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Kappa (Κ, κ) Definition

Kappa (Κ, κ) is the 10th letter of the Greek alphabet, used to represent the [k] sound in Ancient and Modern Greek. In the system of Greek numerals, Kʹ has a value of 20. It was derived from the Phoenician letter kaph. Letters that arose from kappa include the Roman K and Cyrillic К.

Greek proper names and placenames containing kappa are often written in English with c due to the Romans' transliterations into the Latin alphabet: Constantinople, Corinth, Crete. All formal modern romanizations of Greek now use the letter k, however. The cursive form ϰ is generally a simple font variant of lower-case kappa, but it is encoded separately in Unicode for occasions where it is used as a separate symbol in math and science. In mathematics, the kappa curve is named after this letter; the tangents of this curve were first calculated by Isaac Barrow in the 17th century.

Usage in Mathematics & Science

The uppercase Kappa (Κ) is used for:

  • History:

    • In textual criticism, the Byzantine text-type (from Κοινη, Koine, the common text).

  • Mathematics & Statistics:

    • In set theory, kappa is often used to denote an ordinal that is also a cardinal.

  • Chemistry:

    • In chemistry, kappa is used to denote the denticity of the compound.

    • In pulping, the kappa number represents the amount of an oxidizing agent required for bleaching a pulp.

The lowercase Kappa (κ) is used for:

  • Mathematics & Statistics:

    • In graph theory, the connectivity of a graph is given by κ.

    • In differential geometry, the curvature of a curve is given by κ.

    • Kappa statistics such as Cohen's kappa and Fleiss' kappa are methods for calculating inter-rater reliability.

  • Physics:

    • In cosmology, the curvature of the universe is described by κ.

    • In physics, the torsional constant of an oscillator is given by κ as well as Einstein's constant of gravitation.

    • In physics, the coupling coefficient in magnetostatics is represented by κ.

    • In fluid dynamics, the von Kármán constant is represented by κ.

    • In thermodynamics, the compressibility of a compound is given by κ.

  • Engineering:

    • In structural engineering, κ is the ratio of the smaller factored moment to the larger factored moment and is used to calculate the critical elastic moment of an unbraced steel member.

    • In electrical engineering, κ is the multiplication factor, a function of the R/X ratio of the equivalent power system network, which is used in calculating the peak short-circuit current of a system fault. κ is also used to notate conductivity, the reciprocal of resistivity, rho.

  • Biology & Biomedical Science:

    • In biology, kappa and kappa prime are important nucleotide motifs for a tertiary interaction of group II introns.

    • In biology, kappa designates a subtype of an antibody component.

    • In pharmacology, kappa represents a type of opioid receptor.

  • Psychology & Psychiatry:

    • In psychology and psychiatry, kappa represents a measure of diagnostic reliability.

  • Economics:

    • In macroeconomics, kappa represents the capital-utilization rate.

Greek Alphabet

The letters of the Ancient Greek Alphabet, which are frequently utilized in math and science:

Greek Alphabet

Symbol

Letter

Symbol

Letter

Uppercase

Lowercase

Uppercase

Lowercase

Α

α

Alpha

Ν

ν

Nu

Β

β

Beta

Ξ

ξ

Xi

Γ

γ

Gamma

Ο

ο

Omicron

Δ

δ

Delta

Π

π

Pi

Ε

ε

Epsilon

Ρ

ρ

Rho

Ζ

ζ

Zeta

Σ

σ

Sigma

Η

η

Eta

Τ

τ

Tau

Θ

θ

Theta

Υ

υ

Upsilon

Ι

ι

Iota

Φ

φ

Phi

Κ

κ

Kappa

Χ

χ

Chi

Λ

λ

Lambda

Ψ

ψ

Psi

Μ

μ

Mu

Ω

ω

Omega

Related Definitions

Sources

“Kappa.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Apr. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kappa.

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