A variable is somewhere between a storage register on a conventional
calculator, and a variable in a programming language. (In fact, a Calc
variable is really just an Emacs Lisp variable that contains a Calc number
or formula.) A variable’s name is normally composed of letters and digits.
Calc also allows apostrophes and
# signs in variable names.
(The Calc variable
foo corresponds to the Emacs Lisp variable
var-foo, but unless you access the variable from within Emacs
Lisp, you don’t need to worry about it. Variable names in algebraic
formulas implicitly have ‘var-’ prefixed to their names. The
‘#’ character in variable names used in algebraic formulas
corresponds to a dash ‘-’ in the Lisp variable name. If the name
contains any dashes, the prefix ‘var-’ is not automatically
added. Thus the two formulas ‘foo + 1’ and ‘var#foo + 1’ both
refer to the same variable.)
In a command that takes a variable name, you can either type the full
name of a variable, or type a single digit to use one of the special
q9. For example,
3 s s 2 stores the number 3 in variable
3 s s foo RET stores that number in variable
To push a variable itself (as opposed to the variable’s value) on the stack, enter its name as an algebraic expression using the apostrophe (') key.
The = (
calc-evaluate) key “evaluates” a formula by
replacing all variables in the formula which have been given values by a
calc-let command by their stored values.
Other variables are left alone. Thus a variable that has not been
stored acts like an abstract variable in algebra; a variable that has
been stored acts more like a register in a traditional calculator.
With a positive numeric prefix argument, = evaluates the top
n stack entries; with a negative argument, = evaluates
the nth stack entry.
A few variables are called special constants. Their names are
‘e’, ‘pi’, ‘i’, ‘phi’, and ‘gamma’.
(See Scientific Functions.) When they are evaluated with =,
their values are calculated if necessary according to the current precision
or complex polar mode. If you wish to use these symbols for other purposes,
simply undefine or redefine them using
The variables ‘inf’, ‘uinf’, and ‘nan’ stand for infinite or indeterminate values. It’s best not to use them as regular variables, since Calc uses special algebraic rules when it manipulates them. Calc displays a warning message if you store a value into any of these special variables.
See Store and Recall, for a discussion of commands dealing with variables.