Last updated: December 27, 2011

What Does Scalar Mean?

A scalar variable, or scalar field, is a variable that holds one value at a time. It is a single component that assumes a range of number or string values. A scalar value is associated with every point in a space.

In computing, the term scalar is derived from the scalar processor, which processes one data item at a time.


Techopedia Explains Scalar

In C programming languages, scalar data types (such as char, int and float) are commonly used. However, scalar data types also may be scalar variables - basic variables used in practical extraction and report language. They are either strings that include symbols and letters, or numbers with exponents, integers and decimal values.

Scalar is also a common concept in mathematics and physics. In mathematics, scalars are used as vector components, as well as in modules and normed vector spaces. In physics, a scalar function gives a single variable value for all points in space and measures temperature, charge variations, etc. It is a physical quantity that is not changed by the rotations and translations of coordinate systems. Scalar field data is visualized as a set of discrete sampled values.


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