# This is why we still have real calculatorsâ€¦

This is about scientific notation, and how Gnome Calculator still doesn’t do it correctly.

So I was checking a simple calculation today, and couldn’t find a proper calculator, so I reached for gnome-calculator on the desktop. That was a mistake.

It seems to think that

`8Ã—10Â¹Â²Ã·6Ã—10â¹`

comes to

`1.333333333Ã—10Â²Â¹`

which is not correct. It would, if I’dÂ  typed it as:

`8Ã—1Ã—10Â¹Â²Ã·6Ã—1Ã—10â¹`

You can only get the right answer (1333.333â€¦) if you type

`(8Ã—10Â¹Â²)Ã·(6Ã—10â¹)`

so it’s clear that gnome-calculator isn’t apply the right exponentiation operator precedence when you hit â€˜Ã—10yâ€™. It would have been so much better if gnome-calculator supported ‘E’ scientific notation (1.333E21 for 1.333Ã—10Â²Â¹).

A bug is filed, but I don’t think I trust it any more. I’m looking at having a proper calculator again, or maybe invest in one of the delightful tiny HP clones from SwissMicros.com.

Almost forgot that I had a barely-used HP 49G in the cupboard. It was barely used because the thing eats AAA batteries. Who knew that Dollarama would have a pair of NiMH AAAs for only \$2?

Update, 2021: Use galculator instead. It does the right thing, and supports RPN like a calculator should. You don’t need to remember any precedence rules when you have The Truth.

1. JaGa says:

For 8Ã—10Â¹Â²Ã·6Ã—10â¹ is correct 1.333333333Ã—10Â²Â¹ is correct!

For (8Ã—10Â¹Â²)Ã·(6Ã—10â¹) or 8Ã—10Â¹Â²Ã·(6Ã—10â¹) is correct 1333.333!

Commutative property baby!

2. 8e12/6e9 has to be of the order 1e3, not 1e21 …

3. geoff says:

The computer can only do what you tell it to do.
Following standard BIDMAS/BODMAS, and not entering [8Ã—10Â¹Â²/(6Ã—10â¹)], that 1.33Ã—10Â²Â¹ is correct.
Brackets -> Indices/Order -> *(Divide|Multiply)* -> (Add|Subtract)
Division and multiplication are done in the same step, so it is just the straight order.
gnome-calculator doesn’t have a separate (e/xâ€1â€0â€^) symbol, literally [((8 * 10Â¹Â²) / 6) * 10â¹], following BIDMAS

4. Nah, it’s gnome calculator doing it wrong. Every other calculator with an “EE” or “Ã—10^x” button understands that the Ã— in ‘8Ã—10Â¹Â²’ is at the highest precedence, and isn’t the same as typing 8 times 10Â¹Â². It’s scientific notation, a shortcut for typing 8000000000000. There’s nothing to take precedence over anything here: there’s just one division operator.

Even my Commodore 64 gets it right:
```PRINT 8E12 / 6E9 1333.33333 ```