Basic Operations


Recently, I was looking for the rectangular/polar conversion keys on my HP-49G+, only to find that they don't exist. That made me think about what the base level features of a scientific calculator should be. Looking back through older HP models, ->R and ->P seem to be present on just about every basic scientific calculator made after the HP-35, even on the bare-bones HP-21. ->RAD, ->DEG, ->H, and ->H.MS are also available on most models. These features are also available on TI's bottom of the line scientific calculator, the TI-30Xa.

What functions should be in the basic set of operations, either on the keyboard or easily available through menus?


Hi, John;

I remember having some considerations like yours, and I guess that we can get a "trip back in time" and see how did Engineering needs change. Many things heppened since the first slide rule became available, and I mention the slide rule because some TI calculators in fact had a SR (Slide Rule) product code, meaning they intended to be electronic slide rules. Believe me, I was talking about these very subjects a few days ago with my coleages at the university.

About the rectangular to polar conversion. I consider that the conversion itself is only needed for a few purposes, like seeing one or other representation. Either rectangular or polar are a pair of numbers refering to an entity: a coordinate, a complex number, etc. What the HP4x series designers assumed (engineers, I guess) is that converting from one representation to another one as mostly a matter of viewing mode, and retrieving any component without the need of converting or being in one specific mode (ABS, ARG, RE, IM) would lead to new approaches. Everytime I use an HP4x to deal with complex numbers I remember(sometimes after a few trial and error) taht this is the way they (HP4x) do.

Just my opinion, of course.


Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 24 Aug 2004, 1:49 p.m.

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