RPN or Reverse Polish Notation

Most frequently calculators are indeed designed to identify simple operations the same way they are actually written. However, RPN or Reverse Polish Notation is a faster system of inputting information and equations. It will also help when performing complicated operations with your calculator.

Anyone who is able to utilise a calculator will be able learn to utilise Reverse Polish Notation calculators. Learning the simple concepts will be done within thirty minutes, however mastering it can only come after practicing. Hewlett Packard has in the past manufactured Reverse Polish Notation calculators, and one of the most popular ones is the HP 48G. There are Reverse Polish Notation calculators available on the Internet as well.

It is also advisable to keep in mind that the most common way of inputting data into a regular calculator is usually in the same order as it is spoken or written, while an RPN calculator does not do it in this same order. For instance, to perform the operation 9+6, on an RPN-based calculator we will press 9, then ENTER, then 6, then +. While with a regular calculator we would press 9, then +, then 6, then ENTER or equal sign.

First step: stack

Firstly, we need to learn about the stack. Reverse Polish Notation calculators have several rows. The stack is the actual collection of the rows. Numbers are placed in the initial row (bottom row) of the stack, and the numbers right above it will move to the next row. However, only a number of rows are actually seen, and there will be rows created for each new set of data that aren’t displayed on that moment. In order to put numbers on the stack, we need to press the number, and press ENTER. To copy the entire row, we must press ENTER and the initial row will actually be copied to the second row. That’s exactly how the data is entered into the calculator.

Second step: deleting the data

There are several ways to eliminate the data from the stack. In order to clear the bottom row, the button that is shaped like an arrow pointing left will clear it. In order to clear the whole stack, press the DEL button (delete).

Third step: swapping

It is actually possible to swap rows. First initial five and then ten, so that ten is on the bottom row and five will be right above it. From that point, just press the swap button.

Fourth step: addition

Let’s do some simple arithmetic operations. In order to do addition, the order of the actual numbers won’t really matter since we will eventually end up with the same sum. To add 7+2, we will press 7, then ENTER, then 2, then +. The 7 and the 2 will actually disappear from the stack and 9 will show up on the bottom row.

Fifth step: subtraction

In order to do subtraction, the order in which we enter the actual numbers does matter. In order to subtract 7-2, we will press 7, then ENTER, then 2, then -. That will give us five. If we did 2-7, we would have minus five.

Sixth step: multiplication

In order to do multiplication, like with addition, the actual order doesn’t really matter because it does not affect the outcome. In order to input 5*5, we would press 5, then ENTER, then 5, then *. Then 25 will show up on the bottom stack.

Seventh step: division

In order to do division, we need to do it in order too. Dividing 5/5 is done by inputting 5, then ENTER, then 5, then ÷. That will show us 1 on the bottom stack.