Scientific calculators are simply advanced calculators designed to help you calculate problems relating to science, engineering, and mathematics.
Unlike standard calculators, scientific calculators can handle advanced functions in areas such as physics, chemistry, scientific notation,
engineering, geometry and trigonometry. These additional scientific functions mean they have many more keys, and use more memory, than standard
Here at CalculatorLibrary, we have 2 free online scientific calculators:
In recent years, we have seen some significant improvements to scientific calculators, including WiFi and the ability to share work with others,
however the main functions are quite universal across all brands and models.
Here are some of the main functions for a scientific calculator.
Simplicity and speed
There was a time when scientific calculations were done almost completely by hand. Now, it only takes a moment to input the data and solve the problem
using an advanced scientific calculator. Often difficult problems can be solved quickly and easily using just one or two keys.
Basic functions and exponents
In addition to all the advanced scientific functions, scientific calculators can still handle the basic calculator functions such as addition, subtraction,
multiplication, and division. However, remember that subtraction is a separate function from negation, which often causes confusion because the keys look
Exponents, unknown numbers
Exponents raise numbers to another power. They are used in most higher math courses, but only scientific calculators can handle algebraic functions.
In addition to solving for a known number, you can also use these calculators for an unknown number. This is important for algebra and other advanced math
Order of operations
Standard calculators work well to solve simple equations with one or two variables, but they can't resolve which numbers should be processed
first. On the other hand, scientific calculators allow you to input problems with an order of operations, using parentheses to solve more complex problems.
This tells the calculator which operation to perform first, in the same way you would calculate it manually, on paper.
One of the simplest operations on a scientific calculator is finding the square root of a number. Simply enter the number and press the √ key to
calculate the result.
If you're dealing with calculations related to calculus and trigonometry, it’s likely you'll be using logarithms. These formulas are the inverse of
exponents and help calculate measurements in a multitude of areas such as growth, speed and area. Logarithms are mostly used in the medical and
engineering fields but they have wide application across industry for processes such as computer modeling and statistical analysis.
The secret to dealing with logarithms is is often simply knowing how to enter the correct formula on a scientific calculator. To use these functions,
make sure your calculator includes log and Ln keys.
Memory advantage when using logarithms
Another advantage when using a scientific calculator for logarithms is that there is an inbuilt memory which can store equations.
If you're solving a problem over several sessions, you can store your current input and return later if you take a break or want to try another solution.
Sine, cosine, and tangent functions
Sine, cosine, and tangent functions represent the ratios of the sides of a right-angled triangle. These ratios are fundamental to studies of calculus and
trigonometry, and those working in any type of engineering or architectural field. Calculations commonly involve finding unknown values in an equation.
Like logarithms, these calculations were once complicated, however scientific calculators can now give you the answer very quickly after you enter the
correct formula. To use these functions, make sure your calculator includes sin, cos and tan keys.
The sine is the ratio of the opposite side of a right-angled triangle to the hypotenuse (the longest side of a right-angled triangle, opposite the right
angle). A sine function is used to measure angles, especially when sides or angles are unknown. The inverse sine is particularly useful to calculate
the hypotenuse of a triangle.
The cosine is the ratio of the adjacent side of a right-angled triangle to the hypotenuse and is most commonly used to find the length of a triangle's
hypotenuse. Scientific calculators can also calculate in the reverse with inverse cosines. Cosines can be found for any angle, even if they are large or
Tangents in degrees or radians
The tangent is the ratio of the opposite side of a right-angled triangle to the adjacent side. Tangents are fundamental in trigonometry and are often
used to calculate the value of the side opposite known values. The result can be calculated in either degrees or radians. In geometry, tangents are
useful when calculating perpendicular lines.
Important Note: Check your calculator is correctly set to degrees or radians to ensure you get the result you want.
When working with these calculations, it is often necessary to graph and solve sine and cosine functions. This is a clear and visual way to present
results and many courses require a knowledge of graphing these various functions.
In addition to solving complicated math problems, scientific calculators have a big advantage by using scientific notation. When numbers are too large
to be expressed in decimal point form, a standard calculator won’t work. They can only calculate with smaller values, so you'll need a scientific calculator
to deal with numbers on a huge scale. They can also deal with negative scientific notation.
Scientific notation is commonly used in fields related to science, engineering and mathematics, particulaly when collecting data or working in the
physics or chemistry fields.
It may be helpful to note here that many scientific calculators have a special mode that can help when calculating engineering equations. Check to see if
your calculator has an "ENG" display mode, designed to help communicate numbers verbally by reading.
To see an example of scientific notation, click here to open our Scientific Calculator then follow these 2
- Enter the value "20".
- Press the 10^x key to calculate the result (10 to the power 20).
The result is very large, so the calculator displays it in scientific notation.
In the same way you would use equations to calculate logs or notations, sines or tangents, a scientific calculator can calculate binary functions, which
require two inputs.
These equations can be difficult to keep track of unless you have a calculator with memory, because this allows you to store the results of each step,
build multiple steps over time, then save your progress for later.
Binary functions are common in algebra and calculus when solving for an unknown value, but also appear when working with the Cartesian product and its