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Initially, The Circles were a row of three green dots and one red dot. Throughout the course of the series, the definition has been expanded to include anything that blatantly displays green-green-green-red patterning. A specific recurring theme has not been associated with the color pattern, but the frequent use of the color pattern is conspicuous in nature.
In the The Equation, the same green, green, green, red pattern is represented in blinking lights, putting the subject watching them in a hypnagogic state. In this condition, they can respond to commands but have no knowledge of said actions or the passing of time. This continues until they are "awakened" with a simple touch.
In Morse Code the sequence of three dots followed by a dash represents the letter "V."