The max( Command

Command Summary

Returns the maximum of two elements or of a list.

Command Syntax

  • for two numbers: max(x,y)
  • for a list: max(list)
  • comparing a number to each element of a list: max(x,list) or max(list,x)
  • pairwise comparing two lists: max(list1,list2)

Menu Location


  1. MATH to access the math menu.
  2. RIGHT to access the NUM submenu.
  3. 7 to select max(, or use arrows.

Alternatively, press:

  1. 2nd LIST to access the list menu.
  2. LEFT to access the MATH submenu.
  3. 2 to select max(, or use arrows.

Calculator Compatibility


Token Size

1 byte

max(X,Y) returns the largest of the two numbers X and Y. max(list) returns the largest element of list. max(list1,list2) returns the pairwise maxima of the two lists. max(list1,X) (equivalently, max(X,list1)) returns a list whose elements are the larger of X or the corresponding element of the original list.

     {4 3}
     {2 3}

Unlike comparison operators such as < and >, max( can also compare complex numbers. To do this, both arguments must be complex — either complex numbers or complex lists: max(2,i) will throw an error even though max(2+0i,i) won't. In the case of complex numbers, the number with the largest absolute value will be returned. When the two numbers have the same absolute value, the first one will be returned: max(i,-i) returns i and max(-i,i) returns -i.

Advanced Uses

max( can be used in Boolean comparisons to see if at least one of a list is 1 (true) — useful because commands like If or While only deal with numbers, and not lists, but comparisons like L₁=L₂ return a list of values. In general, the behavior you want varies, and you will use the min( function or the max( function accordingly.

Using max( will give you a lenient test — if any one element of the list is 1 (true), then the max( of the list is true — this is equivalent to putting an or in between every element. For example, this tests if K is equal to any of 24, 25, 26, or 34 (the getKey arrow key values):

:If max(K={24,25,26,34

To get the element of a real list in Ans with the greatest absolute value, use imag(max(iAns)) or max(abs(Ans)).

max( can be also used along with min( to constrain a value between a lower and upper number:

:max(-1,min(1,100)) // returns 1 because 1 is between -1 & 100
:max(-1,min(1,0)) // returns 0 because 1 is not between -1 & 0

where the bounds for which the number 1 must fall between are first argument of max( and the second argument of min( in the above code.

Error Conditions

  • ERR:DATA TYPE is thrown when comparing a real and a complex number. This can be avoided by adding +0i to the real number (or i^4 right after it, for those who are familiar with complex numbers)
  • ERR:DIM MISMATCH is thrown, when using max( with two lists, if they have different dimensions.

Related Commands


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