Talk:Scientific notation

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One of the 500 most frequently viewed mathematics articles.

Standard index notation[edit]

The name I've always been taught is something like 'standard index notation'.

If you don't remember what it was then the teaching must have been rather ineffective. Are you sure it wasn't "index standard anecdotal notation"?

'Scientific notation' seems a bit vague - aren't there many other scientific notations?

It is a fairly commonly understood phrase. Yes there are many other scientific notations, but are there any that could be referred to without qualification? – Smyth 15:34, 9 Oct 2004 (UTC)

suggested paragraph[edit]

Should the following paragraph (or parts of) from Floating point be put on this page?

In other words, we could represent a number a by two numbers m and e, such that a = m × be. In any such system we pick a base b (called the base of numeration, also radix) and a precision p (how many digits to store). m (which is called the mantissa, also significand) is a p digit number of the form +-d.ddd...ddd (each digit being an integer between 0 and b-1 inclusive). If the leading digit of m is non-zero then the number is said to be normalised.

breaking quantities[edit]

If we follow a convention of writing 1.2E31 instead we can avoid the problem of having a break in the quanity...1.2 x

1031 Pizza Puzzle

You can force quantities to break as one word with the "non-breaking space" ( ): 1.2 × 1031. Besides, 1.2E31 is very ugly "calculator notation". I nearly cried when I saw someone use it on his math test paper. – Boudewijn 1 July 2005 12:12 (UTC)
1.2E31 is incorrect, as stated on this page. Fresheneesz 04:13, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
Better still use {{val}} ... don't use E notation if you're writing for humans. JIMp talk·cont 07:55, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

Cleaning Up[edit]

What needs cleaning up about this article? Lochok 04:03, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

It's not as bad as when the request was orginally made, but there are still a proliferation of one sentence paragraphs and I usually find a couple typos or redundancies everytime I look at it. It is much better now. The label can probably go soon. Jmeppley 22:21, 14 November 2005 (UTC)

parenthesis notation[edit]

Should also explain parenthesis notation indicating error, e.g., "1.345(67)" .

102.33 2536 =2253.00


In Fortran, I recall that their exponential notation sometimes uses a 'd' instead of 'e'. For example, a number might be written as 1.234d-4 meaning the same thing as 1.234 * 10^-4 . I could have been incorrectly informed, but I think this would be a nice note on this page if someone can find a source for it (I looked quickly, but didn't find anything). Fresheneesz 04:10, 15 September 2006 (UTC)

From the Nastran 77 Standard (
4.5.1 Double Precision Exponent.
The form of a double precision exponent is the letter D followed by an optionally signed integer constant. A double precision exponent denotes a power of ten. Note that the form and interpretation of a double precision exponent are identical to those of a real exponent, except that the letter D is used instead of the letter E.
Nastran uses the letter D to denote double precision instead of the single precision (or float) data type. Thus, this is an artifact of Nastran syntax. Jebix

Normalised form[edit]

Re the 3rd paragraph - i believe it should read as follows:

  • In normalized form, b is chosen such that

rather than "a is chosen". Given a number we wish to represent in normalised form, the |a| value is determined (mod a power of 10) - there is nothing to choose. We choose b so that a has the desired magnitude, not the other way round.

I changed this yesterday, but it was reverted by with no comment. Before I put it back, would any one like to comment? JoeKearney 21:17, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Since there has been noting said here for ten days I've changed it back. Please discuss here if you think it's wrong rather than just re-editing it. JoeKearney 01:09, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Standard form?[edit]

I thought that was the entire number, ie-


instead of


DarkestMoonlight (talk) 16:15, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, you thought wrong, for example: - (talk) 15:49, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

In this same section, the exponents are not showing in my ie browser (but I don't know how to fix this on the page. can someone else? 5.72×10^9 shows up as 5.72×10 −6.1×10^−9 shows up as −6.1×10 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mjvais (talkcontribs) 15:24, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Isn't that backwards?[edit]

(Normalized) scientific notation is often called exponential notation...

AFAIK, "exponential notation" is generic, while "scientific notation" specifically refers to the one normalized so that the mantissa is in [1, 10), and "engineering notation" to the one normalized so that the mantissa is in [1, 1000) and the exponent is an integer multiple of three. Is that correct? --Army1987 (talk) 13:02, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

Link Deletion —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:36, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

pt:Discussão:Notação científica

programming languages[edit]

The list of programming languages seems idiosyncratic and/or obsolete. The top languages are: C C++ Java PHP Visual Basic Python

according to [1]

I would add excel to that list.

Ccrrccrr (talk) 14:06, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

The ones cited are those which many other later ones (including the ones that you cite) used as models for their notation, so are much more relevant than those which happen to be popular for a few years or decades now. mfc (talk) 17:10, 6 March 2010 (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that it's a conscious choice, though I'm quite surprised. The text doesn't present it as historical development..maybe I'll edit the text to say that. The concern about "happen to be popular for a few years or decades now" doesn't seem like an issued to me, in that wikipedia gets updated much more frequently that that.Ccrrccrr (talk) 22:20, 7 March 2010 (UTC)


I would personally be interested in seeing a History section for this page. It would be interesting to see where the idea of scientific notation originated, who invented it, and other things. If anyone is interested in researching/writing about that. atallcostsky talk 20:02, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

"form" vs. "notation"?[edit]

Shouldn't the article use the word "notation" instead of "form" in the case below?

"Normalized scientific form is the typical form of expression of large numbers for many fields [..]"
"Normalized scientific notation is the typical form of expression of large numbers for many fields [..]" Tommy (talk) 03:28, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

"×" vs. "·"?[edit]

Shouldn't the article use this multiplication symbol "·" instead of this "×"? The reason I'm asking is because I believe the "×" symbol looks confusingly alike the "x" character. So in one example in this article, it would be instead of , thus avoiding confusion with . Tommy (talk) 03:28, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Explanation of difference between "standard form" and "alternative form" of scientific notation, missing.[edit]

There are two types of normalized scientific notation forms, namely the "standard form" and the "alternative form". But this Wikipedia article does not mention them. Can someone please add info about that to the article? I found an explanation here: . The web page explains the differences from a mathematical perspective, but does not elaborate on why the alternative form exists, what it's benefits are (if any) and exactly what countries it is that uses it. Tommy (talk) 05:23, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Digit grouping?[edit]

Numbers in the article seem to use different conventions (spaces or commas) for grouping digits. These conventions do vary from country to country (although I notice that a comma is not used for a decimal point here). Is there a specific convention in scientific notation? If not, should digits in this article's example numbers be grouped at all?

What about digit grouping in the exponent? In an E-notation exponent? Casu Marzu (talk) 15:12, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Scientific Notation vs Standard Form[edit]

Whilst I can see that 'Scientific Notation' is apparently the established title and wording of this page, the fact that this article lacks many sources, not one of which give the subject of this article a title, I think that a debate could be had. Just a simple google search shows there to be 2,350,000 hits for scientific notation, 19,700,000 for Standard index form, and 429,000,000 for standard form. Thoughts? Winnie412ii (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 21:04, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

I agree, standard index form is more applicable, since the definition of science is very wide, and something called scientific notation can have many different definitions, potentially. Standard index form makes more sense. Index actually means something specific.
We don't use standard index form to "build and organize knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe" (science defined as such by Wikipedia). We use it to represent numbers in a more compact form using indices, something which has applications in not only science, but also economics, statistics, and anything else that involves very large numbers. --BurritoBazooka (talk) 23:04, 17 March 2013 (UTC)

Use of Spaces[edit]

States - before and after 'x' and before 'e' yet in the examples, also uses it to seperate groups of 3 digits ? Preroll (talk) 18:12, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Template "val"[edit]

A few months ago, {{val}} was inserted for much of the display. However, it is not compatible with either WP:MOSNUM or common notation, in that most commas as digit separators were changed to spaces of some sort. Comments? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 20:21, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

I see very little change: in your revert there are still dominantly "spaces of some sort" anyway. And WP:MOSNUM#Grouping of digits does suggest gaps for scientific articles ("This style is especially recommended for articles related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics."), so your revert has changed it from being consistent with the MoS to internally inconsistent. If val is not consistent with the MoS, it should be changed so that it is. —Quondum 20:56, 26 June 2015 (UTC)

Edition at 11:17 on 21 May 2017[edit]

... was accidentally anonymous (forgot that logged out) but done by MusJabłkowy. MusJabłkowy (talk) 11:57, 21 May 2017 (UTC)

Edition on 27 November 2017[edit]

This is a comment to an update at the end of „E-notation” section. I replaced the phrase „but it is not encouraged in publications”, which causes people to give up with this notation (Janice Sexton from The Astronomical Journal wrote to me, that I am the first person asking them about E-notation.). The deleted reference [3] to Edwards, John (2009), Submission Guidelines for Authors: HPS 2010 Midyear Proceedings (PDF), McLean, Virginia: Health Physics Society is still in the Internet (however John Edwards no longer works in Health Physics Society and his email given there is out of date) and Health Physics Society still does not accept E-notation: (search for “Use power of 10”), retrieved on June 11, 2017 (perhaps this would be good to alter the reference, because it is now not smart to reference the text dated 2009, which applies to a conference in 2010). I have sent the question "Do you accept E-notation? If not, please explain, why not." to over 40 journals. Only 10 journals answered: 4 would accept E-notation, 2 would not (because of the style of the journal and the tradition), and 4 would accept it in manuscript and convert it to classical (superscript) scientific notation. If Wikipedia editors want it, I can forward these e-mails or paste them here (on the Talk page) – please e-mail to me at ; please don't rely on my Talk page. MusJabłkowy (talk) 11:34, 27 November 2017 (UTC)

Unfortunately, this is unsourced and original research (see WP:OR). We either need public statements of these (and other) journals or a "meta" source discussing the issue, see WP:RS. I have therefore reverted your change (also, becaused it introduced some POV). --Matthiaspaul (talk) 20:30, 1 December 2017 (UTC)
For privacy reasons I removed the email addresses in your comment above. --Matthiaspaul (talk) 20:34, 1 December 2017 (UTC)

How is zero written in (normalized) scientific notation?[edit]

I can't find a mention of it in the article.

Mathworld has this to say about it: "The special case of 0 does not have a unique representation in scientific notation, i.e., 0=0×10^0=0×10^1=...." at

Andopp (talk) 11:35, 17 January 2018 (UTC)