<  

Lessthan sign  
In Unicode  U+003C < LESSTHAN SIGN (<, <) 
Different from  
Different from  U+2329 〈 LEFTPOINTING ANGLE BRACKET 
Related  
See also  U+003E > GREATERTHAN SIGN U+2264 ≤ LESSTHAN OR EQUAL TO U+2A7D ⩽ LESSTHAN OR SLANTED EQUAL TO used e.g. in Poland U+226A ≪ MUCH LESSTHAN 
The lessthan sign is a mathematical symbol that denotes an inequality between two values. The widely adopted form of two equallength strokes connecting in an acute angle at the left, <, has been found in documents dated as far back as the 1560s. In mathematical writing, the lessthan sign is typically placed between two values being compared and signifies that the first number is less than the second number. Examples of typical usage include 1⁄2 < 1 and −2 < 0.
Since the development of computer programming languages, the lessthan sign and the greaterthan sign have been repurposed for a range of uses and operations.
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Transcription
Computing
The lessthan sign, <, is an original ASCII character (hex 3C, decimal 60).
Programming
In BASIC, Lispfamily languages, and Cfamily languages (including Java and C++), comparison operator <
means "less than".
In Coldfusion, operator .lt.
means "less than".
In Fortran, operator .LT.
means "less than"; later versions allow <
.
Shell scripts
In Bourne shell (and many other shells), operator lt
means "less than". Lessthan sign is used to redirect input from a file. Lessthan plus ampersand (<&
) is used to redirect from a file descriptor.
Double lessthan sign
The double lessthan sign, <<, may be used for an approximation of the muchlessthan sign (≪) or of the opening guillemet («). ASCII does not encode either of these signs, though they are both included in Unicode.
In Bash, Perl, and Ruby, operator <<EOF
(where "EOF" is an arbitrary string, but commonly "EOF" denoting "end of file") is used to denote the beginning of a here document.
In C and C++, operator <<
represents a binary left shift.
In the C++ Standard Library, operator <<
, when applied on an output stream, acts as insertion operator and performs an output operation on the stream.
In Ruby, operator <<
acts as append operator when used between an array and the value to be appended.
In XPath the <<
operator returns true if the left operand precedes the right operand in document order; otherwise it returns false.^{[1]}
Triple lessthan sign
In PHP, operator <<<OUTPUT
is used to denote the beginning of a heredoc statement (where OUTPUT
is an arbitrary named variable.)
In Bash, <<<word
is used as a "here string", where word
is expanded and supplied to the command on its standard input, similar to a heredoc.
Lessthan sign with equals sign
The lessthan sign with the equals sign, <=
, may be used for an approximation of the lessthanorequalto sign, ≤. ASCII does not have a lessthanorequalto sign, but Unicode defines it at code point U+2264.
In BASIC, Lispfamily languages, and Cfamily languages (including Java and C++), operator <=
means "less than or equal to". In Sinclair BASIC it is encoded as a singlebyte code point token.
In Prolog, =<
means "less than or equal to" (as distinct from the arrow <=
).
In Fortran, operators .LE.
and <=
both mean "less than or equal to".
In Bourne shell and Windows PowerShell, the operator le
means "less than or equal to".
Lessthan sign with hyphenminus
In the R programming language, the lessthan sign is used in conjunction with a hyphenminus to create an arrow (<
), this can be used as the left assignment operator.
Spaceship operator
Lessthan sign is used in the spaceship operator.
HTML
In HTML (and SGML and XML), the lessthan sign is used at the beginning of tags. The lessthan sign may be included with <
. The lessthanorequalto sign, ≤, may be included with ≤
.
Unicode
Unicode provides various Less Than Symbol:^{[2]}
Symbol  Name  Code Point 

⍃  Apl Functional Symbol Quad Less Than  U+2343 
⧀  Circled Less Than  U+29C0 
⦖  Double Right Arc Less Than Bracket  U+2996 
＜  Fullwidth less than  U+FF1C 
⋜  Equal To Or Less Than  U+22DC 
⦓  Left Arc Less Than Bracket  U+2993 
⥷  Leftwards Arrow Through Less Than  U+2977 
⥶  Less Than Above Leftwards Arrow  U+2976 
≨  Less Than But Not Equal To  U+2268 
⋦  Less Than But Not Equivalent To  U+22E6 
≤  Less Than Or Equal To  U+2264 
≲  Less Than Or Equivalent To  U+2272 
≦  Less Than Over Equal To  U+2266 
<  Less Than Sign  U+003C 
⩹  Less Than With Circle Inside  U+2A79 
⋖  Less Than With Dot  U+22D6 
≪  Much Less Than  U+226A 
≰  Neither Less Than Nor Equal To  U+2270 
≴  Neither Less Than Nor Equivalent To  U+2274 
≮  Not Less Than  U+226E 
﹤  Small Less Than Sign  U+FE64 
⋘  Very Much Less Than  U+22D8 
The lessthan sign may be seen for an approximation of the opening angle bracket, ⟨. True angle bracket characters, as required in linguistics notation, are expected in formal texts.
Mathematics
In an inequality, the lessthan sign and greaterthan sign always "point" to the smaller number. Put another way, the "jaws" (the wider section of the symbol) always direct to the larger number.
The lessthansign is sometimes used to represent a total order, partial order or preorder. However, the symbol is often used when it would be confusing or not convenient to use <. In mathematical writing using LaTeX, the TeX command is \prec
. The Unicode code point is U+227A ≺ PRECEDES.
See also
References
 ^ "XML Path Language (XPath) 2.0 (Second Edition)". www.w3.org. W3C. 14 December 2010. Archived from the original on 7 October 2022. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
 ^ "Less than symbol". Archived from the original on 20230516. Retrieved 20230606.