A through variable is a dynamic variable that has the same value at both ends (or any point) of an element.

Consider the figure below:

     -->v1      -->v2
     | ________ |
      |        |
f1--->| damper |--->f2
      |________|

Vdamper = v2 - v1

Apply Newton's Law to form the equation

f1 + f2 = ma

By definition, we take the mass of the damper to be zero, so

f2 = - f1

Now define f2 = -f1 = F

We have the figure:

      -->v1      -->v2
      | ________ |
       |        |
 F<----| damper |--->F
       |________|

We can say that the damper transmits a force, F, through itself, end-to-end, unchanged. Thus we say that force is a through variable.

This is an underlying concept in forming free body diagrams in physics

A through variable is in contrast to an across variable.

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