scalar

scalar

[skey-ler]
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]

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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
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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.