Beta (UK /biːt/ or US /beɪt/; uppercase , lowercase β, or cursive ϐ; Ancient Greek: βα bta or Modern Greek: βήα víta) is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 2. In Ancient Greek, beta represented the voiced bilabial plosive /b/. In Modern Greek, it represents the voiced labiodental fricative /v/. Letters that arose from beta include the Roman letter B and the Cyrillic letters and .
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 βα bêta, pronounced [bːta] in Ancient Greek. It is spelled βήα in modern monotonic orthography, and pronounced [vita]. In US English, the name is pronounced /beɪt/, while in British English it is pronounced /biːt/. Beta in Hindi and Urdu means elder royal son (sometimes also called Beta Ji).
The letter beta was derived from the Phoenician letter beth .
The letter had the largest number of highly divergent local forms. Besides the standard form (either rounded or pointed, ), there were forms as varied as (Gortyn), and (Thera), (Argos), (Melos), (Corinth), (Megara, Byzantium), (Cyclades).
In the system of Greek numerals, beta has a value of 2. Such use is denoted by a number mark: . In Scientific unit notation it is used as a particle and pronounced as a /bIta/
In computing, the term "beta" is used as (usually) the last testing release (or the preview release) in the software release life cycle before the "release" version. Beta versions often have a version number of the form "0.n", (or "build number"). Typically it is the last version before a version of a software is fully released to all its actual customers.
Beta is used in finance as a measure of investment portfolio risk. Beta in this context is calculated as the covariance of the portfolio's returns with its benchmark's returns, divided by the variance of the benchmark's returns. A beta of 1.5 means that for every 1% change in the value of the benchmark, the portfolio's value changes by 1.5%.
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.
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.
β is sometimes used as a placeholder for an ordinal number if α is already used.
In spaceflight, beta angle describes the angle between the orbit plane of a spacecraft or other body and the vector from the sun.
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 for ancient Greek: βίβλο is printed βίϐλο.
In typesetting technical literature, it is a commonly made mistake to use the German letter (a s-z or s-s ligature) as a replacement for β. The two letters resemble each other in some fonts, but they are unrelated.
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).
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.