# Greater-than sign

The **greater-than sign** is a mathematical symbol that denotes an inequality between two values, the widely adopted form of two equal-length strokes connecting in an acute angle at the right, **>**, has been found in documents dated as far back as the 1560s. In typical mathematical usage, the greater-than sign is typically placed between the two values being compared and signals that the first number is greater than the second number. Examples of typical usage include *1½ > 1* and *1 > −2*. Since the development of computer programming languages, the greater-than sign and the less-than sign have been repurposed for a range of uses and operations.

## Contents

## History[edit]

The symbols < and > first appear in *Artis Analyticae Praxis ad Aequationes Algebraicas Resolvendas* (*The Analytical Arts Applied to Solving Algebraic Equations*) by Thomas Harriot (1560–1621), which was published posthumously in 1631. The text states: "*Signum majoritatis ut* a > b *significet* a *majorem quam* b" and "*Signum minoritatis ut* a < b *significet* a *minorem quam* b."

According to historian Art Johnson (page 144), while Harriot was surveying North America, he saw a Native American with a symbol that resembled the greater-than sign both backwards and forwards ( > and < ).^{[1]} Johnson says it is likely he developed the two symbols from this symbol.^{[1]}

## Computing[edit]

The **greater-than sign** (`>`) is an original ASCII character (hex 3E, decimal 62).

The character in Unicode is U+003E > GREATER-THAN SIGN (HTML `>`

**·** `>`

); this is inherited from the same value in ASCII.

Apart from this, Unicode also has the following variants:

- U+232A 〉 RIGHT-POINTING ANGLE BRACKET (HTML
`〉`

**·**`⟩`

)

### Angle brackets[edit]

The greater-than sign is used for an approximation of the closing angle bracket (⟩). ASCII does not have angular brackets.

### Programming language[edit]

BASIC and C-family languages, (including Java and C++) use the operator `>` to mean "greater than". In Lisp-family languages, `>` is a function used to mean "greater than". In Coldfusion and Fortran, operator `.GT.` means "greater than".

### Double greater-than sign[edit]

The double greater-than sign (`>>`) is used for an approximation of the much greater than sign (≫). ASCII does not have the much greater-than sign.

The double greater-than sign (`>>`) is also used for an approximation of the closing guillemet (»).

In Java, C, and C++, the operator `>>` is the right-shift operator. In C++ it is also used to get input from a stream, similar to the C functions `getchar` and `fgets`.

In Haskell, the `>>` function is a monadic operator. It is used for sequentially composing two actions, discarding any value produced by the first; in that regard, it is like the statement sequencing operator in imperative languages, such as the semicolon in C.

### Triple greater-than sign[edit]

The triple greater-than sign (>>>) is the unsigned right shift operator in JavaScript, and is the default Python prompt of the interactive shell, often seen for code examples which can be executed interactively in the interpreter

```
~:$ python
Python 2.7.5 (default, Mar 9 2014, 22:15:05)
[GCC 4.2.1 Compatible Apple LLVM 5.0 (clang-500.0.68)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> print("Hello World")
Hello World
>>>
```

### Greater-than sign with equals sign[edit]

The greater-than sign plus the equals sign (`>=`) is used for an approximation of the greater than or equal to sign (≥, the opposite of ≤). ASCII doesn't have a greater-than-or-equal-to sign.

In BASIC, Lisp-family languages, and C-family languages (including Java and C++), operator `>=` means "greater than or equal to". In Sinclair BASIC it is encoded as a single-byte code point token.

In Fortran, operator `.GE.` means "greater than or equal to".

In Bourne shell and Windows PowerShell, the operator `-ge` means "greater than or equal to".

### Hyphen-minus with greater-than sign[edit]

In some programming languages (for example F#), the greater-than sign is used in conjunction with a hyphen-minus to create an arrow (`->`). Arrows like these could also be used in text where other arrow symbols are unavailable; in the R programming language, this can be used as the right assignment operator. In the C, C++, and C# programming languages, this is used as a member access operator.

### Shell scripts[edit]

In Bourne shell (and many other shells), greater-than sign is used to redirect output to a file. Greater-than plus ampersand (`>&`) is used to redirect to a file descriptor.

### Spaceship operator[edit]

Greater-than sign is used in the spaceship operator.

### HTML[edit]

In HTML (and SGML and XML), the greater-than sign is used at the end of tags. The greater-than sign may be included with `>`, while `≥` produces the greater-than or equal to sign.

### E-mail and the Internet[edit]

The greater-than sign is used to denote quotations in the e-mail and newsgroup formats, and this has been taken into use also in forums. It is also used before a sentence for a sense of implication. (>implying)

## See also[edit]

- Inequality (mathematics)
- Less-than sign
- Relational operator
- Mathematical operators and symbols in Unicode
- Much-greater-than sign
- Guillemet
- Material conditional