# Reverse Polish vs Algebraic? HP 12C

Hi guys, Recently got hold of a hp 12C platinum (anniversary addition!) calculator. It has an old fashioned look to it, but underneath the hood apparently there’s plenty of power! So I’ve started working through the manual to get accustomed to it, and there seems to be two keystroke modes - RPN and ALG. The manual talks me through how to go about things in either keystroke mode. Is there any particular reason I should choose one over the other? RPN seems a bit weird… but if there are long term advantages I’m happy to go along with that. Cheers for thoughts.

RPN will require much less keystrokes to accomplish the same calculation as algrebraic. You will also not have to use memory as much. Take the time to get comfortable with RPN. It will pay off long-term.

Thanks mwvt9, I will do just that

i have used the 12C since I started out with citi in 1984. Back then it was the only one around and it still is - but there are now copies/toys. Engineer buddies always tell me RPN is better (faster, less key strokes, apparently), but I have always used ALG coz it makes more sense for me. Does the job fine - can use nested brackets, memory banks, etc. In ALG: 2 + 2 = 4 In RPN: 2 enter 2 + = 4 good luck!

RPN unless it is a section with simple calculations (like ratios or arithmetic) Also, is there a way to clear only the data in the top stack register on the HP 12c?

for CFA exams you won’t use the calculator much, and the calcs are mostly very simple

I occasionally have trouble switching from RPN to algebraic on normal calculators. The RPN is great when you have all these nested parenthesis (like if you ever need to calculate the value of an annuity without the business function). It seems silly at first blush if you are just trying to find 4% of 162 or something. But sometimes I pick up a regular calculator and find myself saying… where’s the enter key? (only for long calcs).