I can't get my installation of latex to use \beth without using the amssymb package.


This compiles. If I remove the % from the penultimate line, it doesn't know what that command is.

However, various sources seem to imply that \beth is a valid latex math command, such as https://wikieducator.org/Help:LaTeX_Symbol_Tables_-_Mathematics . None of them make mention of needing amssymb, and indeed, they list it right after `\aleph' which does not require the package.

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    Perhaps this can help: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/170476/… Dec 23, 2016 at 14:37
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    You need \usepackage{amssymb}
    – egreg
    Dec 23, 2016 at 14:40
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    Page 45 of the LaTeX User Guide (L. Lamport) provides \aleph, but not \beth, that is why. Dec 23, 2016 at 14:43
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    My guess is that the main reason for why \aleph is included in virtually all "basic" sets of TeX and LaTeX math symbols, whereas \beth, \gimel etc are not, is an historical accident, viz., Cantor's use of \aleph in$\aleph_0$ etc. This usage more or less guaranteed that there would be a relative high typographic need for \aleph, both before and after the advent of computer-based typesetting. If Cantor or any other widely-cited mathematician had used \beth, \gimel etc with any kind of frequency, these symbols would probably be included in the "basic" symbol sets as well...
    – Mico
    Dec 23, 2016 at 14:58
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    the reason \aleph is included among the basic symbols is that knuth required it for "the art of computer programming". presumably the need for \beth and other hebrew letters was not there through at least the first three volumes of that series. Dec 23, 2016 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


Fortunately, there are easy-to-access references for which symbols are defined where, especially if you know the command name. Typing

texdoc comprehensive

at a command prompt will give you the Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List. Searching it for \beth will show you that this character is part of the AMS Hebrew font, the MnSymbol font, the fdsymbol font, the boisik Hebrew letters, Stix Hebrew letters, and so forth.

It also gives you a link to the amsfonts package page, so you know what to include. It also mentions that \aleph is a basic LaTeX command, by linking to a table of LaTeX2e math symbols.

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