Reverse Polish notation (RPN), also known as reverse Łukasiewicz notation, Polish postfix notation or simply postfix notation, is a mathematical notation in which operators follow their operands, in contrast to Polish notation (PN), in which operators precede their operands. It does not need any parentheses as long as each operator has a fixed number of operands. The description "Polish" refers to the nationality of logician Jan Łukasiewicz,[1][2] who invented Polish notation in 1924.[3][4][5][6]

Almost unrecognized outside of Germany for long, the first computer to use postfix notation was Konrad Zuse's Z3 in 1941[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15] as well as his Z4 in 1945. Consequently, the reverse Polish scheme was again proposed in 1954 by Arthur Burks, Don Warren, and Jesse Wright[16] and was independently reinvented by Friedrich L. Bauer and Edsger W. Dijkstra in the early 1960s to reduce computer memory access and use the stack to evaluate expressions. The algorithms and notation for this scheme were extended by the Australian philosopher and computer scientist Charles L. Hamblin in the mid-1950s.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

During the 1970s and 1980s, Hewlett-Packard used RPN in all of their desktop and hand-held calculators, and has continued to use it in some models into the 2020s.[23][24] In computer science, reverse Polish notation is used in stack-oriented programming languages such as Forth, STOIC, PostScript, RPL and Joy.

Oops something went wrong: