# LeoGlossary: Alpha

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The Greek letter alpha (α) is the first letter of the Greek alphabet. It is used in mathematics, physics, engineering, and other fields to represent various concepts and variables.

In mathematics, alpha is often used as a variable or a coefficient in equations. For example, in statistics, alpha is used to represent the level of significance in hypothesis testing.

In physics, alpha is used to represent various physical quantities, such as:

• Alpha particles: These are positively charged particles emitted by radioactive substances, consisting of two protons and two neutrons.
• Fine structure constant: This is a dimensionless constant that characterizes the strength of the electromagnetic force between charged particles.
• Thermal diffusivity: This is a measure of the ability of a material to conduct heat relative to its ability to store heat.

In engineering, alpha is used to represent various quantities, such as:

• Angle of attack: This is the angle between the direction of motion of an aircraft and the direction of the airflow relative to the aircraft.
• Attenuation coefficient: This is a measure of the reduction in the amplitude or intensity of a wave as it propagates through a medium.
• Heat transfer coefficient: This is a measure of the rate of heat transfer between a solid surface and a fluid.

## finance

In finance, alpha is a measure of the excess return of an investment relative to a benchmark or a risk-free rate. It represents the active return generated by a portfolio manager or a trading strategy, over and above the return that could have been achieved by simply investing in a passive index or a risk-free asset.

Alpha is typically expressed as a percentage or a decimal value, and it is calculated by taking the difference between the actual return of a portfolio or a security and its expected return, based on a benchmark or a risk model.

For example, if a portfolio manager generates a return of 12% in a year, while the benchmark return is 10%, the alpha of the portfolio is 2%. This means that the portfolio manager has generated an excess return of 2% above the benchmark, due to their active management or trading strategy.

Alpha is an important concept in finance, as it represents the value added by an active investment manager or a trading strategy, over and above the market return. It is often used as a key performance indicator (KPI) for portfolio managers and investment firms, as it reflects their ability to generate alpha through active management, research, and analysis.

However, it is important to note that generating alpha is not easy, as it requires a deep understanding of financial markets, economic trends, and investment strategies. Moreover, alpha is often subject to various risks, such as market risk, liquidity risk, and operational risk, which can affect the performance of a portfolio or a trading strategy.

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