A scientific calculator is a type of electronic calculator, usually but not always handheld, designed to calculate problems in science, engineering, and mathematics. They have almost completely replaced slide rules in traditional applications, and are widely used in both education and professional settings. Modern scientific calculators generally have much more features than a standard four or five-function calculator, and the feature set differs between manufacturers and models.
In certain contexts such as higher education, scientific calculators have been superseded by graphing calculators, which offer a superset of scientific calculator functionality along with the ability to graph input data and write and store programs for the device. There is also some overlap with the financial calculator market. While most scientific models have traditionally used a single-line display similar to traditional pocket calculators, many of them have more digits (10 to 12), sometimes with extra digits for the floating point exponent.
Scientific calculators are used widely in situations that require quick access to certain mathematical functions, especially those that were once looked up in mathematical tables, such as trigonometric functions or logarithms. They are also used for calculations of very large or very small numbers, as in some aspects of astronomy, physics, and chemistry.
They are very often required for math classes from the junior high school level through college, and are generally either permitted or required on many standardized tests covering math and science subjects; as a result, many are sold into educational markets to cover this demand, and some high-end models include features making it easier to translate a problem on a textbook page into calculator input, e.g. by providing a method to enter an entire problem in as it is written on the page using simple formatting tools.