scalar

[skey-ler]
adjective
1.
representable by position on a scale or line; having only magnitude: a scalar variable.
2.
of, pertaining to, or utilizing a scalar.
3.
ladderlike in arrangement or organization; graduated: a scalar structure for promoting personnel.
noun
4.
Mathematics, Physics. a quantity possessing only magnitude. Compare vector ( def 1a ).

Origin:
1650–60; < Latin scālāris of a ladder. See scale3, -ar1

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World English Dictionary
scalar (ˈskeɪlə)
 
n
1.  vector tensor pseudoscalar Compare pseudovector a quantity, such as time or temperature, that has magnitude but not direction
2.  maths an element of a field associated with a vector space
 
adj
3.  having magnitude but not direction
 
[C17 (meaning: resembling a ladder): from Latin scālāris, from scāla ladder]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

scalar
"resembling a ladder," 1656, from L. scalaris "of or pertaining to a ladder," from scalæ (pl.) "ladder, steps" (see scale (n.2)). Mathematical sense first recorded 1846.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
scalar   (skā'lər)  Pronunciation Key 
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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FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

scalar definition


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).
(2002-06-12)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
Dialing down the scalar field to zero everywhere would essentially flatten the universe.
Similar to temperature, which is the scalar level of activity, time is the sequencing of change wrought by motion.
On the other hand, tensor is the generalization of scalar and vector.
Even thermodynamics is a vector of a scalar activity.
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