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.


Related Terms

Latest Data Management Terms

Related Reading

Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…