If I do this in Calc mode:

' 7i-2

It will enter the symbolic algebraic term 7i - 2, which is displayed like so:

--- Emacs Calculator Mode ---
1:  7 i - 2

However, if I run A (calc-abs), I only see this:

--- Emacs Calculator Mode ---
1:  abs(7 i - 2)

In reality, the absolute value of 7i - 2 is sqrt(53). How can I get such a result to show up in Calc mode?

1 Answer 1


You first have to evaluate the algebraic 7i - 2 by pressing =, such that it is rewritten as (-2, 7). Then you can use calc-abs just like you would on a normal number.

See also the section on complex formats in the Calc manual.

  • 1
    Thanks! = is exactly what I was looking for. Also, thanks for pointing me to that part of the manual... I had already seen it, but missed the part about =.
    – GDP2
    Oct 26, 2017 at 11:59

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