Wednesday, October 17, 2012


If you're reading this then it's already too late you've probably come across scalars and vectors and pondered their differences. The pair of terms is used in many contexts as diverse as operations performed by a CPU. I think the names go back as far as matrix mathematics, and - if you'll listen - I'll tell you why...

Matrices can be "multiplied" in two ways:

  1. two matrices are multiplied and the result is an arrangement of dot products;
  2. one matrix and one scalar are multiplied and every value in the matrix is scaled by the scalar.

Now, every time an algorithm requires to scale a collection of values by some number, will I name that variable "factor" or "scalar"?

Which would you choose?

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