33s - ALG is default?

I've been staring and holding up my 32sii to compare to the 33s on hpcalculators.com, have any of you noticed some small details...for example the big silver keys near top: ALG is on the key, but rpn is shifted...so we'll have to be the ones who suffer if we inadvertantly press the ALG key..

Well, I'll be prepared to super glue that key out of motion if I have to. Its interesting, to me the 33s has 7 more keys than the 33s, yet the only function that appears to be new is the x^(1/3), could there possibly (dream) be a matrix capability added in to make up for the .5sized enter key?

Well, I will buy one, and give it the honest chance, because I was raised by an rpn-faithful, and I'm not letting those memories go, even if I go cross eyed with that kbd :)

Can you believe that I passed up a stack of 12-20 32sii's trying to convince myself that as a student I have to save money...of course they had just been discontinued, and I had yet to know what I was missing out on (circa 2001-2). Oh the pain. At least I got a 48gx before they escaped into the memories of rpn past. On a more serious note though, let's try to be open minded about HP. I don't agree with all the details, but it is rpn, and it is programmable. Could you imagine the face of the employee who confirmed the new 49g+ was coming and I still bought the old 48gx?? hahaa...

I listened in while he talked another customer into buying a ti89, "If the instructor uses the ti89, you'll really be better off using it too, other wise you might get lost when he reads out the key strokes during lecture. Those HPs are really difficult to use, they are for real scientists not students who are just learning."
I'm glad that I'm one of the guys who sits waiting for the rest to catch up and confirm my answers. Thanks Jan Lukaezewikz (sorry for spelling) and HP.



You know, how "real scientists" got to be RPN guys is because we got our first tastes of it during the some physics pop quiz in high school or chem midterm in college or quantum mechanics later on. Besides, in those days, we also appreciated its ruggedness and longevity more than design aesthetics. (Heck, we thought those old cast iron interferometer cases looked cool.)

I say, blitz the high schools... since all the kids have to calculators even in calculus (which I still say is horrendous pedagogy), then let it be keystroke programmable RPN and NO GRAPHING! (You learn it better as a child if you have to fight with your pencil, eraser, and graph paper, especially if it's semilog or log-log... and what's all this about SIN, COS, and TAN keys? Where are my tables?) Learn all'em teachers t'teach RPN entry in math class!


Continuing Ed's thought . . .

. . . just store the four-place log tables in ROM and let students use the cursor control keys to navigate through them (something like the HP-48's matrix editor)!


Capital idea, Paul! But I say HP, etc., should throw the students a bone and give them five to eight places!

All joking aside, a "HP-42S--" (as in double minus), in which it becomes very programmable with lots of RAM and optional limited expandability (no games except short programs), but with ONLY FOUR FUNCTIONS HARDWIRED onto the keyboard, well, exponentiation would be okay. The students would have to fiddle with exponentials and such to program their own sines, cosines, etc. And for discipline, there should only be a XYZT four level stack, all of which should be simultaneously displayed by a cut-LCD (as there's no graphing) screen.

I got this idea when Norm Hill said once to me that the HP-31E would be an excellent machine for a kid to learn math on. Well, I disagree... sort of. This "HP-42S--" of mine would have respectable program and data storage space. In fact, to continue, there also ought to be NO HARDWIRED SCIENTIFIC CONSTANTS either, but allow RAM space for kids to go look 'em up and type 'em in. And with respect to this, it should not beep in error when operations with improper mixes of units are done, as with the HP-48 series, so that they have to take a real glance at the display to see if they got the calculation right.

Um... any professional math/science teachers here? What you YOU think? Remember, this is for the kid market.


Ed: You're on the right track, from an educator's/educational perspective.

But your marketing skills are all messed up! ;^)

Don't claim it's for the "Kids Market" -- I doubt many kids will (on their own) want one, nor will they want the work that using one implies. It's for the Parents' and Teachers' markets -- for the folks worried about what that damned younger generation is actually learning these days!


Okay, here is the view of a high school student.

When I was a freshman in high school, a senior asked me if i wanted to check out a calculator (the 32sii). I originally said no, as I had my TI-30xa which I ALMOST knew how to use blind, and I thought i was pretty fast with it. Well, he insisted on giving me the HP (and I am glad he did). I did a few simple math problems with it and tossed it into my backpack. A few days later I tried doing some more complex problems, and fell in love with it. I was originally so amazed by the fact that I could press "*", "-", "+" with no numbers in between. A week later, I could not do anything with my TI-30xa. And a year and a half later, I could use the 32sii blind, and knew how to use every feature of it.

I used the 32sii for my Algebra II and my Pre-Calculus class soley. Every week my Algebra teacher would tell the class that we should go out and buy a TI-83+, becuase pretty soon the class would be getting really hard, and we would need it. I refused to buy one, and just kept using my little scientific calculator. The funny thing is that most of my classmates wanted my teacher to ban the 32sii because it was too powerful. In Pre-Cal, I kept using my 32sii, and over the two years I became excellent at graphing in my head. Where other students had their crutch of a graphing calculator, I simply drew the graph.

This year I am taking Calculus. At the begining of the year I checked out a TI-89 from my teacher (I was not about to buy a TI-89). I used it a bit, and mainly when I was lazy. I would use it to graph, and for the "factor" function. All other math (such as solving equations) would be done by hand or on my 32sii. Then, I got the 49g+. I messed around with it a bit, and it has replaced my TI-89, even though I still know how to do very few features on it. I use it to graph, and simplify equations. On occasion I will use it do simple arithmetic, but I try to restrain myself from using it for that (mainly because the I am used to the + being at the bototm right of the keyboard, and on the 49g+ the enter key is there)

All of my friends who use RPN (about 10-15 of them) love it also. Although none of them are as diehard as I, they use graphing calculators less than the average student. Consequently, they also do the best on the "no calculator" parts of our exams.

So what is all this saying? I am extremely addicted to scientific calculators, due to their speed of entry, but it will be hard to wean students (at least Americans) off of graphing calculators. However, the best way to do this is to force them to use a better scientific calculator (such as the 32sii, or the 33s hopefully).

I plan on buying a 33s for two reasons. One, I will have to give my school back their 32sii in a bit less than 2 years. But more importantly, I have a sister in 6th grade, and they now use calculators (for what, don't ask me), but I want to get her addicted to RPN, and I figure I will lend her the $50 33s, rather than the $250 32sii, or the $175 49g+.



Hi Ben,

Thank you for your post--we NEED to hear this sort of thing--'cause it gets us all FIRED UP! (NORM, Where are you!)

Seriously, you have proven once again that you can't get somthin' fer nothin' and that in mathematics especially, one must gain understanding the hard way--using one's brain! I am heartened to hear that you are learning math, not merely doing homework--though looking at your 51s proposal, I wouldn't expect any less.

Your story also reminds me a bit of my own bragging rights story. Way back in the olden times, ca. 1983, I was the only HP kid in the entire school--an 11c. Well, it broke, (yes, even voyagers can break) and while I waited for the warranty calc (SLOOOOW mail) I asked my Physics teacher if I could borrow a slide rule. See, I showde up to the test, no calculator, looking like the typical goof-off student (hair down to my shoulders etc). He looked at me sideways, thinking I was joshin' him, but then got a sterling out and handed it to me. I finished the test way ahead of everyone else, and not only got an A, but the highest grade. Boyoboy did I gain respect! (And I still have that slide rule).

But the point is, I loved physics--and I understood it--and I was NOT going to let a crutch stand in my way (as you so wisely have also decided).

I wonder why the adults (!!) who make the policies for teaching are so stuck on the crutches--it seems like you are inadvertently leading a counter-revolution from the grass (silicon) roots.

best regards,


P/S. if you already heard my story somewhere, pardon me--I am getting old 8^)


I taught mathematics for a spell at the University level and in my experience there are two distinct camps of students. There are those students who try to understand principles and those who try to understand problems.

Now, I'll likely get lampooned for saying this, and I recognize that it is a generalization, but I say walk a mile in my shoes. It is amazingly clear in a classroom who is who. I'll also let you guess which camp is the bigger, by a lot.

I have a terrible memory so it was just not an option for me to understand large classes of problems. I had to understand principles. Fellow students would ask me for certain formulas and I'd stare blankly at them, then go on to get the highest mark on the exam. I could reproduce formulas from the handfull of principles I was able to understand and commit to memory.

When I encouraged this sort of behaviour in my students, what I'd mostly get is "Yea, I see what you mean, but could you help me with this problem?" It made no difference that this problem was a restatement of the previous problem that we had just solved together.

I think Ben is showing signs of being in the "principle" category. I applaud you for that, Ben. It is true that technological crutches tend to obliterate a certain kind of learning. There's no doubt that learning is largely about overcoming obstacles. The pride of accomplishment fills you with the energy to go on to greater challenges. Having a box with a few buttons do the work for you may be fun (I certainly think so), but it also takes something away from you.

On the other hand, we must pick our fights carefully. No one would argue, for example, that we should do square roots by the old manual method because it gives us insight into certain types of mathematical algorithms. Those algorithms really don't lead anywhere important.

However, graphing is a certain general kind of skill which I would hope students could do without the aid of a graphing calculator. The experience in plotting those points for all those different kinds of cases is well worth the sweat. It leads, in my opinion, to better estimation skills... something that is one of your most valuable assets in engineering, science or business.


Cheers to that! I remember back when, during one of my calculus courses, we were grouped to work as a team. We were dealing with surfaces and applying triple integrals to yield volumes and areas, and I presented our solutions to which one girl said 'you know, you're one of those who just SEE things'. Maybe, but I also happened to be one of those who enjoyed taking walks and thinking and reasoning about what we were learning.

Incidentally, the calculators helped me with calculus in a sense that I would propose expressions and differentiate and evaluate them at points. So they provided a quick check while I couldn't always integrate the expressions with the elementary methods you first start out with.

I remember the first time I tried to "apply" some calculus soon after learning the wonderful arc length by integration method. I decided to design and fabricate a curved shield that would redirect the A/C blowing down on my head in my room. After thinking about a nice curve whose expression I knew, I soon realized that I knew no way to integrate such a function, hahaa. Well soon later such gems as i.b.p. and trig substitutions came along, but it was sobering to learn the existance of limitations to my 'powerful' new tools. Ben, if you're reading this, there's a lot of great surprises coming your way! I'd love to relive some of those moments again :)

Eric Lundgren


I daresay I'm older than you.

And I agree with your feeling about how our general philosophy of teaching has been going (down the tubes).

I am a bit of a calculator nut myself, yet, I DO NOT RECOMMEND them at all for students until halfway through high school. By then, if he is a serious math or science student, then he would already be familiar enough with the theoretical underpinnings that a calculator, with its speed, can only be a boon, even more than a PC because as someone here said, you can run calculations or program it on the subway, in the lunchroom, and even in church. (I saw a kid there a couple of weeks ago with his transparent cased TI-83 or something, totally engrossed in it. I thought, wow, what a hardworking fellow! His mother must be proud! I get closer... heck, he's just playing some game he programmed in or copied in. Oh, and if there's any clergy here- I don't recommend it for services, either, unless you're using it to run some sound or media equipment.)

Of course, for earlier grade levels, any calculator, even the one Mommy uses on the checkout line, is a definite no-no.


Hahaa, I understand your response when you realized he was 'gaming' on his TI. I'm taking engineering school now, and last semester was a clean up semester, with non technical courses (ge stuff) and I sat down in a writing class and looked over to see a guy focused on a black grapher. Hmm...no not an HP, but non the less..a fellow thinker perhaps...alas, no..Tetris on the 86/89...Well, who needs friends anyway. :)

Glad to say I'm deep in the number crunching courses again, and loving it!


Chemistry and physics students, at least on the freshman level, come in WITHOUT GRAPHING SKILLS! Many can't tell abcissa from ordinate and have never heard of them (only "x-axis and y-axis"). They can't scale an axis. They have no clue how to plot points. Let's not even get into actually calculating those points!

To a small degree, I think these very nice graphing calculators have contributed to that. But if you look at the general societal trends, I am tending to the conclusion that even if these calculators were never invented, these mathematical abilities, all mathematical skills would still be in decline among students of recent years. But, these machines don't help it, either.


Be careful you don't slip and load some Klingon zapper or wampus locator (or even chess!) while the instructor is droning on about something you already knew ten years ago. Then, while your about to make your killer move, he switches to something new and noteworthy!


When I encouraged this sort of behaviour in my students, what I'd mostly get is "Yea, I see what you mean, but could you help me with this problem?" It made no
difference that this problem was a restatement of the previous problem that we had just solved together.

This reminds me of George Polya's classic book, How to Solve It. One of the first principles Polya teaches is to relate a new problem to previously-solved problems. "Is this something I've seen before? Is it something I've seen in a different form? If not, is it at least similar to something I've already solved? Can the solution to a previous problem give some insight into this one, or suggest an avenue of approach?" Seems obvious, but I've seen too many people (including adults in the workplace) approach every new problem as if it fell out of the sky without any connection to anything else they've seen before.


I guess this will qualify me for ultra geekdom, but when I was in 5th grade, my two favorite boks on math were "How to Solve It" by Polya, and another book called the "Rule of Nines". They were my favorites because they were both over my head (I could *feel* it when they went over!) and also totally fascinating. I remember the Eureka! feeling when I finally learned Algebra in 9th grade (yes that was normal timing!) and I realized that by merely moving stuff across the equals sign, all sorts of seemingly intractible concepts that had been over my head, were suddenly not over my head!

Which brings me to one other thought---I am a very self-taught type, and also in addition to science type stuff, I am a liberal arts type (majored in English Literature) and one outstanding difference between the two disciplines (literature vs math[s]) is that oftentimes, a single mathematics book will not be enough to undertand a topic completely--one needs a professor, or absent that for a self taught type, another book. There is a more discrete quantized nature to mathematical knowledge--some concepts you just *get* or *not*. But in literature, you are always free to be rather "soft" in what is hard fact or understanding, and so you can gain a useable understanding without resorting to extra books--though one's understanding and opinions may and usually do broaden from reading criticism in addition to the Work.

In other words, sometimes (as was the case with algebra for me) you may have to wait a while (even years!) before you actually can even have the possibility of understanding!

Now, if only I can find my old books.......where DID they go!




I know what you mean, Bill. I too am something of a hands on independent learner. I have always thought that a good printed software/hardware manual was more useful than any help file could ever be. I have several programs I have been working on over the years for various calculators and I will occasionally get to a point were I don't see how to get from point A to point B. I set things aside and I may be reading something or see something that just suddenly goes "CLICK" in my mind and everything is clear. I understand far more math and physics today than I did when I was taking them in high school and college.


Well, I can one-up you in the geek department, Bill. I have taught sessions on doing mathematical proofs where the "textbook" for the course was that fascinating little book by Polya!

You gotta love a discipline with terms like "reductio ad absurdum", don't ya? He, he, he... god I love it.... wait... did I just say that?


don't forget "ad infinitum".. :) I love it too.

Wouldn't it be a great campaign to give math the grasp that video games and pop-culture seem to have on kids? (ben s. excluded of course, and any other young representatives present here as well :) )


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Default angle mode Eric Smith 71 5,310 12-06-2012, 01:19 AM
Last Post: Eddie W. Shore
  Request for HP 30b program to switch to ALG-RPN Sujith Abraham 1 449 09-27-2012, 11:00 AM
Last Post: Bruce Bergman
  DM-xxCC Default Display Values Mark Hardman 3 662 09-13-2012, 03:42 PM
Last Post: Lode
  Is this right? 33s ALG mode quirk Matt Agajanian 6 904 03-16-2012, 12:45 PM
Last Post: bill platt
  Default switch settings for HP-87 HP-1B David Ramsey 3 604 05-06-2011, 08:52 PM
Last Post: David Ramsey
  HP-35s: Better in ALG mode? Silvio A. Bensi 37 3,617 01-12-2010, 10:10 PM
Last Post: Sílvio A. Bensi
  HP50g - Input with default value vq 4 566 10-23-2008, 08:26 AM
Last Post: C.Ret
  Possible to change 20b P/YR default? Cinealta 11 1,284 08-15-2008, 07:24 PM
Last Post: V-PN
  Default "Beep" pitch in HP 49/50 Howard Boardman 0 323 03-07-2008, 02:54 PM
Last Post: Howard Boardman
  RPN versus ALG in programs Thomas Klemm 4 698 08-27-2007, 04:16 AM
Last Post: Vieira, Luiz C. (Brazil)

Forum Jump: