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4 (four; /ˈfɔər/) is a number, numeral, and glyph. It is the natural number following 3 and preceding 5.

← 3 4 5 →
-1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Cardinal four
Ordinal 4th
Numeral system quaternary
Factorization 22
Divisors 1, 2, 4
Greek numeral Δ´
Roman numeral IV
Roman numeral (unicode) Ⅳ, ⅳ
Greek prefix tetra-
Latin prefix quadri-/quadr-
Binary 1002
Ternary 113
Quaternary 104
Quinary 45
Senary 46
Octal 48
Duodecimal 412
Hexadecimal 416
Vigesimal 420
Base 36 436
Greek δ (or Δ)
Arabic, Saraiki & Kurdish ٤
Persian ۴
Urdu ۴
Chinese numeral 四,亖,肆
Korean 넷,사
Hebrew ד


In mathematicsEdit

Four is the smallest composite number, its proper divisors being 1 and 2.

4 is the smallest squared prime (p2) and the only even number in this form.

A number is a multiple of 4 if its last two digits are a multiple of 4. For example, 1092 is a multiple of 4 because 92 = 4 × 23.

In addition, 2 + 2 = 2 × 2 = 22 = 4. Continuing the pattern in Knuth's up-arrow notation, 2 ↑↑ 2 = 2 ↑↑↑ 2 = 4, and so on, for any number of up arrows. (That is, 2 [n] 2 = 4 for every positive integer n, where a [n] b is the hyperoperation.)

A four-sided plane figure is a quadrilateral (quadrangle) which include kites, rhombi, rectangles and squares, sometimes also called a tetragon. A circle divided by 4 makes right angles and four quadrants. Because of it, four (4) is the base number of the plane (mathematics). Four cardinal directions, four seasons, the duodecimal system, and the vigesimal system are based on four.

A solid figure with four faces as well as four vertices is a tetrahedron, and 4 is the smallest possible number of faces (as well as vertices) of a polyhedron. The regular tetrahedron is the simplest Platonic solid. A tetrahedron, which can also be called a 3-simplex, has four triangular faces and four vertices. It is the only self-dual regular polyhedron.

Four-dimensional space is the highest-dimensional space featuring more than three convex regular figures:

Four-dimensional differential manifolds have some unique properties. There is only one differential structure on ℝn except when n = 4, in which case there are uncountably many.

The smallest non-cyclic group has four elements; it is the Klein four-group. Four is also the order of the smallest non-trivial groups that are not simple.

Four is the only integer n for which the (non trivial) alternating group An is not simple.

Four is the maximum number of dimensions of a real associative division algebra (the quaternions), by a theorem of Ferdinand Georg Frobenius.

The four-color theorem states that a planar graph (or, equivalently, a flat map of two-dimensional regions such as countries) can be colored using four colors, so that adjacent vertices (or regions) are always different colors.[1] Three colors are not, in general, sufficient to guarantee this. The largest planar complete graph has four vertices.

Lagrange's four-square theorem states that every positive integer can be written as the sum of at most four square numbers. Three are not always sufficient; 7 for instance cannot be written as the sum of three squares.

Each natural number divisible by 4 is a difference of squares of two natural numbers, i.e. 4x = y2z2.

Four is the highest degree general polynomial equation for which there is a solution in radicals.

List of basic calculationsEdit

Multiplication 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 50 100 1000
4 × x 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 44 48 52 56 60 64 68 72 76 80 84 88 92 96 100 200 400 4000
Division 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
4 ÷ x 4 2 1.3 1 0.8 0.6 0.571428 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.36 0.3 0.307692 0.285714 0.26 0.25
x ÷ 4 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 1.25 1.5 1.75 2 2.25 2.5 2.75 3 3.25 3.5 3.75 4
Exponentiation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
4x 4 16 64 256 1024 4096 16384 65536 262144 1048576 4194304 16777216 67108864
x4 1 16 81 256 625 1296 2401 4096 6561 10000 14641 20736 28561

Evolution of the glyphEdit

Representing 1, 2 and 3 in as many lines as the number represented worked well.[citation needed] The Brahmin Indians simplified 4 by joining its four lines into a cross that looks like the modern plus sign. The Shunga would add a horizontal line on top of the numeral, and the Kshatrapa and Pallava evolved the numeral to a point where the speed of writing was a secondary concern. The Arabs' 4 still had the early concept of the cross, but for the sake of efficiency, was made in one stroke by connecting the "western" end to the "northern" end; the "eastern" end was finished off with a curve. The Europeans dropped the finishing curve and gradually made the numeral less cursive, ending up with a glyph very close to the original Brahmin cross.[2]

While the shape of the 4 character has an ascender in most modern typefaces, in typefaces with text figures the character usually has a descender, as, for example, in  .

On the seven-segment displays of pocket calculators and digital watches, as well as certain optical character recognition fonts, 4 is seen with an open top.

Television stations that operate on channel 4 have occasionally made use of another variation of the "open 4", with the open portion being on the side, rather than the top. This version resembles the Canadian Aboriginal syllabics letter ᔦ. The magnetic ink character recognition "CMC-7" font also uses this variety of "4".

In religionEdit


Judeo-Christian symbolismEdit



  • Eid al-Adha lasts for four days, from the 10th to the 14th of Dhul Hijja.
  • There are four Rashidun or Rightly Guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib.
  • The Four Arch Angels in Islam are: Jibraeel (Gabriel), Mikaeel (Michael), Izraeel (Azrael), and Israfil (Raphael)
  • There are four Sacred Months in Islam: Muharram, Rajab, Dhu al-Qi'dah and Dhu al-Hijjah.
  • There are four Sunni schools of fiqh: Hanafi, Shafi`i, Maliki and Hanbali.
  • There are four major Sunni Imams: Abū Ḥanīfa, Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi`i, Malik ibn Anas and Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
  • There are four books in Islam: Torah, Zaboor, Injeel, Quran.
  • Waiting for four months is ordained for those who take an oath for abstention from their wives.
  • The waiting period of the woman whose husband dies, is four months and ten days.
  • When Abraham said: “My Lord, show me how You give life to the dead,” Allah said: “Why! Do you have no faith?” Abraham replied: “Yes, but in order that my heart be at rest.” He said: “Then take four birds, and tame them to yourself, then put a part of them on every hill, and summon them; they will come to you flying. [Al-Baqara 2:260]
  • The respite of four months was granted to give time to the mushriks in Surah At-Tawba so that they should consider their position carefully and decide whether to make preparation for war or to emigrate from the country or to accept Islam.
  • Those who accuse honorable women (of unchastity) but do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes, and do not admit their testimony ever after. They are indeed transgressors. [An-Noor 24:4]



  • In a more general sense, numerous mythological and cosmogonical systems consider Four corners of the world as essentially corresponding to the four points of the compass.
  • Four is the sacred number of the Zia, an indigenous tribe located in the U.S. state of New Mexico.
  • The Chinese, Vietnamese, the Korean and the Japanese are superstitious about the number four because it is a homonym for "death" in their languages.

In politicsEdit

  • Four Freedoms: four fundamental freedoms that Franklin D. Roosevelt declared ought to be enjoyed by everyone in the world: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear.
  • Gang of Four: Popular name for four Chinese Communist Party leaders who rose to prominence during China's Cultural Revolution, but were ousted in 1976 following the death of Chairman Mao Zedong. Among the four was Mao's widow, Jiang Qing. Since then, many other political factions headed by four people have been called "Gangs of Four".

In computingEdit

In scienceEdit

  • A tetramer is a thing formed out of four sub-units.

In astronomyEdit

In biologyEdit

In chemistryEdit

  • Valency of carbon (that is basis of life on the Earth) is four. Also because of its tetrahedral crystal bond structure, diamond (one of the natural allotropes of carbon) is the hardest known naturally occurring material. It is also the valence of silicon, whose compounds form the majority of the mass of the Earth's crust.
  • The atomic number of beryllium
  • There are four basic states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.

In physicsEdit

In logic and philosophyEdit

  • The symbolic meanings of the number four are linked to those of the cross and the square. "Almost from prehistoric times, the number four was employed to signify what was solid, what could be touched and felt. Its relationship to the cross (four points) made it an outstanding symbol of wholeness and universality, a symbol which drew all to itself". Where lines of latitude and longitude intersect, they divide the earth into four proportions. Throughout the world kings and chieftains have been called "lord of the four suns"..."lord of the four quarters of the earth"...[3] by which is understood to the extent of their powers both territorially and in terms of total control of their subjects' doings.
  • The Square of Opposition, in both its Aristotelian version and its Boolean version, consists of four forms: A ("All S is R"), I ("Some S is R"), E ("No S is R"), and O ("Some S is not R").
  • In regard to whether two given propositions can have the same truth value, there are four separate logical possibilities: the propositions are subalterns (possibly both are true, and possibly both are false); subcontraries (it is possible that both are true, but not that both are false); contraries (it is possible that both are false, but not that both are true); or contradictories (it is not possible that both are true, and it is not possible that both are false).
  • Aristotle held that there are basically four causes in nature: the efficient cause, the matter, the end, and the form.
  • The Stoics held with four basic categories, all viewed as bodies (substantial and insubstantial): (1) substance in the sense of substrate, primary formless matter; (2) quality, matter's organization to differentiate and individualize something, and coming down to a physical ingredient such as pneuma, breath; (3) somehow holding (or disposed), as in a posture, state, shape, size, action, and (4) somehow holding (or disposed) toward something, as in relative location, familial relation, and so forth.
  • Immanuel Kant expounded a table of judgments involving four three-way alternatives, in regard to (1) Quantity, (2) Quality, (3) Relation, (4) Modality, and, based thereupon, a table of four categories, named by the terms just listed, and each with three subcategories.
  • Arthur Schopenhauer's doctoral thesis was On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
  • Franz Brentano held that any major philosophical period has four phases: (1) Creative and rapidly progressing with scientific interest and results; then declining through the remaining phases, (2) practical, (3) increasingly skeptical, and (4) literary, mystical, and scientifically worthless—until philosophy is renewed through a new period's first phase. (See Brentano's essay "The Four Phases of Philosophy and Its Current State" 1895, tr. by Mezei and Smith 1998.)
  • C. S. Peirce, usually a trichotomist, discussed four methods for overcoming troublesome uncertainties and achieving secure beliefs: (1) the method of tenacity (policy of sticking to initial belief), (2) the method of authority, (3) the method of congruity (following a fashionable paradigm), and (4) the fallibilistic, self-correcting method of science (see "The Fixation of Belief", 1877); and four barriers to inquiry, barriers refused by the fallibilist: (1) assertion of absolute certainty; (2) maintaining that something is absolutely unknowable; (3) maintaining that something is absolutely inexplicable because absolutely basic or ultimate; (4) holding that perfect exactitude is possible, especially such as to quite preclude unusual and anomalous phenomena (see "F.R.L." [First Rule of Logic], 1899).
  • Paul Weiss built a system involving four modes of being: Actualities (substances in the sense of substantial, spatio-temporally finite beings), Ideality or Possibility (pure normative form), Existence (the dynamic field), and God (unity). (See Weiss's Modes of Being, 1958).
  • Karl Popper outlined a tetradic schema to describe the growth of theories and, via generalization, also the emergence of new behaviors and living organisms: (1) problem, (2) tentative theory, (3) (attempted) error-elimination (especially by way of critical discussion), and (4) new problem(s). (See Popper's Objective Knowledge, 1972, revised 1979.)
  • John Boyd (military strategist) made his key concept the decision cycle or OODA loop, consisting of four stages: (1) observation (data intake through the senses), (2) orientation (analysis and synthesis of data), (3) decision, and (4) action. Boyd held that his decision cycle has philosophical generality, though for strategists the point remains that, through swift decisions, one can disrupt an opponent's decision cycle.
  • Richard McKeon outlined four classes (each with four subclasses) of modes of philosophical inquiry: (1) Modes of Being (Being); (2) Modes of Thought (That which is); (3) Modes of Fact (Existence); (4) Modes of Simplicity (Experience)—and, corresponding to them, four classes (each with four subclasses) of philosophical semantics: Principles, Methods, Interpretations, and Selections. (See McKeon's "Philosophic Semantics and Philosophic Inquiry" in Freedom and History and Other Essays, 1989.)
  • Jonathan Lowe (E.J. Lowe) argues in The Four-Category Ontology, 2006, for four categories: kinds (substantial universals), attributes (relational universals and property-universals), objects (substantial particulars), and modes (relational particulars and property-particulars, also known as "tropes"). (See Lowe's "Recent Advances in Metaphysics," 2001, Eprint)
  • Four opposed camps of the morality and nature of evil: moral absolutism, amoralism, moral relativism, and moral universalism.

In technologyEdit

In transportEdit

In sportsEdit

  • In baseball:
    • There are four bases in the game: first base, second base, third base, and home plate; to score a run, an offensive player must complete, in the sequence shown, a circuit of those four bases.
    • For scoring, number 4 is assigned to the second baseman.
    • Four is the most number of runs that can be scored on any single at bat, whereby all three baserunners and the batter score (the most common being via a grand slam).
  • In basketball, the number four is used to designate the Power Forward position, often referred to as "The four spot".
  • In cricket, a four is a specific type of scoring event, whereby the ball crosses the boundary after touching the ground at least one time, scoring four runs. Taking four wickets in four consecutive balls is typically referred to as a double hat trick (two consecutive, overlapping hat tricks).
  • In rowing, a four refers to a boat for four rowers, with or without coxswain. In rowing nomenclature, 4− represents a coxless four and 4+ represents a coxed four.
  • In rugby union, one of the two starting locks wears the jersey number 4.

In other fieldsEdit

In musicEdit

Groups of fourEdit


  1. ^ Bryan Bunch, The Kingdom of Infinite Number. New York: W. H. Freeman & Company (2000): 48
  2. ^ Georges Ifrah, The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer transl. David Bellos et al. London: The Harvill Press (1998): 394, Fig. 24.64
  3. ^ Chevalier, Jean and Gheerbrant, Alain (1994), The Dictionary of Symbols. The quote beginning "Almost from prehistoric times..." is on p. 402.

External linksEdit