c4il
Jul 31, 2010 at 8:48
• I don't see anywhere on the Wikipedia page you linked to where it recommended writing $\pi \fallingdotseq 3.14\ldots.$ It says that $\fallingdotseq$ means "asymptotically equal to," which is a different kind of approximation. Of course it is possible Wikipedia is wrong. Dec 19, 2017 at 3:10

Any mathematical notation is ok as long as it is common knowledge in your community. For instance, I believe I fully understand the meaning of the $\approx$ symbol. However, I haven't ever seen the second symbol you provided.

To be on the sure side you should provide a definition of any relation symbol you don't consider to be common knowledge. This may happen as a short remark ("..., where $\approx$ denotes ...") or maybe as a table of the used symbols in the front matter of your work. As with any definition in mathematics, there is no right or wrong in the symbol/notion/etc. you use, only proper or unsound definitions.

Also: When in doubt, use the symbol that is used more commonly in the standard textbooks of your field. There is no benefit in being avant-garde at notation.

While it is certainly true that with the proper definition there is now 'wrong' notation, perhaps it should be mentioned that some notation is more suggestive and/or easier to work with than others, e.g. Arabic numeral vs. Roman numerals, the various symbols for the derivative, and countless others. The actual symbols are arbitrary, but good notation can certainly promote the flow of ideas more easily.

Also, do I remember correctly that Feynman gave up trying to invent more efficient notation for simple math when he was quite young because nobody could understand what he was doing?

A good notation has a subtlety and suggestiveness which at times make it almost seem like a live teacher. --Bertrand Russell

• Yes, you remember correctly, he mentions it in "Surely You're Joking". Aug 9, 2010 at 9:59

The $$\approx$$ symbol and the $$\fallingdotseq$$ symbol both have the same denotation to generally mean "approximately", with the latter symbol commonly used throughout some Asian countries like Japan and Korea. You can read more about the symbols here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equals_sign

The first one with the equal sign and the two dots is actually the Japanese version....the bottom one is more common in the West.