I found this in a Computer Science pseudocode context (see page 4 of this paper).

Double inequality image


4 Answers 4


It means exactly the same as $\le$.

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    $\begingroup$ Is there any particular reason for using this sign instead of $\le$ ? $\endgroup$
    – 8128
    Jan 11, 2012 at 11:34
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    $\begingroup$ It might just be the author's preference, or the journal's convention, or just because it's an old paper and there were typographical restrictions. If you start reading even older stuff with maths in it, you'll be surprised what kooky notation and language they use (at least, it's considered kooky now). $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2012 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Doug: It's likely that the latter evolved from the former; the meaning of $\leqq$ and $\le$ is the same, but convention has it that $\le$ is now the most commonly used. This is probably because there's no distinction that really needs to be made. This is in contrast to, say, $\simeq$ and $\cong$ in topology, which do mean different things (respectively, homotopy equivalence and homeomorphism). $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2012 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ ${\lower 1pt\lt}\atop\raise 1pt =$ apparently came first. jeff560.tripod.com/relation.html . I could not find any information on when the modern symbol "$\le$" was first used. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2012 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ In short, $\leqq=\leq$. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2012 at 12:44

I add a comment for the sake of completeness. As said, in general $\geqq$ means $\geq$, but in some old math texts it is possible to find the following distinction for a real vector $x$:

  • "Positive" denoted as $x > 0$: all the elements of $x$ are strictly positive;
  • "Semipositive" denoted as $ x \geq 0$: all the elements of $x$ are nonnegative but at least one of them is strictly positive;
  • "Nonnegative" denoted as $ x \geqq 0$: all the elements of $x$ are nonnegative.

In other terms, with this notation, $x \geq 0$ implies $x \neq 0$.


It is the same old $\le$ symbol.

Mathematical notation is far from set in stone or standardised, as might appear to a beginner. Here's a sample of the variations in the inequality signs (taken from symbols-a4.pdf):

a sample of inequality signs a sample-continued

Of course, most of this is not commonly used; my guess is that they have been included only for historical purposes and for completeness.


In the given context, it means “less than or equal to,” just as “≤” means. However, it is coded as a separate character (not just a glyph variant), so it could be used for some other meaning. A symbol means whatever people make it mean.

Historically, it is a glyph variant, and it has been encoded as a character primarily for compatibility reasons, see Unicode Standard, pages 491–492.

According to the ISO 80000-2 standard, the character to be used is “≤” (U+2264).


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