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when I type sqrt(4) I get

^
invalid command

how do I calculate the square root of a positive real number with gnuplot?

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    You should probably be using a tool designed for calculations such as bc or dc. The sqrt() function in gnuplot is intended for manipulating data under the plot command, not as a command in-and-of itself. – doneal24 Oct 3 '19 at 16:29
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    What are you trying to do, exactly? sqrt(4) on its own is an invalid gnuplot command - but (for example) plot sqrt(4) should be valid – steeldriver Oct 3 '19 at 16:57
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If you want gnuplot to show you the result of a square root, then use the print() function in any of these ways:

> print(sqrt(4));

or

> a=sqrt(4);print(a);

or

> a=4;print(sqrt(a));

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