Feeling older



#52

The Hi and Lois comic strip in today's paper has the son saying

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With these new phones you can surf the internet, make movies, play music ...

and the father replying
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It makes me feel old. I once thought it was amazing that my pocket calculator could tell time.

That illustrates why selling pocket calculators is not easy these days, and why selling retro versions will be even more difficult. What pocket calculators can do just isn't Gee-Whiz anymore.

#53

How very true. However, I still don't have a cell phone and doubt I ever will; and I'm not yet to my fifth decade. I still think there is a future calculator out there that will be Gee-wiz for me. And if it makes a phone call, well..... :)

CHUCK


#54

I see college kids too often using their cell phones AS THEIR CALCULATORS... in science courses, no less.

Unfortunately, the cell phone calc programs generally are only glorified 4-bangers. My son informs me that his i-pod touch CAN download a scientific calculator, but he hasn't done it (nor, I guess, many of his friends). Of course, these same students don't seem to wear watches, neither. Yep, you guessed it- they use their cell phones. Don't they know that to tell time on a phone, you have to first pull it out of your pocket, pocketbook, backpack, briefcase, or whatever, but with a watch, all you have to do flip your wrist?... and they brag about being oh, so lazy...

... lazy??... I enable the clocks on my HP-48g's, 49g+, and 50g. The clocks really aren't all that accurate, but when you've had your nose stuck for a long time into the LCD screens, it's nice to be able to just glance up at the upper right and see how long it's been, even if the time itself might be a few minutes off.

And why do I use these big bricks instead of the more pleasurable to use simple programmable scientifics (HP-33s, 35s)? I need to look at or use data often from a periodic table. I've got 'em on the walls, inside books (within arm's reach), or maybe even on the computer screen. But if I've got to do some calculations on the calculator with that information, I won't even have to shift my eyes- just a couple of the proper keypresses and I can call up the necessary information, enter it on the stack, and off I go. (And I complain about kids not using books anymore... )


#55

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Of course, these same students don't seem to wear watches, neither. Yep, you guessed it- they use their cell phones.

I have done so for the past dozen years.

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Don't they know that to tell time on a phone, you have to first pull it out of your pocket,....

Exactly, where it's less liable to get scratched, bashed, fall off due to a broken strap, etc. I have a growing collection of old and functioning cell phones, but have lost at least 1 watch (my first - an LED - got it from my dad when I was in school), and irrepairably damaged a further 3. Now I just keep some for occasions.

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(And I complain about kids not using books anymore... )

I certainly can't be the one complaining, I use a computer for work all day, and instead of pulling out a book I often just google the info.

Just my 2p worth

#56

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I certainly can't be the one complaining, I use a computer for work all day, and instead of pulling out a book I often just google the info.

Frontline (US PBS news show) last week aired "Digital Nation". One of the topics was how kids are learning differently because of the Net. Your statement is the status quo for many kids today.

Frontline is free to watch on pbs.org. If you have XBMC (Linux/XBOX), Boxee (Windows/Mac/Linux), or Plex (Mac) then you can see it there too. Depending on the episode Frontline is free/fee on iTunes.


#57

Quote:

Frontline (US PBS news show) last week aired "Digital Nation". One of the topics was how kids are learning differently because of the Net. Your statement is the status quo for many kids today.


That's my personal experience as well. While I love books, and own many, many, many of them, I tend to resort to "my Google brain" first especially while seated at a computer (which is 85+% of the time at work).

And this has been my academic experience as well. I was an undergrad back in the late '80s, early '90s, and then completed an evening Master's program from '06-'08. When I wrote a research paper as an undergrad, it involved hours of meticulous research, searching terminals for possibly relevant articles, and painstaking evaluation of the article by digging up, looking through, and photocopying the physical publications. Writing a research paper now, the difference is completely striking: just go to google scholar and you can get dozens of candidate references in a heartbeat, and text searches within the content can confirm an article's relevancy in about 1/20th the time. As a result, my papers had more and better references, and needed less time to research; the process was entirely paperless and didn't require schlepping to the library and fighting for terminals.

I wouldn't describe this, however, as a learning process, but rather a research process, as researched material isn't necessarily learned. (And this applies for both my early and later experiences.) I may check out that episode to see how this impacts learning in general.

#58

Take your son's iPod Touch, start up the Calculator, tip it on the side. It will turn into a scientific calculator.
Your son will say "wow".

It happened with my son, who also told me he won't be downloading i41cx+ any time soon :) At least it knows it exists... Maybe he will go for it when I show him the printer which can email printouts.

#59

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I see college kids too often using their cell phones AS THEIR CALCULATORS... in science courses, no less.

That is because they spent 500$ on a cell phone, and can't afford a calculator. Both my cellphones have been gifts, both have always been in silence all mode and the current one is in my locker while I am on campus. Everyone keeps telling me I need to carry it on for "emergencies" funny how their idea of one so far doesn't match my idea of a real emergency.

Between a calculator and a cellphone, I would keep the calculator if I had to pick one. And I am only 22.

Dimitri


#60

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can't afford a calculator

I realize you are probably joking, but you can find any number of simple scientifics - all algebra, of course :( - for less than $10 on sale.

I used to have half a dozen Casios, TIs, even an HP, handy when I taught physics and astronomy labs, so that whining students couldn't avoid doing the lab assignment by claiming "I don't have my calculator!" I just finally gave them all to the local high school science teacher.


#61

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I realize you are probably joking, but you can find any number of simple scientifics - all algebra, of course :( - for less than $10 on sale.

That is correct mostly. Mind you with 500$ cellphones and 70$ a month voice/data plans I have heard people say they can't afford one.

Dimitri


#62

Sounds about right, they spend all their money on what they want and so don't even have small change left for what they need. :)

#63

I thought the calculator on a friends iPOD rather primative - until he turned the display through 90 degrees...

Mike T.

#64

Years ago in primary school kids learned basic math: add, subtract, multiply, divide, etc. and computers were learned and used by the college kids at the universities. Now it's reversed: they learn to use computers in primary school, and we have to teach basic math to our college kids. Sad.


#65

You ever hear a bitter laugh?

I just did... from my own mouth, Chuck.

What you said is so sadly, pathetically true. Unfortunately, there's more evil that that: those kids who are using computers in primary school later become poor secondary school students and even worse college students, assuming they even get that far.

A student once told me she couldn't afford the required texts, all the while her earrings, necklaces, rings, and watch, all nice stuff, was dangling, jingling, and twinkling as she spoke. So, I gave one earring a gentle flick of the finger. She responded, "Oh, my boyfriend gave me these." I replied, "Next time he comes around, tell him you want textbooks!" No response came from her on that.

Incidentally, these same primary level pupils are also using calculators- FOR BASIC ARITHMETIC!! No wonder they can't do math anymore.


#66

I think some teachers are getting the message. My 3rd grader's teacher is doing basic drills like I remember doing. Sadly this is not part of the regular curriculum.

My 5th grader is in an advanced math class and while a calculator was required on the list of supplies (TI 30XA basic scientific), he said they rarely use it.

The tests that are written well do not require calculators.


#67

This is an issue here (BC, Canada), as well. Calculators are now required in grade seven and graphing calculators in grade 11 (although the graphing calculators are not allowed on any tests). When I was a student, we were never required to own a calculator and were not allowed to use them in class until grade nine. I can't for the life of me understand why students "must" buy or rent from the school a $150 calculator to learn math that many of my classmates did without a calculator at all 25 years ago. I imagine the argument must be something like the students in grade 11 are taught how to use the calculator to prepare them for physics 11 and 12, calculus 11 and 12 and math 12.

I think that the reality is that the education boards across North America have been seduced by getting on for 20 years of successful TI marketing. It doesn't hurt that textbooks include instructions on how to accomplish many tasks using a TI-83 Plus, either.


#68

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... textbooks include instructions on how to accomplish many tasks using a TI-83 Plus...

Is anyone familiar with the undergraduate level chemistry text, Experiments in Physical Chemistry by Shoemaker and Garland and another person depending on edition?

When I first got it for *COLLEGE*, the third guy was Steinfeld, and there was a page on programming a... get this... HP-45 to a least squares fitting of your data! Now, there were no more HP-45's (except as "vintage" among collectors, I suppose) sold by the time I got to college, and the page looked like it was lifted by the authors from an earlier edition of their own book.

Alas, I looked in later editions and the page was replaced by a larger and more in-depth section on using spreadsheets (although Quattro Pro and Lotus 1-2-3 was included, despite the [relative??] unavailability of these two programs) and mathematics programs like Mathematica, Maple, etc. And in later editions, the chapter on programming mainframes for chemical calculations appear to be gone, too. I guess, why bother if you have access to Mathcad or Gaussian on a PC?

And, it seems to me that programming as we know it... ahem, as *I* know it... might be brushed aside by the likes of LabVIEW. The GUI takes over the universe, with his henchmen the mouseclick and drag'n'drop!!! To books... or, er, was that, arms?... old folks! We are under siege!

Edited: 10 Feb 2010, 8:57 p.m.


#69

We are fond of reminiscing about the "good old days," but in some ways the good old days weren't so good. Yes, overnight turnaround of your punch card jobs meant that you tended to "desk check" your program first (and I'm sure that went away decades ago), but 5 second turnaround sure beats 12 hour turnaround. Are the C++ programs being written today orders of magnitude better or worse than the old FORTRAN programs we wrote 30-40 years ago? Probably not. Do programmers today have that "magical" feeling that we had when we implemented a neat algorithm or found a new way of doing something in code? Probably not. The industry has changed drastically, but then again, what hasn't? It's the natural order of things. Luckily, we still have our vintage machines to play around with, because HP built them to last. I'm thankful for that.

I'm more concerned about the fundamental change in human interaction these days. Walk around a college campus and you will find that maybe 90% of the students you encounter are either talking on their cell phone or engrossed in whatever is coming out of their i-whatever. You used to be able to walk around and say "hi" to people; they don't even hear you anymore. I think that bodes bad for the future. But, I don't know, every generation has survived since we've been tracking these things, and I'm sure this one will too.


#70

As a professional programmer for the past 25 years, I thought I'd comment.

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Are the C++ programs being written today orders of magnitude better or worse than the old FORTRAN programs we wrote 30-40 years ago?
Probably not.

Much of the code is orders of magnitude slower, but this hidden because the hardware is more orders of magnitude faster. Studies have shown that the number of bugs per thousand lines of code is relatively constant, so the higher level languages, where you can get more done with few lines, tend to have fewer bugs for the same amount of functionality. The people who design software languages and tools are slowly starting to realize that they need to think about security and bug prevention, not just functionality. I'm honestly amazed that people put up with the poor quality of software that we deliver.
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Do programmers today have that "magical" feeling we had when we implemented a neat algorithm or found a new way of doing something in code? Probably not. The industry has changed drastically, but then again, what hasn't? It's the natural order of things.

Most of the cool algorithms are available in well established software libraries these days, but I live for the thrill of figuring out how to do something that everyone said couldn't be done :).
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Luckily, we still have our vintage machines to play around with, because HP built them to last. I'm thankful for that.
I'm more concerned about the fundamental change in human interaction these days. Walk around a college campus and you will find that maybe 90% of the students you encounter are either talking on their cell phone or engrossed in whatever is coming out of their i-whatever. You used to be able to walk around and say "hi" to people; they don't even hear you anymore. I think that bodes bad for the future. But, I don't know, every generation has survived since we've been tracking these things, and I'm sure this one will too.

While I agree with you completely, I think it's also true that the dating sites will have quite a big impact on society as a whole. By figuring out how to match up compatible people, I think they will raise the overall happiness of society greatly.

Dave


#71

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I'm honestly amazed that people put up with the poor quality of software that we deliver.

What alternatives do we have?
#72

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Do programmers today have that "magical" feeling that we had when we implemented a neat algorithm or found a new way of doing something in code? Probably not. The industry has changed drastically, but then again, what hasn't? It's the natural order of things. Luckily, we still have our vintage machines to play around with, because HP built them to last. I'm thankful for that.
Don, I could not agree more! With the exception of some embedded design. (how few even code directly in machine language any more?) there are few left who experience that euphoria. Once felt, it's hard to go back to sloppy code. Then again, the world no longer has to get to the moon and back on 32,000 bits of RAM. We no longer have to, and likely not go back so soon because of it!

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I'm more concerned about the fundamental change in human interaction these days.

Darn right.. people using new internet chat forums when they used to write a letter in the mail! :)

#73

Don,

Fully agree on you with regards to 'the good old days'. And I'm pretty sure that our parents who were brought up only on paper and pencil and - maybe - a slide ruler - also thought why the heck do kids need calculators in grade nine, we didn't need them, now, did we?

On the social side thought I'd like to throw things I heard/read from researches in 'generational culture and value' that is quite interesting. It would indicate that why baby boomers and generation x was a lot about 'I' millenium kids and later are much more a 'we' generation. Some say they are actually socially far more connected than we ever were - just not in person, but via facebook, twitter, sms, etc. Now, we might say, that this is not the same, but then thats the same as the people back in eary 20th century said that no-one needs a car or a phone - you can just walk or ride there or write a letter. And I'm pretty sure that our parents did'nt quite understand at all why anyone would ever need a computer or a cell-phone. I think one can go back quite a while and see how the advent of new technologies has changed how people interact with each other in in general conduct their lives. And I'm also pretty sure that for many generations, parents bemoaned the fact that 'the good old days' are gone. The one thing that I do believe is changing, is the cycle time of new technologies. It took I think some 30 years or more to have 25% of the US population with TV. But only 7 to get a cell-phone. However 'a generation' of human life is still round-about 30 years. So relative to our life-span, the impact of technology in how we live our life as drastically increased - we have n-times more change in technology per unit of life (say a decade) today than we had 50 years ago. Which, btw, all boils down to the exponential impact of Moores law and its derivatives. If you like looking at charts for this, Ray Kurzweil and his books and presentations (can be found via Google :-) ) have plenty of hard data for this.

Cheers

Peter

#74

David and Allen and Peter, all well said! Thanks.

My current thrill is re-purposing my 12c+, with Katie's help. Katie re-purposed it to be a base 12 machine, and I took her code and modified it to create a base 16 machine that does arithmetic in base 16, complete with a display of the hex letters, ala 16c. You've never seen this on a 12c before!


#75

Hi Don,

great to see this! Looks like another repurposing project. For sure you reassigned some keys of this calc allowing you to reach this display. Any details available?


#76

Walter, here is the C++ code from Katie that I modified to get the hex characters on the 12c+. Cyrille has already defined the lcd segment pattern for several letters in one of the other files in the development environment. My 12c+ will now do hex arithmetic, using the TVM keys and CHS as ABCDEF. Unfortunately, it won't do anything else! But, hey, this is way cool.

I have learned that repurposing is not easy. It took installation of an older SDK from IAR and about 150 emails (exaggerating only slightly) and several phone conversations with Katie to get this little thing to work. If you already know C++, it will help. But this is a good way to learn it!

#77

Quote:


Is anyone familiar with the undergraduate level chemistry text, Experiments in Physical Chemistry by Shoemaker and Garland and another person depending on edition?

When I first got it for *COLLEGE*, the third guy was Steinfeld, and there was a page on programming a... get this... HP-45 to a least squares fitting of your data! Now, there were no more HP-45's (except as "vintage" among collectors, I suppose) sold by the time I got to college, and the page looked like it was lifted by the authors from an earlier edition of their own book.


And, it seems to me that programming as we know it... ahem, as *I* know it... might be brushed aside by the likes of LabVIEW. The GUI takes over the universe, with his henchmen the mouseclick and drag'n'drop!!! To books... or, er, was that, arms?... old folks! We are under siege!


Hello,

I am familiar with it, and I keep a copy, given to me by a friend back in university days.

Mine is Shoemaker and Garland only, and includes methods to check computations using,IIRC, the rule of 9's; there was also advise on keeping significant figures, tracking the decimal point on a slide rule. The section ended with notes on using HP precision timers. An old edition, it seems. Last but not least, another section detailed guidelines on report contents and style, which are still useful to me.

We do not check calculations anymore, and too often I find young engineers who are unable to keep significant figures or make reasonable guesses. Computing power has become too cheap, too accessible, and too many people take it for granted.


JuanJ


#78

Juan, I am of the calculator generation; my high school class was the first in my high school allowed to use calcs for exams.

An older colleague is of the slide rule generation (though he claims he first did math with chisel and stone tablet) and he can make quick estimates before people my age can finish it in our heads, and before those even younger can get started figuring what the problem was, and I'm not joking.

I will say that misuse of the calculator, particularly in secondary and earlier educational levels have ruined the ability for the present generation to quickly size up things mathematically... in general. I'm sure (hope??) there are exceptions.


#79

Hello Ed,

Although I am a late comer of sorts, I belong to the calculator generation as well.

Loke you, I have met people able to figure out estimates before I can finish calculations in my head. It never ocurred to me that it would become even worse. But it has.

A calculator is but your brain's extension, nothing else. It deals with the repetitive stuff out for you, allowing you to work smarter. Sadly, this is misinterpreted today and a calculator is deemed as a black box that thinks and provides answers.


JuanJ

#80

Quote:
An older colleague is of the slide rule generation (though he claims he first did math with chisel and stone tablet) and he can make quick estimates before people my age can finish it in our heads, and before those even younger can get started figuring what the problem was, and I'm not joking.

I never used a chisel and a stone tablet but I did do a lot of pencil and paper arithmetic in high school in the mid 1940's. We were expected to multiply six to eight digit numbers and get the exact answers. Now, that was dogwork, but it did eestablish an ability to do arithmetic accurately. I was in a small school with only 55 in my graduatiing class. I didn't take trigonometry or solid geometry in high school because the school had a minimum class size of ten and that was hard to meet. When I was a junior some seniors came up with the idea to let some of the better juniors double up in math by taking advanced algebra and trigonomtry in the same year as a way to get enough trigonometry students. But we still could only get nine.

After Sputnik there was a push to get more mathematics in the lower grades but some of the effort was not well done. My wife was teaching fifth graqd in an Ohio school system in 1966-67. The system provided some assistance with the idea of estimation. My wife came home totally frustrated because in trying to encourage the students the instructor called every estimate a "good" estimate, where "good" apparently meant as good as the partiular student could manage.


#81

Palmer- And as we can see now even in the news, this problem is now out of control. Some entire school systems have toyed with not grading or flunking kids for fear of wounding their self-esteem. Do you deserve self-esteem if you can't divide... by hand?

To use your intellect is the most human, most basically human of things. If you do not develop your mind, and mathematics is only a small part of that, then that much of your personhood is stunted.

Feeling good does not necessarily contribute to this.

I hope someday soon this can be changed. It seems, too, that necessity is not necessarily the mother of invention...

Juan- I tell students to try to NOT just consider devices, especially convenient ones, as merely black boxes that do their magic and one doesn't have to understand, but that to be truly educated, whatever their major, they should at least have some somewhat more than rudimentary understanding of how things might work.

Consider computers on science fiction shows, or analytical instrumentation on a police show. Generally, someone punches in some data, or nowadays, scans it in, and then way before the next commercial break, the machine spits out the very useful and cool results. Most people seem to treat their things that way. What do most users know about their cell phones, televisions, computers, or what do most students know about their calculators? And if one day it stops connecting you to your friend in another city, stops bringing you your favorite show, stops getting you to your online game, or spitting out the answer to the test question, what do you do? Granted most of today's devices cannot truly be repaired from home, this attitude denies one of even the slightest chance of being able to something for oneself.

Everyone- I suppose this is one reason why I like scientific programmable or even graphing calculators; they are small and light enough to hold in my hand, bring anywhere, and programming them reduces some of that impenetrable black box quality I might have attributed to them. I'm not really any kind of true programmer, but maybe this is why I like programming (I hate debugging, but that's another matter).

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

#82

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Years ago in primary school kids learned basic math: add, subtract, multiply, divide, etc. and computers were learned and used by the college kids at the universities. Now it's reversed: they learn to use computers in primary school, and we have to teach basic math to our college kids. Sad.

I don't believe that it was so good years ago. At the University of Minnesota in 1949 I was asked to help tutor a student in physics. I agreed only to find out that she was enrolled in "Physics without Mathematics". How does one study physics without mathematics? One teaches at the elementary general science level; i.e., hot air rises, water runs down hill, etc.

When I was in Navy OCS in 1953 I was asked to help a college graduate with celestial navigation. We weren't studying the basics but rather were learning to make the appropriate measurements with a sextant and obtain the solution using tables and working our way through a printed form. I managed to get the student to solve some of the early textbook problems. Then we had a problem in which interpolation between the entries in the tables was required and the student exclaimed "I've never been able to do fractions."

I believe that too many students continue to be moved through the education system without learning to master even basic arithmetic and the presence of calculators in the elementary and high school classrooms doesn't materially affect that situation one way or another. It may serve to help them balance their checkbooks. I also believe that the presence of calculators is appropriate and helpful in the advanced classes taken by students planning to study engineering and the sciences in college, just as it was useful and appropriate for them to use slide rules in earlier days.


#83

Palmer, given the year you cited, I find the story about the college grad and his issues with fractions not so easy to believe!


#84

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Palmer, given the year you cited, I find the story about the college grad and his issues with fractions not so easy to believe!

I suspect that I should have continued the story to explain that I found that the individual could do the simple fractions associated with interpolation but struggled with more complicated fractional expressions; for example something such as 4/15 - 1/7 . But even though he could do the simple fractions he still struggled with the very concept of interpolation.

At the time I didn't find the situation "not so easy to believe" because of an earlier incident as a teaching assistant at the University of Minnesota in 1951. I found that a trigonometry student (actually two of them from the same high school) seemed to understand trigonometric concepts but couldn't get the correct answers to the problems which involved using the log and log-trig tables. His problem was that he couldn't do the addition and subtraction with any consistency.

There is a a lot of material in this forum which I find "not so easy to believe". Examples: inability to agree on the value of -3^2; inability to cope with parentheses; inability to cope with an ENTER key of a different shape or in a different position; and on and on.

A different example is the story of the Spitfires which didn't reach Malta which appeared in the earlier thread on Metric versus U.S. I had been a bit of a buff about WW II aircraft and something about the story made me uneasy. Some research showed me that the aircraft involved were probably Hawker Hurricanes rather than Supermarine Spitfires.


#85

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There is a a lot of material in this forum which I find "not so easy to believe". Examples: inability to agree on the value of -3^2; inability to cope with parentheses; inability to cope with an ENTER key of a different shape or in a different position; and on and on.

These are great!

Oh, that damned unary minus thing. I have a teacher in my child's school who insists that subtraction is not the same as a negative number and insists on writing them differently. Ugh!
(That is what I have always detested about the 32sii and its progeny the 33s & 35s. There is nothing useful or even consistent about the "high" minus sign and the "subtraction"--or whatever they call them--in these machines. We can't always worship every HP product or every part of one...)


Edited: 11 Feb 2010, 10:42 p.m.


#86

I know an intelligent little girl, who is now a college student, who years back in junior high/high school argued with her mother over a math problem. Her mother, graduated with a degree in mathematical physics major at a very distinguished university, happened to notice an incorrect approach to a problem. She tried to explain the correct method to her daughter, who essentially just folded her arms and declared that this was what the teacher showed her and that the teacher must be right and knows more than her mother.

Believe it or not, the mother lost the "argument".


#87

Quote:
I know an intelligent little girl, who is now a college student, who years back in junior high/high school argued with her mother over a math problem. Her mother, graduated with a degree in mathematical physics major at a very distinguished university, happened to notice an incorrect approach to a problem. She tried to explain the correct method to her daughter, who essentially just folded her arms and declared that this was what the teacher showed her and that the teacher must be right and knows more than her mother.

Believe it or not, the mother lost the "argument".


Now that's a story that is really easy to believe, and from two points of view.

First, "a graduate with a degree in mathematical physics major at a very distinguished university" is likely to be a pedant, particularly when dealing with individuals that she perceives as being her inferiors, and she is also highly likely to even understand that she is a pedant. See the Big Bang show on Monday nights on CBS.

Second, the daughter was hardly the first child in all of history to challenge parental authority.


#88

Quote:
Second, the daughter was hardly the first child in all of history to challenge parental authority.

That's for sure! That story is so familiar. I showed it to my wife as we're forever in such arguments with our 9 year old daughter.

Edited: 12 Feb 2010, 5:03 a.m.

#89

Quote:
She tried to explain the correct method to her daughter, who essentially just folded her arms and declared that this was what the teacher showed her and that the teacher must be right and knows more than her mother.

Well not surprising kids believing the teacher. I always questioned my teachers. I hope to raise my kids the same way.

"Question everything, assume nothing, and by God learn something for yourself"

Dimitri

#90

Quote:
That is what I have always detested about the 32sii and its progeny the 33s & 35s. There is nothing useful or even consistent about the "high" minus sign and the "subtraction"--or whatever they call them--in these machines

I don't have a 33s or 35s handy at the moment, but on the 32sii I only see the difference in the exponent and in program mode when you enter a negative number. I like the high "-" sign in the exponent I think that's easier to read. In program mode, it's extremely rare to need a negative number and small integers are much more memory efficient if entered as [##] [+/-].

-Katie


#91

Hi Katie:

The dumb part appears in the equation editor. In fact, the 32sii formally invokes a "unary minus" which takes precedence over exponentiation. However there is a bug with it and it doesn't work correctly when the unary minus is the leading digit (or something like that--I think Craig Finseth has it well-described).

see http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/bpia5305.pdf page 104

compare to http://h10032.www1.hp.com/ctg/Manual/c00059731.pdf page 106--one good thing about the 33s is that they got rid of the unary minus precedence. But they kept the confusing idea of minus sign being different from subtraction.

In one or both of these models, hitting +/- is supposed to invoke the "high minus" but it isn't consistent--and the LCD is partially to blame: the initial position doesn't have the same pixels as the rest of the screen.

Edited: 12 Feb 2010, 11:13 a.m.


#92

Ah yes, the very funky equation editor. I never really liked the idea of having an algebraic equation solver on an RPN calculator anyway. The 42s implemented the solver the "right" way.

-Katie


#93

...and the 27s implemented the solver the right "other" way.

27s sign handling is simple and effective. So is 48 series, though slightly different (the parsing from command line is slightly different):

48G:  type: '48---6' and <ENTER>
parsed to line 1: '48-6'
27s command line: type: 48--- and when you type the third minus, it
reverts to a single minus (it toggles)
27s solver: type: A=48---6xL
it stays that way--the signs negate out and solve correctly.

48G: type '48-6 and then use +/- to toggle the sign of |6|
27s command line: type: 48-6 and use +/- to toggle a single or double
minus ahead of |6|
27s solver: +/- key is invalid. {as it should be!}

Best regards,
Bill

Edited: 12 Feb 2010, 12:28 p.m.

#94

Quote:
Oh, that damned unary minus thing.

Unfortunately, I can't provide any references, but I seem to remember that every single book on programming and compiler design I read when I was a kid unanimously stated that unary minus had higher precedence than everything else, and even as a 14-year old I couldn't help noticing that *mathematics* textbooks did not follow that convention, e.g.

I've never seen a math textbook that omitted the parentheses around the -1 in formulae like that. I suspect some compiler pioneer once created a parser that had the bogus unary minus implementation, probably based on the idea that the minus is part of the number, and hordes of parser and textbook writers since then simply copied that mistake.


#95

Hi Thomas,

That's it! It makes sense!

I've wondered this forever--how on earth did the calculator design get all flubbed up with unary minus? It looks like you've found the One Little "Bug" that refuses to die.

Maybe that first compiler writer hated parenthesis. Uh-oh I better not go there...;-)

It's funny you should mention the maths textbook thing, because the last time this unary minus ended up being discussed here in a very long thread (with some defending the unary minus and others opposing) I went and pulled all my maths books down, all the way back to the algebra books and found just what you did: to a man, all the mathematicians put a parenthesis if they want that sign to have precedence. In fact it wasn't even discussed as such. Why should it be: of course powers have precedence over subtraction: powers are repetitive multiplication as in a^3 = a*a*a and so -a^3 is -(a*a*a)because of that fundamental law of algebra etc...


Edited: 16 Feb 2010, 11:03 a.m.

#96

Mathophobes weren't invented yesterday. Art History has always been a popular course of study for the numerically challenged trust-funder.


#97

Yeah, but what business do mathophobes have working with celestial navigation??


#98

Quote:
Yeah, but what business do mathophobes have working with celestial navigation??

The incident that I described happened during the Korean War. That was the last war in which nearly everyone participated. In the next war in Viet Nam Lyndon Johnson chose the "guns and butter" approach". How did that turn out?

#99

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Quote:
Well, we might have never had to have fought in Viet Nam if we'd stayed in Korea and finished the job. ..."

Sounds a lot like "Dugout Doug" talking!

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Quote:
Actually it was a French war correspondent, Bernard Fall, who pointed out the facts to me in his book, "hell in a very small place"

Is a French war correspondent a good source for "facts" about the effects of what happened at Dien Bien Phu? At the time the Chinese Communists had been fought to a standstill in Korea and the British were winning the battle in Malaysia. The fall of Dien Bien Phu was considered to be the result of a poor choice of a battleground based on a bad estimate of the enemy's capabilities. Some analysts consider the loss at Dien Bien Phu to signal the end of French influence as an effective fighting force. Encyclopedia Britannica offers the following
Quote:
... In the spirit of the Truman Doctrine the United States had been pouring in aid for the anti-Communist cause, and in the end was largely financing the war while French, colonial. and French-led Indochinese troops did the fighting. There were many promises by the French commanders that the war could be won; but the situation became progressively more hopeless until, with the fall of the fortress at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, it was irretrievable.

where I admit that the phrase "many promises by the French commanders that the war could be won" sounds a lot like what happened to us later.


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