ETYM Latin, dim. of forma form, model. SeeForm.
1. A conventionalized statement expressing some fundamental principle.
2. A group of symbols that make a mathematical statement; SYN. expression.
3. A liquid food for infants, usually based on milk.
4. A representation of a substance using symbols for its constituent elements; SYN. chemical formula.
A mathematical statement that describes the actions to be performed on numeric values. A formula sets up a calculation without regard to the actual values it is to act upon, such as A + B, with A and B representing whatever values the user designates. Thus, a formula is unlike an arithmetic problem, such as 1 + 2, which includes values and must be restated if any value is changed. Through formulas, users of applications such as spreadsheets gain the power to perform “what-if” calculations simply by changing selected values and having the program recalculate the results. Sophisticated programs include many built-in formulas for performing standard business and mathematical calculations.
In mathematics, a set of symbols and numbers that expresses a fact or rule. A = pr2 is the formula for calculating the area of a circle. Einstein’s famous formula relating energy and mass is E = mc2.
In chemistry, a representation of a molecule, radical, or ion, in which the component chemical elements are represented by their symbols. An empirical formula indicates the simplest ratio of the elements in a compound, without indicating how many of them there are or how they are combined. A molecular formula gives the number of each type of element present in one molecule. A structural formula shows the relative positions of the atoms and the bonds between them. For example, for ethanoic acid, the empirical formula is CH2O, the molecular formula is C2H4O2, and the structural formula is CH3COOH.
Formula is also another name for chemical equation.