From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search


Lambda (uppercase Λ, lowercase λ; Greek: Λάμ(β)δα lam(b)da) is the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals lambda has a value of 30. Lambda is related to the Phoenician letter Lamed Lamedh. Letters in other alphabets that stemmed from lambda include the Latin L and the Cyrillic letter El (Л, л). The ancient grammarians and dramatists give evidence to the pronunciation as [laːbdaː] (λάβδα) in Classical Greek times.[1] In Modern Greek the name of the letter, Λάμδα, is pronounced [lamða]; the spoken letter itself has the sound of [l] as with Latinate "L".

In early Greek alphabets, the shape and orientation of lambda varied.[2] Most variants consisted of two straight strokes, one longer than the other, connected at their ends. The angle might be in the upper-left, lower-left ("Western" alphabets), or top ("Eastern" alphabets). Other variants had a vertical line with a horizontal or sloped stroke running to the right. With the general adoption of the Ionic alphabet, Greek settled on an angle at the top; the Romans put the angle at the lower-left.

The HTML 4 character entity references for the Greek capital and small letter lambda are "Λ" and "λ", respectively.[3] The Unicode numbers for lambda are U+039B and U+03BB.

The Greek alphabet on a black figure vessel, with a Phoenician-lamed-shaped lambda. (The gamma has the shape of modern lambda.)


Upper-case letter Λ

Lower-case letter λ

Lower-case lambda

Litra symbol

The Roman libra and Byzantine lítra (λίτρα), which served as both the pound mass unit and liter volume unit, were abbreviated in Greek using lambda with modified forms of the iota subscript (as λͅ). These are variously encoded in Unicode. The Ancient Greek Numbers Unicode block includes 10183 GREEK LITRA SIGN (𐆃) as well as 𐅢, which is described as 10162 GREEK ACROPHONIC HERMIONIAN TEN[7] but was much more common as a form of the litra sign. A variant of the sign can be formed from 0338 COMBINING LONG SOLIDUS OVERLAY and either 039B GREEK CAPITAL LETTER LAMDA (Λ̸) or 03BB GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA (λ̸).[8]

Lambda as a programming construct

>>> list = ['woman', 'man', 'horse', 'boat', 'plane', 'dog']
>>> sorted(list, key = lambda word: (word[-1]))
['horse', 'plane', 'dog', 'woman', 'man', 'boat']

Lambda as a name

  • Stargate SG-1 uses a modified upper-case lambda, with a small circle above the apex, to indicate Earth. This symbol has since become associated with the entire franchise.[10][11]
  • Brothers of the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity are considered Lambda Men, or simply Lambdas.
  • The popular science fiction universe of Star Wars uses a transport vehicle known as the Lambda-class shuttle that when viewed forward has the shape of the lowercase lambda.[12]
  • Lambda is occasionally used in graphic design to represent a stylised 'A'. Examples include the Disney movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the logo of the band Angels & Airwaves, the logo of the band Dream Theater, the logo of electronics company Samsung, and the logo of the engineering consultancy Atkins. Conversely, the name of the band Λucifer (pronounced lucifer) is sometimes spelled Aucifer.
  • The upper-case lambda is used as the alias of Providence, Rhode Island based musician Xavier Valentine.[13]
  • The Half-Life franchise of video games uses an encircled block style lower-case lambda as the franchise logo (Half-Life 2 adds the numeral 2 into the logo as superscript), prominently featured on the chest of Gordon Freeman's (the protagonist) powered armor, known as an HEV suit. In the first game, the logo appears at the entrances of the Black Mesa Research Facility's Lambda Complex, which conducted teleportation research. In Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, the encircled block lambda is the universal symbol of the Resistance, often spraypainted to mark the location of safehouses and hidden supply caches; full-time Resistance members wear armbands containing a lower-case lambda without the circle.
  • In the 2D fighting game series BlazBlue, a recurring character named Lambda-11 appears in the various games' story modes and as a playable character.
  • Several LGBT rights organizations, such as Lambda Legal and the Lambda Literary Award derive their names from the use of a lower-case lambda as a symbol for LGBT rights.
  • In the Visual Novel Umineko: When They Cry, there is a character named Lambdadelta.
  • In the RPG game Tales of Graces, originally made for the Wii, Lambda is the name of the main story's antagonist (voiced by Keith Silverstein). Lambda was originally a spirit inhabiting the body of a young boy being cared for by Doctor Cornell. However, Emeraulde sees Lambda as a tool, proving it by injecting his cells into monsters and has the ability to control them telepathically. She attempts to destroy Lambda, but he escapes to the artificial planetary satellite Ephinea, with Cornell sacrificing his life to make sure he lives. Arriving on the satellite, Lambda was shunned by humanity and was hunted by Emeraulde, who sends Sophie, a humanoid creation designed to destroy Lambda, down to eliminate it. Over the centuries following, Lambda grew to hate and despise humanity. At the start of the game, Lambda attacks Asbel, Hubert, Cheria, and Richard when they were kids. After yet another defeat by Sophie, Lambda finds a kindred spirit in Richard, who's suffering just as he did and the two fuse. 7 years later, Lambda sets about in Richards body to absorb all the Eleth from all the Valkynies Cryas in the world so he can grow in power and fuse with the Lastalia, the planet's core so he can exterminate humanity so that he can stop the pain caused both to him and to the planet by humanity's wars and fears. Upon defeat, Asbel voluntarily decides to be Lambda's host, with the hero's left eye serving as it's resting place as it goes into a deep sleep, so he can see that humanity can change. in the Lineage and Legacies epilogue, which takes place 6 months after the core game, Asbel had gotten used to Lambda living in his eye, though whenever he has doubts or strong fears, his eye hurts, likely as a result of Lambda reacting to the negative emotions. During a battle against Wyverns, Lambda awakens and allows Asbel to use his power. During the final battle against Fodra, the living sentient core of the planet who also despises humanity because of the desolation caused to her world, Asbel fuses with Lambda for a short moment and absorbs Fodra so that Lambda, as Asbel did for him, can show that humanity can change. He and Fodra go to a deep slumber after the battle.
  • There is a PlayStation Vita game known as Cytus Lambda.
  • The musical group Axwell Λ Ingrosso use the lambda as symbol in their name.
  • An automotive oxygen sensor (O2 sensor) is also known as a lambda probe, sensor, sond, or sonde.
  • Lambda is used in art and photography to refer to a digital Type C print, or to the equipment that is used to produce it.
  • In the study of gasoline engines, Lambda sometimes refers to the air/fuel mixture going into the engine.

Character Encodings

Unicode uses the spelling "lamda" in character names, instead of "lambda".

  • Greek Lambda / Coptic Laula
Character Λ λ
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 923 U+039B 955 U+03BB 7463 U+1D27 11414 U+2C96 11415 U+2C97
UTF-8 206 155 CE 9B 206 187 CE BB 225 180 167 E1 B4 A7 226 178 150 E2 B2 96 226 178 151 E2 B2 97
Numeric character reference Λ Λ λ λ ᴧ ᴧ Ⲗ Ⲗ ⲗ ⲗ
Named character reference Λ λ
DOS Greek 138 8A 162 A2
DOS Greek-2 182 B6 229 E5
Windows 1253 203 CB 235 EB
TeX \Lambda \lambda
  • Mathematical Lambda
Character 𝚲 𝛌 𝛬 𝜆 𝜦 𝝀
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 120498 U+1D6B2 120524 U+1D6CC 120556 U+1D6EC 120582 U+1D706 120614 U+1D726 120640 U+1D740
UTF-8 240 157 154 178 F0 9D 9A B2 240 157 155 140 F0 9D 9B 8C 240 157 155 172 F0 9D 9B AC 240 157 156 134 F0 9D 9C 86 240 157 156 166 F0 9D 9C A6 240 157 157 128 F0 9D 9D 80
UTF-16 55349 57010 D835 DEB2 55349 57036 D835 DECC 55349 57068 D835 DEEC 55349 57094 D835 DF06 55349 57126 D835 DF26 55349 57152 D835 DF40
Numeric character reference 𝚲 𝚲 𝛌 𝛌 𝛬 𝛬 𝜆 𝜆 𝜦 𝜦 𝝀 𝝀
Character 𝝠 𝝺 𝞚 𝞴
Encodings decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
Unicode 120672 U+1D760 120698 U+1D77A 120730 U+1D79A 120756 U+1D7B4
UTF-8 240 157 157 160 F0 9D 9D A0 240 157 157 186 F0 9D 9D BA 240 157 158 154 F0 9D 9E 9A 240 157 158 180 F0 9D 9E B4
UTF-16 55349 57184 D835 DF60 55349 57210 D835 DF7A 55349 57242 D835 DF9A 55349 57268 D835 DFB4
Numeric character reference 𝝠 𝝠 𝝺 𝝺 𝞚 𝞚 𝞴 𝞴

These characters are used only as mathematical symbols. Stylized Greek text should be encoded using the normal Greek letters, with markup and formatting to indicate text style.

See also


  1. Herbert Weir Smyth. A Greek Grammar for Colleges. I.1.c
  2. "Epigraphic Sources for Early Greek Writing". Retrieved 2011-10-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. World Wide Web Consortium W3C. HTML 4.01 Spec3ification, 24. Character entity references in HTML 4. [1]
  4. Nelkon, Michael (1977). Fundamentals of Physics. St. Albans, Hertfordshire: Hart-Davis Educational. p. 329.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Encyclopedia Astronautica: Lambda". Retrieved 2012-12-18.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Wankat Separation Process Engineering 2nd ed, Prentice Hall
  7. Unicode Ancient Greek Numbers block.
  8. Thesaurus Linguae Graecae.
  9. "Lambda Expressions (C# Programming Guide)". Retrieved 2011-10-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Read, David (July 15, 2010). "Earth Symbol". Propworx. Retrieved 2010-10-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Official Stargate Website". Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Retrieved 2010-10-13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Imperial Lambda-class shuttle". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2010-10-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Ʌ". Retrieved 2011-10-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>