An argument for simple rpn non-graph in university



#17

I've come to the conclusion that since computers (unix, PC, mac) are abundant at universities, along with code like MATLAB, C, Fortran, VBA languages...why not abandon graphing calculators?

Instead, students could utilize some form of what is offered by the 33s. This is complex enough to allow programming, but not so specialized that you are isolated from mainstream code barriers.

I really do not need the 48G/49G+ machines on exams, in fact, I seem to do better with the simpler 32sii/33s machines. Also, common functions (natural log) are primary keys on these machines.

Thoughts?
ECL


#18

To each his own. I'm grateful that we (still) don't live in a world where there is just one way to do it right.

Thomas


#19

You got the point! There are markets for both lines, graphic calcs and pocket calcs, in the technical area at least. As long as you can do, choose according to your requirements and enjoy you have the choice. If you don't have it, think about a change ... ;-)

#20

ECL

You have a very good point. In fact in the last HHC2005 in Chicago there was a brief and informal discussion about the possibility that sophisticated calculators will become extinct. The reasons you mentioned (using software like MATLAB, MAPLE, SPSS, MINITAB, and so on) makes the calculators inferior tools for what I call "big-gun" jobs. I have recently gotten into MATLAB, SPSS, MINITAB, and a few others and am able to do calculations that I had dreamed of in the past!!! As I play with BASIC programming on the HP-71B I realize how limited the old calculators are.

I guess that our attachement to these machines is notalgic. Besides, they are familiar and relatively simple to use. Their limited resources did challenge our intellegence to squeeze in programs with the calculator's limited memory and programming steps.

Cheers,

Namir


#21

ECL - try 'R' a great free alternative ( very extensive ) stats language http://www.r-project.org/ syntax is MATLAB like.

At university ( ok - a few years ago ) all ALPHA capable calculators were banned so my HP41CX was no longer acceptable.

The HP15C was the best substitute available - with complex number handling ( rather handy for electrical engineering students). I still regularly use this calculator today as I keept it just incase I ever needed to sit any further exams.

There is a movement calling for a HP15C update from HP http://hp15c.org/ ( the first URL returned when googling HP15C ).

For non graphic needs, it's almost ideal - unmatched ergonomics and size and 10 year battery life. Check the eBay prices for this calc !!

The only thing that needed improvment was it's inability to store the complex numbers coupled together in memory. This had a knock on effect with complex matrix handling which required a rather primative set of transformations to be done to multiply two partitioned [Re Im] matrices which formed the complex matrices.

Today these problems could easily be overcome and a new variant with more memory produced.

I would buy an upgrade immediately if one were available - those HP49 keys eeeugh!
As for the HP33s - what is it with the 'V' shaped keyboard ?

#22

It's not obvious that very capable CAS are the way of the future.
It is not common or desirable to handle multiple-page equations, and those packages are used exactly for that. I have heard of published proofs where single equations were spread across more than 10 pages. Most "real" problems are quite simple actually.
On the other hand, it is very easy to state one-line problems that those CAS can't solve. Example : "find the triangle with integer sides and surface, whose perimeter is maximum, and whose surface is less than 100000".
Either you use the grey matter for the most part, or ou write a 'brute force' program, but there is no way to input the problem in a CAS semi-exactly as stated, and get results (to my knowledge).

#23

If you go to any college where technical subjects are taught, from chemistry to physics to engineering, a fast, accurate, powerful and portable machine is highly prized. And what do you see on study tables, lab benches, in test halls? Most likely it will be a TI89, probably the most useful, powerful hand-held produced so far. Sadly, HPs are seldom seen in US colleges nowadays.

Sales figures back this up: TI has sold over 30 million graphing calculators in the last decade, and growing daily. Do some arithmetic, at an average $100 per unit, no wonder TI's calculator division is one of the most profitable ever. There's even a joke in the electronics industry about TI employees saying "We make other great stuff besides calculators!"

While there is a wealth of great computer programs out there, there is no substitute for something like a TI89 or HP48/49. For there are still situations where you often don't have or can't carry a pc with you, and they don't have the quick interface of a calculator. From a student studying in the library to a surveyor in the field, there is nothing that beats a great calculator.


#24

Hi I Claudius,

Absolutely agree with you...

DW


#25

Graphing calculators have too small and too low resolution screens to be useful for graphing. A PC would be a much better tool.

#26

Ah, Don, we finally agree on something. This forum does more for international relations than the UN. Perhaps it's that politicians are rarely nerds, and lack the capacity to experience the joy of a great calculator! :-)

#27

Quote:
Sales figures back this up: TI has sold over 30 million graphing calculators in the last decade, and growing daily.

This is because of the "wow" factor though, not anything practical. Our older son said a lot of students in his math classes had them, and the only thing they used the graphics for was games. Yes, games-- which to me is a total waste of computing power! (I realize some will disagree.) The real class work did not benefit at all from the graphics, even though graphics improve sales. As an electronics engineer, I use my 41cx daily, but virtually never have any desire that it would do graphics, let alone color. I use the PC graphics for printed circuit board CAD and looking at data sheets and product info, jobs that would be quite impractical on a 2" screen.


#28

Quote:


This is because of the "wow" factor though, not anything practical. Our older son said a lot of students in his math classes had them, and the only thing they used the graphics for was games. Yes, games-- which to me is a total waste of computing power! (I realize some will disagree.) The real class work did not benefit at all from the graphics, even though graphics improve sales. As an electronics engineer, I use my 41cx daily, but virtually never have any desire that it would do graphics, let alone color. I use the PC graphics for printed circuit board CAD and looking at data sheets and product info, jobs that would be quite impractical on a 2" screen.


In my experience, the calculators were bought not for the "wow" factor, but because the "required materials" list included "TI-83/84" graphing calculator. My precalc class actually uses the graphing calculators often, for simple things, such as linear regression, and max/min/inflection. And yes, everyone has games, so much, that the schools' math department circulated a rumor that "MirageOS", which is a popular shell for games, was a virus that destroyed your calculator. It worked.
#29

In my personal experience, it's hard to beat a PC for real-world problems, including graphing. However, compared to a laptop, a new HP 49G+ (wtih ROM 2.00) is very hard to beat (and there is no more keypad problems with this update). I never use mine for graphing anything, but enjoy the larger screen for viewing more information, larger equations, matrices, etc. For those who use it primarily for games, what a waste! They're okay for airport terminals, etc. when you need to pass the time. For anyone interested only in a full-on effecient calculator experience, I believe that it's hard to beat one 49G+ and one 33S (or other Pioneer suited to your work or preference, e.g., 20S, 21S, 22S, 27S, 32S, 42S, etc). The "stretch" Pioneers (48 series) may have been on top for a long time, but I believe the 49G+ will be a better model in the long run due to sheer speed, memory, and better CAS, oh, and not to mention far better screen resolution.


#30

Quote:
In my personal experience, it's hard to beat a PC for real-world problems, including graphing. However, compared to a laptop, a new HP 49G+ (wtih ROM 2.00) is very hard to beat (and there is no more keypad problems with this update). I never use mine for graphing anything, but enjoy the larger screen for viewing more information, larger equations, matrices, etc. For those who use it primarily for games, what a waste! They're okay for airport terminals, etc. when you need to pass the time. For anyone interested only in a full-on effecient calculator experience, I believe that it's hard to beat one 49G+ and one 33S (or other Pioneer suited to your work or preference, e.g., 20S, 21S, 22S, 27S, 32S, 42S, etc). The "stretch" Pioneers (48 series) may have been on top for a long time, but I believe the 49G+ will be a better model in the long run due to sheer speed, memory, and better CAS, oh, and not to mention far better screen resolution.

I don't think graphing calculators are meant to replace PCs; their meant to be a portable, durable (droppable) math tool, unlike a laptop, which would be a pain to haul around. I have no experience with the 48s and 49s, (I'm thinking of a 48GII, how is it?) but I do have a TI86 and TI89TI, which are excellent at calculating, assuming you don't mind algabraic. Obviously, something like Mathmatica is going to beat it, but that's like saying an Indycar is better than a pickup truck. They're not meant to compete.

#31

I think we're saying the same thing. For the working professional that needs something small, portable, powerful, and programmable, it's hard to beat something like a new 49G+ compared to a laptop.

#32

How nice you have no more keyboard problems with ROM 2.0! How recent is your hardware, ie, serial number of your 49+? After several bad units, I'm very hesitant to buy one again until I'm sure build quality is as it should be with the 49+.

#33

a "basic" calculator would have been like being in hell; the 48GX saved me more than one time when doing thermodynamics (talking about units) and everything else as well - trying to find some zero values in functions could be a pain - or you could just draw a graph

any student without such a "beast" is either a genius or plain stupid

(I agree you probably won't need it during pure math studies, but as soon as you need "numbers" you can't beat these calcs...)

And: they really fit into a pocket or onto your desk; using a laptop is possible (with Mathematica e.g.) but impractical for quick access.

(Funny sidenote: a simple 4-banger does everything I need now, but, heck, I *could* ;) )


#34

Hee hee hee, Herr Boehm!

We used to do that stuff with the HP-34C; units were science fiction for calculators in those days.

Anyway, I use a combination of the 48G and 33S on the job and at home, where I know they are safe, I use the 48G+ (sometimes the 49G+) and 32SII. The pure scientific programmables I use for quick calculations and even some simpler (I mean VERY simple) programs (cheapie stuff like coverting eV to nm, etc.), but for some more involved things that require a bit more memory, or programming lines (something that might help index a x-ray powder pattern) but not so pressing that I need to go to the PC or mainframe, I use the graphing calculators...

... but I do not graph anything on any calculator! I use them as glorified, bigger, slightly more powerful scientific programmables.

Besides, graphing stuff uses up the batteries faster! ;)

#35

Personally, I use Matlab and/or Mathematica and/or Maple just about every day, but I still find myself reaching for my 49g+ and very often I find myself wishing for my 33s (or other generic scientific calculator... my 33s is at home:( )

CAS software is nice for doing big things, but it is almost always quicker and easier to do arithmetic and to solve numeric equations involving lots of inputs (I am really loving the numeric equation solver on the 49g+) on a calculator. As straightforward as programming in Matlab, I have been wishing for keystroke programming for some quick stuff from time to time.

I don't think the calculator is ready to die just yet, but it's time will probably come eventually.

#36

What about cost? Even with academic licensing, the bill for the computer and the software can be excessive. If you aren't eligible for academic licensing, the cost can be very high.


#37

Although the cost of software and computer are quite high, if you can afford to pay tuition and book you should be able to afford computer and software.


#38

Not necessarily. The best argument for this would be a CAD class, where the hardware needed, 2 GB of memory on up, a top flight chipset and graphics card make the computer alone very expensive. The student editions of the two most popular CAD programs aren't cheap, and the professional versions being many thousands of dollars. Here, obviously the student is going to use school computers to complete his assignments, and not buy a $3000 pc, unless he's wealthy.

In the case of most math programs, they will run just fine on lesser and older cheap computers. Unless the machine is a laptop, it's just not portable. And almost every engineering professor I ever knew had a rule: no computers allowed on tests, calculators were OK. Some math professors go so far as to allow no calculator, but that's the pure math hoop we all had to jump through at some point or another.

So what is the first choice of technology purchase for a math / engineering student on a budget? He'll buy a calculator from the cheapest place possible, eBay, Walmart, etc. and use it almost exclusively. And that's just how TI has cashed in big time, by providing good quality high end graphing calculators, which have become the standard. HPs are a true rarity in education now.

#39

If you are a student, you can usually obtain an academic licence. And, if the evidence of p2p file-sharing networks is to be believed, most students aren't too fussed about licences anyway.

On the other hand, I occasionally dabble in physics and maths as an intellectual exercise, mainly revisiting things I studied at university thirty years ago. For occasional use, tools like Mathcad and Mathematica are simply too expensive. So I get by with a drawerful of calcs and open-source tools like Octave.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


#40

I have several math programs. For money spent, the best is Scientific Workplace, from Mackichan Software. They also have a version called Scientific Notebook, which I think is available to anyone for a mere $200, $100 for a student. These programs are terrific for What You See Is What You Get typesetting plus the CAS, MuPad 3.1, isn't Mathematica but is still quite good. By the way, I've tried MathCad, found it to be quite lacking, almost a joke.


#41

Hmmm. I almost had a heart attack when I saw Scientific Workplace as $A1240 here, but Scientific Notebook is only $A345. Still, for the roughly 1 hour a week I get to play with this stuff, I think I'll just stick with my calcs, etc. I'm always wary of people whose tools outclass their abilities (e.g. crap guitarists with expensive stratocasters) and wouldn't want to make my position any worse with regard to mathematical toys. ;)

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


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