There are numerate people who have limited experience in interpreting the algebra used in computer science papers. Therefore, it would be most useful if there were a list of all algebraic symbols used in the Yellow Paper, along with their definition as applied in the paper.

There is of couse this guide, however, for some of the symbols, there are multiple interpretaions.

Please list the symbols used and define their meaning. My understanding is as in my answer below. I've used bold italics where I'm particularly unsure. Please point out where I am wrong.

EDIT - I've posted the list as a community wiki.

  • Good idea. You should take the list and post it as an answer to your own question. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 15:13
  • If you make the answer a community wiki, it will be easy for people to add their own definitions to your answer Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 15:58
  • Is this asking for guidance of the notation such as Gavin's use of lowercase sigma for state transitions, or was it intended as only the definitions of the more general use mathematical notation as given below?
    – bekah
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 21:01
  • @bekah a complete list of all the character's and their meaning would be useful and could be added here (or another question asked). I was mainly looking for the mathemtical notation originally.
    – Lee
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 21:35
  • *characters (!)
    – Lee
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 13:15

2 Answers 2


Univerally recognised mathematical symbols and their name/meaning

≡ is defined as/is equivalent to

= is equal to

≠ is not equal to

‖...‖ size (length) of

∈ is in the following set

∉ is not in the following set

∀ for all

∪ union (common elements in adjacent sets)

∧ and

: such that

{} set

() function or tuple

[] array indexing

∨ or (e.g. eq 11), Unsure for equations 24 and 29

_> greater than

_+ addition

_- subtraction

∑ summation

{ either or --- generally used to denote cases, for example piecewise functions with behaviour like 'if this, that. Otherwise, this different thing'.

|...| no. bytes of (e.g. eq 96)

⌊...⌋ floor; lowest element in

⌈...⌉ ceiling; highest element in

⊕ exclusive or

[ *a*, *b*) real numbers greater than or equal to a and less than b

∅ empty set

· sequence concatenation (e.g. equations 166,227)

∃ there exists

Symbols which have a specific meaning in the Yellow Paper, but are not universally used in general mathematics

𝔹n hash of size n bytes


Handy reference to the symbols. Not sure this is 100% accurate, pull request appreciated.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.