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Beta (letter)

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Beta (letter)

"β" redirects here. For the German eszett, see ß. For other uses, see Beta (disambiguation).

Beta (UK /ˈbtə/ or US /ˈbtə/; uppercase Β, lowercase β; Greek: Βήτα Bḗta) is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. In Ancient Greek, beta represented the voiced bilabial plosive /b/. In Modern Greek, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative /v/.

The letter beta was derived from the В⟩.

In the system of Greek numerals, beta has a value of 2.


Like the names of most other Greek letters, the name of beta was adopted from the acrophonic name of the corresponding letter in Phoenician, which was the common Semitic word *bayt ('house'). In Greek, the name was βῆτα bêta, pronounced [bɛ̂ːta] in Ancient Greek. It is spelled βήτα in the modern monotonic orthography, and pronounced [ˈvita]. In US English, the name is pronounced /ˈbeɪtə/, while in British English it is pronounced /ˈbiːtə/.



In computing, the term "beta" is used as (usually) the last release in the software release life cycle. It is sometimes referred to as 0.x in version numbers or x.x by where x represents a number.


Beta is used in finance as a measure of investment portfolio risk.

International Phonetic Alphabet

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, Greek minuscule beta denotes a voiced bilabial fricative [β].


The name Beta was used as a name during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season as Hurricane Beta.

Mathematics and science

Beta is often used to denote a variable in mathematics and physics, where it often has specific meanings for certain applications, such as representing beta radiation. In regression analysis, ⟨B⟩ symbolizes nonstandardized partial slope coefficients, whereas ⟨β⟩ represents standardized (standard deviation-score form) coefficients; in both cases, the coefficients reflect the change in the criterion Y per one-unit change in the value of the associated predictor X.

Rock climbing terminology

The term "beta" refers to advice on how to successfully complete a particular climbing route, boulder problem, or crux sequence.


In statistics, beta may represent type II error, or regression slope.


In some high-quality typesetting, especially in the French tradition, a typographic variant of the lowercase letter without a descender is used within a word: βίβλος is printed βίϐλος.[1]

In typesetting technical literature, it is a commonly made mistake to use the German letter ß (a double-s ligature) as a replacement for β. The two letters resemble each other in some fonts, but they are unrelated.

Videotape format

Beta was the name of a domestic videotape format developed by Japan's Sony Corporation in the 1970s and 1980s. It competed with the Video Home System (VHS) format developed by the Japanese Victor Company, to which it eventually succumbed. The Beta format was also marketed as Betamax (Sony) and Betacord (Sanyo).

Character encodings

  • Greek Beta

  • CJK Square Beta

  • Mathematical Beta

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.


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