I often encounter situations where I can easily think of python code that, given some input values, computes multiple output values at once. As an example, consider the following simple code-block that converts the real and imaginary part (a and b) of a complex number to its polar representation (radius and phase). In an org-mode file I would write:

#+name: radius_phase_conv 
#+begin_src python :exports none :var a=2. :var b=2.
  from cmath import polar
  from math import degrees
  num = complex(a,b)
  r, phi = polar(num)
  phi_deg = degrees(phi)
  return round(r,5), round(phi_deg,5)

#+RESULTS: radius_phase_conv
| 2.82843 | 45.0 |

Now I want to use such a code on a table in org-mode that contains the columns with the input values. In above example, we might have a table with a and b.

|      a |       b | 
|      1 |       0 | 
|      1 |       1 | 

Putting the line

#+TBLFM: $3='(org-sbe "radius_phase_conv" (a $1) (b $2)

below the table, will produce a 3rd column that contains the tuples with the radius and the phase.

|      a |       b |                    |
|      1 |       0 | (1.0 0.0)          |
|      1 |       1 | (1.41421 45.0)     |
#+TBLFM: $3='(org-sbe "radius_phase_conv" (a $1) (b $2))

How do I need to alter the #+TBLFM: + org-sbe statement in order to produce two columns in the final table, i.e. the desired result would be

| a | b |          |       |
| 1 | 0 | 1.0      |  0.0  |
| 1 | 1 | 1.41421  | 45.0  |
#+TBLFM: ???

1 Answer 1


How about breaking it into two functions and have

$3='(org-sbe radius...)::$4='(org-sbe phase...)

Or keeping one function but passing in a 3rd argument that tells it what value you want returned? Not ideal...

Or don't use TBLFM? What about calling radius_phase_conv and passing in the a|b table (after you NAME it), and then having Python print out the four-column table for you?

  • 1
    Breaking it into two functions is what I use at the moment, but it is not elegant, since I have to duplicate code that does essentially the same. The second solution is what I used in the past, but it is also not very elegant, as I will have column a and b occurring twice in the org-file, i.e. if I want to change a value in a or b, I have to do it in another table. Sep 18, 2019 at 18:53

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