If a value is assigned to a variable that is named by capital K it cannot be deleted. This effect can be observed directly after start of the program.

Is this a bug?

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ This is why new users should avoid using variable names that start with capital letters. In this case, K is a built-in symbol used by internal functions as a dummy variable for integrals/products/sums, e.g. DSolve[{y'[x] == Sin[Sin[x]]}, y, x]. Of course, you can't delete it! $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2020 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Additionally: please do not use the bugs tag in the future for new questions, until other people have confirmed that what you have encountered is a bug. $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2020 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ @granularbastard Capital letters at the beginning of variables aren't forbidden, they're just a bad idea because you might try to use a built-in symbol (which are all capitalized). $\endgroup$
    – Chris K
    Jan 25, 2020 at 22:25
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    $\begingroup$ A related thread. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2020 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ A hint is that it's black, not blue. @CATrevillian C is used as a dummy variable and it is Protected. $\endgroup$
    – Szabolcs
    Jan 26, 2020 at 16:06

3 Answers 3


The Wolfram Language currently uses seven single letter capital letters for various core system functions: C, D, E, I, K, N, and O. Mnemonically: OINCKED

The other 19 capital letters are available to use, at least in current versions:

data = {#, Symbol[#], ToExpression[# <> "::usage"]} & /@ CharacterRange["A", "Z"];
Grid[data, Alignment -> Left, Frame -> All, BaseStyle -> "Text"]

enter image description here

Of these seven symbols, K is the only undocumented symbol (in the sense that it does not have a reference page). I would consider that a bug or shortcoming in the documentation.

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    $\begingroup$ Also CODE INK - two small meaningful words. Or maybe KODE INC an imaginary company. $\endgroup$ May 4, 2020 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ Peltio was about to give a... saucy mnemonic here, but thankfully he restrained himself. :) $\endgroup$ May 5, 2020 at 1:25

K is part of the System` context. You were removing symbols from the Global` context only, so K wasn't affected. It could be unset with K=..

That said, when doing interactive work, avoid using any symbols whose name starts with a capital letter, as these may conflict with System symbols or package symbols.

Do not set any value for K and do not attempt to Remove it as this will break things. K is used as the summation index when a generic Sum is returned. An example from the documentation of RSolve:

RSolve[a[n + 1] == a[n] + f[n], a[n], n]

(* {{a[n] -> C[1] + Sum[f[K[1]], {K[1], 0, -1 + n}]}} *)

I do not know why K is not Protected. It seems like it would make sense to protect it as people regularly assign to it by accident.


If K is evaluated then click on "description of K" and you get information:

K is a default generic name for a summation index in a symbolic sum.

The bug is that this information is missing in the help.

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    $\begingroup$ To clear K of an assigned value, use K =. $\endgroup$
    – Bob Hanlon
    Jan 26, 2020 at 1:14

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