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[skey-ler] /ˈskeɪ lər/
representable by position on a scale or line; having only magnitude:
a scalar variable.
of, relating to, or utilizing a scalar.
ladderlike in arrangement or organization; graduated:
a scalar structure for promoting personnel.
Mathematics, Physics. a quantity possessing only magnitude.
Compare vector (def 1a).
Origin of scalar
1650-60; < Latin scālāris of a ladder. See scale3, -ar1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for scalar


a quantity, such as time or temperature, that has magnitude but not direction Compare vector (sense 1), tensor (sense 2), pseudoscalar, pseudovector
(maths) an element of a field associated with a vector space
having magnitude but not direction
Word Origin
C17 (meaning: resembling a ladder): from Latin scālāris, from scāla ladder
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scalar

"resembling a ladder," 1650s, from Latin scalaris "of or pertaining to a ladder," from scalae (plural) "ladder, steps, flight of steps" (see scale (n.2)). Mathematical sense first recorded 1846.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scalar in Science
A quantity, such as mass, length, or speed, whose only property is magnitude; a number. Compare vector.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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scalar in Technology

1. A single number, as opposed to a vector or matrix of numbers. Thus, for example, "scalar multiplication" refers to the operation of multiplying one number (one scalar) by another and is used to contrast this with "matrix multiplication" etc.
2. In a parallel processor or vector processor, the "scalar processor" handles all the sequential operations - those which cannot be parallelised or vectorised.
See also superscalar.
3. Any data type that stores a single value (e.g. a number or Boolean), as opposed to an aggregate data type that has many elements. A string is regarded as a scalar in some languages (e.g. Perl) and a vector of characters in others (e.g. C).

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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