# 1.4.2: Entering Large Numbers and Small Numbers

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It is common in the USA to enter numbers >= 1000 using commas. However, commas are not used that way in MATLAB and Octave. As you will read in the chapter on vectors, commas are used to separate elements of a vector. One way to enter large numbers is to simply leave out the commas, as shown in these examples:

a = 1000

b = 54321

If you enter b with a comma:

b = 54,321

the result is is 2 separate numbers:

b =    54
ans =   321

That is not what is intended.

According to the World Bank, the 2023 population of Brazil is 215,313,498

In MATLAB or Octave, this can be entered as:

Brazil_population= 215313498

Alternatively this can be entered using scientific notation (also called exponent notation):

Brazil_population= 215.313498E6 % The "E" indicates

The speed of light in vacuum can be written (approximately) as

c = 3.0E8 % m/s

The "E" can be either upper or lower case:

c = 3.0e8 % m/s

Similar notation can be used for very small numbers. For example the wavelength of a red LED might be 650 nm

red_wavelength = 650e-6 % meters

This page titled 1.4.2: Entering Large Numbers and Small Numbers is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Carey Smith.