6.7.5 Scratch Variables

Most of the time, variables don’t retain their values between cases. Instead, either they’re being read from a data file or the active dataset, in which case they assume the value read, or, if created with COMPUTE or another transformation, they’re initialized to the system-missing value or to blanks, depending on type.

However, sometimes it’s useful to have a variable that keeps its value between cases. You can do this with LEAVE (see LEAVE), or you can use a scratch variable. Scratch variables are variables whose names begin with an octothorpe (‘#’).

Scratch variables have the same properties as variables left with LEAVE: they retain their values between cases, and for the first case they are initialized to 0 or blanks. They have the additional property that they are deleted before the execution of any procedure. For this reason, scratch variables can’t be used for analysis. To use a scratch variable in an analysis, use COMPUTE (see COMPUTE) to copy its value into an ordinary variable, then use that ordinary variable in the analysis.