48G+ or not for calculus



#2

I am getting ready to begin my first calculus class soon. I am not a 'natural whiz' mathematically speaking. My thinking has been I want to use my 48G+ for the class so that I don't become dependant on the CAS that my 49G+ and TI 89 have (in other words I want to learn the math not just the calculator). Does anyone think I will be disadvantaging myself or will it be beneficial in the long run to use the 48. Seems like it didn't hurt a lot of the older HP generation who didn't have a CAS.


#3

In my opinion, a CAS calculator can help a lot - as long as you have the self control to learn the theory before relying on a calculator. Seeing you posted this question, I'll bet that you do.

"Seems like it didn't hurt a lot of the older HP generation who didn't have a CAS."

Yes, but they weren't competing with classmates who did have CAS machines.

#4

Use your TI89 to help you learn calculus, as well as any solutions manual to your text, and individual help you professor can give you. As your abilities progress, you will discover just how limited the 48 is in doing many things symbolically. That's why the 49 was produced, and why the TI89 reigns supreme - it is the best handheld in this field. A true pc based computer algebra system, such as Maple, can also be of great help. I'm so glad I'm long done with all my engineering math classes, they were a lot of work. Best of luck!

#5

Hi, Jeff;

this book has many good approaches on using the HP48G as a calculus companion:

MATHEWS, J., EIDSWICK, J.,An HP48G Calculus Companion. New York, NY. 1994, HarperCollins College Publishers. 320p.

As it is mainly dedicated to the HP48G, no CAS features are explored (none at the time it was printed, I guess), but you'll see many ways of dealing with calculus by using the HP48G 'power'.

I'm a teacher (local university, Brazilian citty) and I saw many different reactions on using a calculator or not in classroom. In your case, I guess that I'd quote 'dot's' words:

Quote:
In my opinion, a CAS calculator can help a lot - as long as you have the self control to learn the theory before relying on a calculator. Seeing you posted this question, I'll bet that you do.

Success!

Luiz (Brazil)

Edited: 6 Feb 2005, 6:04 a.m.

#6

I think I used my calculator just a couple of times in calculus class. You probably won't need it, either, unless you want to see graphs of volumes or something like that. The best, least frustrating way to learn calculus is to do every problem in the book. THEN whip out the caclulator and harness the magic...

#7

If, as you say, you want "to learn the math, not just the calculator" then do yourself a favor and leave the calculator at home.

Exercise your mind, not your fingers.

Been there, done that, 20 years before 4-function calculators were invented.

David


#8

"If, as you say, you want "to learn the math, not just the calculator" then do yourself a favor and leave the calculator at home."

The problem is Jeff K said "I am getting ready to begin my first calculus class soon. "

That he wants to learn is admirable. However leaving all calculators at home will give him a huge disadvantage compared to his peers. They will probably have at least some form of calculator; perhaps a CAS machine like a TI89. His teacher will almost certainly expect him to have some form of calculating device.

Not even having a '4-banger' will slow Jeff down and get him bogged down in arithmetic. For someone who is not a "'natural whiz' mathematically speaking." this would be torture.


#9

My advice stands. If you want to learn calculus then go to class, read the textbook and learn the fundamentals. Then, after you know why and how things produce results, you might use the calculator to speed things up. Knowing how and why determinants work, or how integration produces an answer, or why differentation does what it does is far different from simply pressing keys and reading a final result.

Once you learn how to do something, then you can use tools to make it easier.

As far as being disadvantaged compared with your peers, I think the opposite will be true. You will get the same results but will have a greater basic knowledge, knowing how you got there.

BTW, when I first attended Carnegie Tech (now CMU) the only tools I had were a slide rule and a pencil. I learned how to manually do everything this calculator can do and it wasn't really so time consuming. Granted, we used a lot more paper, but paper is cheap. How many of you can compute square and cube roots with only pencil and paper, and not using approximation methods?

I suspect that most readers of this forum are far to young to remember, know or care that the fastest plane in the world - the SR-71 - and the rockets that put Americans on the moon, were designed and built using slide rules, pencils and paper, not hand held calculators or computors.

Exercise your minds, not your fingers.


#10

Hi david,

I have told this story before, but here it is:

In 1983, I was the only one in my whole high school with an HP (11c). One day, it fell off the desk (in health class--why I don't know) and broke the display.

I was in physics class, and had an exam to take, and my teacher had a big Pickett slide rule above the chalk board. I asked him if I could borrow a small one for the test. He looked at me sideways--expecting this to be a prank but he gave me one, a cheap Sterling, anyway. I still have it.

I aced the exam. I didn't get my calculator back for months. The slide rule was more than a match for the calculator for general work--it even has a built in memory for chain calculations;-).

I also had a friend and ally on the faculty for life!

SO, some of us youngsters do know how to use slide rules.

But the point is that the calculator is far less useful than you think---it is convenient, yes. But earth-shattering important? No. The real work is always in the head. And slide rules aren't slow at all for general number-crunching. Calculators only begin to really shine with programs (of course you have to compare proficient users).

Regards,

Bill

David: 1234 to delete

Edited: 7 Feb 2005, 4:06 p.m.


#11

> > "Seems like it didn't hurt a lot of the older HP generation who didn't have a CAS."

> Yes, but they weren't competing with classmates who did have CAS machines.

In my first physics class I was the only one to still be using a slide rule. I always finished tests first and was the only one to get perfect scores.

One of our sons recently had a math class in high school where the students were supposedly required to have a certain TI graphing calculator. I doubted that it was really necessary, so we just went from week to week without getting him one, checking his progress. The little difficulty he did have was not related to any lack of a graphing calculator. He finished the year just fine without one. He said the students who had them mostly used them for playing games in class while trying to keep the teacher from knowing. I never could see the logic behind the idea that you could learn to do the work by having something relieve you of it (even for my own calculus classes 25+ years ago, if such a calculator had been available).


#12

I will concur with David, Bill, and Garth. The calculator is a tool (even though I love collecting them), but the tool is much more useful if you know the calculation yourself. It does the student the best to do the problem on pencil/pen and paper (or chalkboard, etc) first before resorting to the calculator.

By the way, during high school, CAS calcualtors were not even around (1991-1995).

#13

David,

When were you at Carnegie Tech? I graduated from there (BS, Physics) the year they changed the name to CMU: 1968.

We got along fine in physics courses with just our (three digit accuracy) slide rules, and I never even THOUGHT of needing it for calculus (and of course, even 4-bangers weren't available until a few years later).

Dave


#14

Dave,

I was there from 1957 to 1960. Thinking about the last couple of postings here, I'm thinking that if I had had access to the IBM (560 model, I think) at CIT when I was there, I probably would have taken advantage of it and forsaken the K&E. That said, maybe I shouldn't be so hard on those using their HPs in class. But I still think that learning the theory completely is better than jumping in with a short cut.

I could be wrong (again) but it seems to me that more people are too willimg to take any shortcut available, just to get by. Anyway, if someone is taking a class they have no interest in just for the credit, then go for it. Use the calculator, get the grade and feel good about yourself. On the other hand, if you're taking the class because it's necessary for your future career, then save the calculator for when you get the job.

Just my opinion and I apologize for any toes I've stepped on or hard feelings I've caused.

David

#15

Hi Jeff. For what it's worth my daughter finished her first university calculus class last fall. She said that she used a four function calculator one time at the end of the semester to check her professor's calculation of her final grade.

I hope that this helps.

Good luck,

John


#16

Thanks for the insights.

#17

As my calc prof told me- "learn math now, and secretarial skills when you have begun working."

It was good advice. Depending on your major, engineering? mathematics? physics? ...I feel that you'd still benefit from learning the calculus using a pencil and paper. Or use it as a tool to experiment once you can do it longhand.

After all, you can actually generate the integral tables found in text books using.....!! Calculus! The machine will be useful later when you have to crunch numbers, but the struggle now will pay off.

Eric


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