Intro + Graphing Calculator with CAS --- Questions



#30

Hi there. My name is Hannah and I'm new to the forum. I'm currently a junior in high school and I figured I might be able to get an answer or two about calculators; graphing ones in particular.

The model I'm currently using is a TI 84 Plus Silver Edition, despite the school using TI 89s; Only reason why I have an 84 is because I transferred after buying it and refused to spend $150 or so a year after getting one that cost nearly as much. Although, I'm currently contemplating getting one that has the features of an 89, namely the CAS. I've looked at HP's offerings and wanted to know which would be the better option --- the 48gII, the 50g, or *cringes* pay the outrageous amount and get an 89. The main reason I considered HP is because I have a scientific model, the 30S, and it's been an amazing calculator since I got it 4 years ago.

If anyone has some advice, I'd be a very happy girl. Thank you! (-:0


#31

While many people on this forum have a variety of opinions on when calculators should, or shouldn't, be used in education, I'll try to stick to the question.

If you are going to buy a new calculator, I would suggest going with the 50g. It is better quality, and considerably more powerful than the 48gII, but it also come at a higher price (slightly). If you plan on doing math outside of a math major in college (as in, engineering, or taking math classes), the 50g would be a very good choice (I limit math majors out because many of their classes are highly theoretical anyway).

I might also mention that you shouldn't feel as though a graphing calculator is the end-all of calculators. I graduated from high school in 2005, and I'm at an engineering school. I have a 49g+ (though it is an older, somewhat buggy version) and a 32sii. I will use the 32sii several times a day, and the 49g+ several times a month. A good scientific calculator, as you might have noted, is a great tool.

I would also like to suggest that you give Reverse Polish Notation (RPN), if you don't already use it, a try. RPN is an alternative method of entering equations into a calculator. Instead of typing 2+3=, you would type 2 Enter 3 +. This seems backwards at first, and there is a slight learning curve. However, once you get used to it, it is hard to turn back. RPN allows for easier inputting of equations and arithmetic. People at this forum swear by it, as did many of my friends in high school. It is faster and more efficient. More on RPN is available here.

One advantage that the 50g has over the 48gii is the ability to be used in Algebraic (2+3=) and RPN (2 enter 3 +). This is a wonderful feature.

If you have more questions about the calculators, my recommendations, or RPN, feel free to post back and if I don't get back to you immediately, someone else will.


#32

Quote:
One advantage that the 50g has over the 48gii is the ability to be
used in Algebraic (2+3=) and RPN (2 enter 3 +). This is a
wonderful feature.

I think that you're wrong about that; everything that I've read
about the 48gII indicates that it can be switched between ALG and
RPN modes, just like the rest of the 49 series.

But I understand that the 39 and 40 series are algebraic only.

Regards,
James


#33

Quote:
I think that you're wrong about that; everything that I've read about the 48gII indicates that it can be switched between ALG and RPN modes, just like the rest of the 49 series.

Yes, I am wrong. I'm not sure why I thought that, but you are correct. The 48gII can be used in RPN or Algebraic mode

#34

Note that even in "RPN" mode, the RPL models can handle an "algebraic object". For example, '2+3' EVAL returns 5.

For "working out" a problem, I much prefer an RPL sequence or program (no need to figure out the algebraic expression), but using an algebraic object is particularly useful for when I already have an algebraic expression available (no need to convert it to RPL syntax).

Regards,
James

#35

Ben,

I would love to have your calculator design--were it ever to be produced!

Was it it the 59, or the 50?

#36

I almost wonder if it'd be worth waiting to get the Nspire?


Personally, and I may be among the few here that this would be true for, I was blown away by the existence of calculators that could do algebra and calculus. If ALL you'd ever never need a calculator for would be number crunching, you might not need a CAS, but if you ever need to derive your own formulas instead of just using one from a book (not to mention that these calculators can do a decent job of replacing integral tables -- though they can only work with elementary functions, and neither is able to exactly evaluate definite integrals with elementary values if the indefinite form can't be integrated. Example, they won't tell you the integral of exp(-x^2) from negative to positive infinity is the square root of pi), they can save as much tedium as a 4 function or scientific calculator can save for pure number crunching. And, ultimately, I think that's what calculators are for.


To compare the two, they have a lot of feature overlap. Both can do a variety of integrals. Both can do a lot of algebra. Both can work with matrices and imaginary numbers. Both can do various nifty things, like find the closed form values of the sum of reciprocal even powers.

Both have constants libraries. Both work with units.

What are some differences (or weaknesses)?

For some reason, the HP has weaker complex support. It can't numerically integrate when complex values are involved. It can't do Taylor series that involve complex numbers.

The biggest difference between them is that the TI tends to automatically simplify results. Sometimes you want this; sometimes you don't. As an example, if you do an integral that can be easily done using complex numbers, even if it's not inherently related to complex numbers (say, it's the reciprocal of a polynomial, and the polynomial has complex factors, so you'd get logs of complex terms after applying partial sums), you'd be left with a messy complex result on the HP. The TI would gather terms that combine to give real terms.

The TI also simply CAN simplify more results. As an example, it can reduce sin(pi/5) to radicals, while the HP can't.

I'm almost tempted to say the TI seems to have a more powerful and consistent CAS. The HP can do things the TI can't, but it's abilities are more scattershot.

But the HP has strengths, too. If I'd have to do something with matrices, I'd probably reach for the HP. I like the HP's matrix editor, whereas I hate entering matrices on the TI. (The TI sort of has a matrix editor, but to use it you have to commit to saving the matrix and naming it with a variable)

It's easier to write simple programs on the TI, but the HP's programming language (RPL) is basically like programming manual operations. What that means if that if there's something you could do manually on the HP, you can automate it with a program. That's not necessarily true on the TI. As a simple example, you might frequently use ANS[wer] while using the TI as a calculator. But ANS is meaningless within a program.

I like the HP's soft keys a lot. A graphing calculator will never be able to have all of its functions on the keyboard, but soft keys lessen the amount of time you'd have to dig through menus.

One feature that even I don't use much on the HP, though I have occasionally used it, is that it can sort of even work with undefined functions. Meaning, if you took the derivative of (f(g(x)), you'll get the chain rule. The TI would just leave it as d(f(g(x)))/dx.

Of course, you should memorize the chain rule, but you can use this ability for more complicated things. Example, suppose you forgot the Laplacian in spherical coordinates, and you don't have a reference handy. You could use this feature of the HP to derive it.


I don't know if this is helpful. Honestly, I sort of think the two offerings are almost tied, unless you had one particular application in mind that one just happens to do better than the other.


#37

Crawl,

Quote:
Example, they won't tell you the integral of exp(-x^2) from negative to positive infinity is the square root of pi

Derive 6.1 on the PC does return sqrt(pi)! But the TI-CAS (tested on my Voyage 200) does not. Nor does my 49g+ in symbolic mode. In approximate mode, both calculators return the numeric value 1.77245...

Marcus

#38

Hi Hannah --

Being somewhat older than most of the posters in this thread so far, I feel I can offer some sagely advice. :-)

First, this may very well be one of those moments you look back at in 20 years and realize that you made a defining decision. Not only for your education, but for your career as well.

In high school, I was one of those geeky kids that carried a calculator around on my belt. Mine was an HP-25C, when almost everyone else had a basic 4-banger or a TI-30, but the point wasn't that I was a geek (which I was :-) -- it's that I made a *choice*. I decided to go with a product that was highly recommended to me. It had passion behind it; there wasn't just someone saying "here, use this TI-30, it's good enough..." -- they were saying "here, use this HP-25C, it's something you'll never regret, and is infinitely better than anything else out there right now."

Granted, the current HP lineup isn't the same as it was in the old days, but it's still head and shoulders above the TI line when you really look at the history and thought that went into it. And I have a feeling that the old HP might be about due for a come-back. ;-)

The 50g is the current top of the line. In sheer terms of power, it will beat most of the entire TI line. Sure, there are some things that the TI does better, or nicer, or faster, or...at all (the poster right before me did a great job of outlining differences), but if you look at the totality of the unit, you'll find the 50g to be a smarter choice.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of the current educators are used to curriculum in TI-speak, but they haven't *forgotten* the HP line. If you use an HP calculator -- especially using RPN -- you're making a statement that you're not the run-of-the-mill student. These guys probably grew up with HP themselves. They'll see that there's something special about you, and you didn't just pick up the HP and bring it to class because it was lying around. You made a *conscious* decision to do so. Action always speaks louder than intent.

You took your first step in asking the opinion of others in this group, so I suspect you've already "felt" some of this. The fact that you liked the 30s says a lot as well.

I am biased, surely, but I feel confident making this statement: embrace the HP and RPN, and in 20 years, you'll look back and it will be clear you made the wisest choice. And I'll offer you this final thought: if price is at all a deciding factor in your decision, then buy the HP-50g, and I will personally (and anonymously) send you a check for whatever amount you can't cover to make up the difference. In my mind, it's money well spent. I am dead serious too, and I want nothing back from you other than a message in 20 years to let me know if it was well spent in your view. :-)

thanks,
bruce

Edited: 28 Aug 2006, 2:16 a.m.


#39

Quote:
The 50g is the current top of the line. In sheer terms of power, it will beat most of the entire TI line. Sure, there are some things that the TI does better, or nicer, or faster, or...at all (the poster right before me did a great job of outlining differences), but if you look at the totality of the unit, you'll find the 50g to be a smarter choice.

Let me put it this way: If the choice was between the HP, and any TI calculator OTHER than the 89, I'd recommend going with the HP without a moment's thought.

I think TI's low scientific calculators are kind of garbage, with not enough features, and they aren't very durable, either. When I was in highschool, I lost two TI scientifics to wear and tear (granted, I may be a hard user of calculators).

And for their other graphing calculators, when I first saw the TI-81 more than ten years ago, I thought, What's the point? Graphing isn't that useful, and any functions this calculator has over a scientific (and there weren't many, even over a cheap scientific -- and compared to a higher end HP calc that had matrix support and could be programmed, it might not have had any) was offset by having to go through menus to use the thing as a calculator.

I still think "What's the point?" for most graphing calculators.

It's really the CAS that makes modern graphing calculators worthwhile, in my opinion.


#40

Quote:
I still think "What's the point?" for most graphing calculators.

It's really the CAS that makes modern graphing calculators
worthwhile, in my opinion.


To be sure, I've never been very impressed with the calculators'
ability to graph, although it can be useful. I consider graphing
to be an extra frill.

To me, the impressive thing about these "graphing" models is the
ability to do symbolic math, rather than simply crunch numbers.
Also, the abilty to work with matrices; it's very useful for
statistics. And of course, the RPN input style, and the RPL
programming language. I think of them as "RPL models" rather than
"graphing models".

Regards,
James

#41

Hi there, Hannah.

First off, I'll mention that the usenet group comp.sys.hp48 may be
more "friendly" about discussions of the HP graphing calculators,
and somewhat tolerant about comparisons with TI models. This HP
Museum Forum is okay, but it's biased toward HP's "Classic RPN"
instead of the "RPL" used on some HP "graphing" models. If you're
not using a newsreader, then
http://groups.google.com/group/comp.sys.hp48? is perhaps the
easiest way to access the newsgroup. In general, search first, and
if you don't find an answer, then ask.

Also see http://www.hpcalc.org/ for information and
applications for HP's RPL models. A lot of information is
also available at HP's "Training modules" links, as from
http://www.hp.com/calculators/graphing/50g/.

I haven't used a TI since the mid '70s, but I suppose that the HP
"49 series" (49G, 48gII, 49g+, and 50g), when used in the default
ALG mode, would be somewhat similar to current TI models. I have
my doubts about finding teachers or fellow students who are
familiar with HP calculators, and most of the online discussions
that I've seen about these models naturally assume that the
calculator is in "RPN" mode. Learning to use a calculator in RPN
mode may take a little getting used to, but, in my opinion, it
would be well worth the effort. I expect that the TI and HP models
each have their advantages (and disadvantages). If you're going to
depend on your teachers and fellow students to tell you which keys
to push, then you may well be better off with a TI, but if you're
willing to figure things out pretty much for yourself, then I'd
recommend an HP (in RPN mode). Also, consider asking your teachers
for recommendations.

Of course, having grown up in an era when things were done with
pencil and paper and printed tables (well, often a slide rule for
science classes), I have serious doubts about relying too much on
a calculator or computer for educational purposes, but I do
realize that schools now often expect students to have a
calculator available. I recommend that you first learn how and why
something works, and then learn how to take the drudgery out of
actually doing it by using a calculator. A calculator or computer
isn't much use if you don't know what you need it to do, and how
to tell it do to that.

For some information on differences among the 49g+, 48gII, and
50g, see
http://www.hpmuseum.org/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/hpmuseum/forum.cgi?read=98443#98443.
The CAS, programming, and mathematical capabilities of all of the
49 series are the same, the differences being in such things as
speed, memory capacity, storage ports, and external
communications. Note that the operating system on the 48gII can't
be updated, so you're stuck with any bugs that happen to be in the
calculator that you happen to get. Also, the 48gII has less RAM
and entirely lacks flash memory for storage, and it's somewhat
slower than the 49g+ and 50g. But the 48gII is US$35 cheaper than the 50g (at
http://commerce.hpcalc.org/, anyway), and if you're on a
budget, then it may suffice.

To (more or less) "try before you buy", I'd recommend trying the
"emulators" (EMU-48GII and EMU-50g) included with the most recent
version of the Debug4x application, available from
http://www.debug4x.com/.

Regards,
James

Edited: 28 Aug 2006, 4:12 a.m.


#42

Wow - I hadn't seen these before - this is great. This hpmuseum site should have a link to these!

The link they do for a similar simulation http://etud.epita.fr/~sebc/Emu48/ seems to be broken.

One quick question...

How do you keep these simulators from turning themselves off after a period of inactivity? I'd prefer that they just kept running - it's not like you're running the batteries down. ;-)

Kevin


#43

That is because they are emulators, not simulators. They do everything that the original does, just on a different CPU.

There are true simulators for some--at least there is for the 12c and maybe the 15c? from Lygea.

A simulator is like simulated vanilla--mostly there but not quite the same:-)


#44

Quote:
That is because they are emulators, not simulators. They do
everything that the original does, just on a different CPU.

There are true simulators for some--at least there is for the 12c
and maybe the 15c? from Lygea.

A simulator is like simulated vanilla--mostly there but not quite
the same:-)


Umm, but these "emulators" are not quite the same as the real
calculators.

For example, they don't emulate the IR ports. And what about
emulating the USB ports? Do they do that? The "emulator" emulates
the "hardware Saturn" processor used in the 48 series and 49G,
not the "Saturn+" processor as emulated on a real 48gII, 49g+, and
50g, so the "ROMs" loaded for these models have been tweaked to
use only the opcodes available on the older models. Of course,
this means that assembly language programs that use any new
"Saturn+" opcodes won't work with the emulator. Granted, as far as
I know, such "new" opcodes are "unsupported", but the "emulator"
is still not quite the same as a real calculator.

So maybe it really should be called a "simulator" instead of an
"emulator". On the other hand, as far as I know, it will (with the
right .kml script and "ROM" file) run any UserRPL or SysRPL
program that runs on the real calculator (but I really don't have
much experience with the emulator).

Regards,
James

Edited: 28 Aug 2006, 5:24 p.m.

#45

Quote:
Wow - I hadn't seen these before - this is great. This hpmuseum
site should have a link to these!

Apparently you're referring to the emulators (or simulators, if
you prefer).

That would be nice; where do we suggest that?

It might be good for HP to have a link to them too; maybe some
potential customers would see how great these calculators are and
decide to buy the real thing. On the other hand, perhaps some
potential customers would decide that an emulator suffices, and
not bother buying a real calculator.

Quote:
The link they do for a similar simulation
http://etud.epita.fr/~sebc/Emu48/ seems to be broken.

There are similar applications available from
http://www.hpcalc.org/, for example, but that site hasn't
been updated since May (Eric's currently out of the country on
business, and expects to be back in September), so, as far as I
know, the only one currently available for the 50g is the one from
http://www.debug4x.com/.

Quote:
One quick question...

How do you keep these simulators from turning themselves off after
a period of inactivity? I'd prefer that they just kept running -
it's not like you're running the batteries down. ;-)


Just don't leave it idle for 5 minutes.

But a bit more seriously, with the 49 series, you can store a user
"binary" integer in a reserved global variable named 'TOFF'
(presumably for "Timed OFF"). The value represents the number of
"ticks" (1 tick = 1/8192 second) of inactivity before the
calculator turns itself off. The value must not use more than 32
bits ( #FFFFFFFFh ), which should give you 524287 and 8191/8192
seconds (by the calculator's clock), or a little over 6 days. But
these calculators very briefly wake themselves up after being off
for a maximum of slightly over 3 days (this has to do with
updating the system timekeeping registers), so maybe #FFFFFFFFh
would be effectively "forever"? Or maybe the maximum is #7FFFFFFh
ticks? I've never left one running that long, so I can't be
certain, but I expect that 3 days would be "long enough" for most
purposes. A value of #A000h or less results in the minimum turn-off
time of 5 seconds, so just in case you set the value very low, you
still have a chance to purge 'TOFF'. The default turn-off time
(without 'TOFF', that is) is exactly 5 minutes, at least on the 49
series. For my real calculators, I usually use #5A000h (45
seconds).

About that maximum of 32 bit values -- I filed a bug about it (see
http://bugs.hpcalc.org/show_bug.cgi?id=65). The plan was to
have it fixed for ROM revision 1.19-7, but that ROM was never
publicly released, and I can't be absolutely certain that the fix
made it into the 49g+ and 50g ROMs.

For some other nifty reserved variables, see appendix D of the
49g+ AUR manual. Of course, any "reserved" global variable name
should be used only for its intended purpose, so you should at least be
aware of them.

The 48 series don't have 'TOFF' as a reserved variable though, and
no good way to achieve the same effect occurs to me right offhand.

Regards,
James

Edited: 28 Aug 2006, 5:17 p.m.

#46

Hi Hannah,
I'm facing a simmilar dilemma with my son, who is going into 7th grade algebra this year. His school supply list says... Calculator (we use the TI84 plus)...
My son, however, absolutely does not want a TI, as he has been using my old HPs (and an HP33s)
in pre-algebra, and loves RPN. So I picked up a 48G for him to use in his class, and we'll see how that goes (worst case I can always add the 48G to my collection and get him something else:). As another poster alluded to, I would rather my son learn the concepts behind the math, rather than learn keystroke sequences in lock step with the rest of the class.

I can almost guarantee you that once you start using RPN, you'll never go back to algebraic entry...especially for general number crunching, chain calculations, ect.

Also, the HPs have better keyboards, with thier hinged, detented keys (this has been the case ever since the HP35 back in 1973).

One more consideration...this forum is frequented by people that can get you through any problem you may be having with either calculator, but especially with an HP machine.


My pick would be the 50g

Best of luck with school, Hal

#47

Hi Hannah,

Quote:
I've looked at HP's offerings and wanted to know which would be the better option --- the 48gII, the 50g, or *cringes* pay the outrageous amount and get an 89.

If you buy an HP then buy the 50G. The reason: it is the current model and you will get much more help and advice from here and the comp.sys.hp48 newsgroup if you do. The 48GII is older, the ROM can't be upgraded, has less memory and no one bought one. :-) This decision is a no brainer.

Deciding whether to get a TI 89 is a lot harder. For a junior, the maths capabilities of either model are more than good enough. The big advantage of the TI is that it's the one the school use so you can get help easily - from the teacher or a friend. If you get the 50G then you'll be more on your own. If you enjoy math then that's great - you'll explore much more and learn much more. If you just want to "get through" math then the TI would be better.

One word of warning: The 30S is a re-badged calc from another maufacturer and its style quite different to a 50G. It's great that you like it but don't be surprised when the 50G turns out to be quite different.

You can download a free HP50G emulator for Windows from http://www.debug4x.com/ which will allow you to try it out. (The manuals are here.)

Regards,


#48

Or a bookmarked and hyper-linked version of the hp 49g+/ hp 48gII graphing calculator advanced user’s reference manual is available from http://www.hpcalc.org/details.php?id=6374. Thanks for making that available, Bruce.

Regards,
James


#49

Quote:
Or a bookmarked and hyper-linked version of the hp 49g+/ hp 48gII graphing calculator advanced user’s reference manual is available from [snip]

Haven't they made that available as the official download yet?

<shouts>NELSON</shouts>

:-)

#50

Hi Hannah,

By all means buy the HP. Because nobody will be able to help you with the appropriate Pavlovian button-pressing instructions, you wil quikly learn to think for yourself, and actually think through the problems and maths ideas, rather than parroting the answer.

Math isn't about calculators. Calculators are merely arithmetic tools. The more you learn to do it without machines the better. And further, read "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman" to see what keeping your brain sharp in arithmetic can do for you!

As far as the 30s goes, most HP users who know the old HP are not favorably impressed with that machine. It has a great screen, and some good features, but barely scratches the surface of what the real HP scientific and business (as opposed to graphing) calculators can do.

You should read about the 27s (it is written up here on the museum). That machine gives you the equation stuff of the 30s but so much more powerfully and with gusto. Sadly it is no longer in production. But you have the same power on a 50g (actually even more power).

Regards,

Bill


#51

I have never gone to High School in the US so I can't really tell which calculator is best. But I want to put my 2 cents in term of cost. I think today calculators are very inexpensive compared to the late 70's or early 80's. If I were you or your parent I would not mind paying for good calculator or calculators for that matter. And yes I do agree that math isn't about calculator.

Edited: 28 Aug 2006, 10:10 a.m.

#52

Here are some pointers from a teacher's point of view.

How well do you pick up on new technology (by this I mean new to you, and not the most recent hardware)? I have found that students who simply need a calculator because it is useful to have one in class often do better by using the same models that most of the other students use. In some cases, it's the TI models. In other cases, you'll see lots of HPs. The point is that if you consider yourself simply in need of a tool to help you along with math, but do no see yourself wanting to invest a lot of time into learning the tool, then get one that is widely used in your classes. This way, you can simply ask others how to do a certain task, and quickly pick up only on things you need to know.

As far as high school AP and IB classes go, both the HP50G and the TI89 would be more than enough (I am assuming, of course, that both are allowed on the exams). You will certainly hear more pro-HP50G arguments at an HP forum, however I believe that so long as you are well versed in the functionality of either machine, you will do fine.

#53

In Calculus 1 (AP Calculus AB), my junior year of high school, I had my 32sii, an early 49g+, and a TI-89 that belonged to my school. In class, students used the TI-89 almost exclusively. I used my 32sii a great deal, and would generally try stuff on the 49g+ and the 89.
I ended up doing the same thing in Calculus 2 (AP Calculus BC), but I generally forgot about using the 89 at all.

My experience:
At first, the 49g+ was difficult to use. I had trouble figuring out how to do numerical integration on it, and I figured it couldn't be done (2 months later I learned how to do it). This was partially due to the fact that I didn't have a copy of the manual and that the Learning Modules (available at www.hp.com/calculators/) has not been released (for 2 months that I was using the 49g+, it hasn't been released). I am confident that if you read some of the applicable Learning Modules and look up applicable things in the manual, then you will be able to figure out how to do anything on the 50g (which is the 49g+ with a few improvements).

In our calculus class, we don't use calculators for too much, because my teacher wants to make sure we can integrate and differentiate by hand. However, we tended to use calculators for the more challenging problems. On these, in my experience, the HP-49g+ (and thus the 50g) produces and answer that is considerably simpler than the TI-89. I would get an answer that was 1 or 2 terms while the TI-89 would get an answer that was 5-10. This is probably because of the way the 49g+ simplifies compared to the 89.

Also, the 49g+ is considerably faster than the TI-89 (and event the Titanium version of the TI-89) (as in at least 3 times as fast, and for some things as much as 15 times as fast. If you want an example, type in a 50 digit number to the HP and the 89. Then add 1. The 49g+/50g will think nothing of it and respond with an answer right away. The 89 will spend 15-20 seconds before it replies with its answer. This is on the extreme of the differences)

It is also much easier (and much faster) to enter long equations into the 49g+/50g than the TI-89. This is because you can enter equations in using RPN (which means you don't have to worry about parentheses and how many you opened and how many you closed) but also because you can use the Textbook editor mode. This lets you enter equations like you would write them. Sometimes it allows for an even faster entry than RPN. Basically, it is a hybrid, designed for equations, between RPN and Algebraic. It does use parentheses, but it automatically opens and closes them for you.

Finally, one feature that I used a great deal in Calculus was the "Step-By-Step" mode. HP claims that this mode will have the calculator "show its work." What this means is that if you plug in a function and want it to differentiate it, it will say "Try using u substitution with u=____"... "Then, use the chain rule on this." This is extremely useful, especially when you are trying to learn basic patterns in calculus. There have been many times that friends and I have been stuck on problems (non-calculator problems) and I'll pull out my calculator, see what the first step is, and then do it by hand. More importantly, the next time I see a similar problem, I remember what my calculator had told me was a good idea for a first step. This is how I built up my calculus-intuition.


In conclusion, both the 50g and the TI-89 are good machines. You would do fine with either one. As others have mentioned, we are all biased towards HP. If you went to TIcalc.org, and asked whether to get a TI or an HP, they would reply "The TI, of course... HPs are backwards and hard to use... no one uses them" If you go with the 50g, you'll probably like it a whole lot... When I started using RPN, I was extremely excited about being able to press + and then * (as in 5 Enter 3 Enter 2 + * to give me 5*(3+2) )


#54

Quote:
Finally, one feature that I used a great deal in Calculus was the "Step-By-Step" mode. HP claims that this mode will have the calculator "show its work." What this means is that if you plug in a function and want it to differentiate it, it will say "Try using u substitution with u=____"... "Then, use the chain rule on this." This is extremely useful, especially when you are trying to learn basic patterns in calculus. There have been many times that friends and I have been stuck on problems (non-calculator problems) and I'll pull out my calculator, see what the first step is, and then do it by hand. More importantly, the next time I see a similar problem, I remember what my calculator had told me was a good idea for a first step. This is how I built up my calculus-intuition.

The TI has something similar, called the Symbolic Math Guide.

The differences are:

-For the HP, it's integrated into the main operation of the calculator. For the TI, it's a separate application.

-For the HP, the process is automated, but you might get incomplete comments. For example, if you're doing an integral with a rational fraction, it'll tell you "Rational Fraction", but it won't go through the partial fractions decomposition.

For the TI, the process is less automated -- you personally have to pick whether you want to integrate by parts, or use a substitution, or whatever. And you might even need to pick the particular substitution (though I think the calculator will sometimes offer help if you ask for it). But it can go through every step.


Really, though, I can't vouch too much for either feature. I don't usually use them, since I already knew calculus before getting these calculators.

#55

Hannah, at the time I had to choose a calculator for school, I did my decision tree and eventually bought the HP28S that was the highest end calculator of HP at that time.
In the class, Casio graphing calcs were #1 and supported by the techer, but HP not far behind.

I had put all my personal money (several years of gifts) on this purchase. I do not regret one penny of it. It was one of my best investment for my studies.

I have run all my classes and graduated in my engineering school with it. It was still standing on my desk at my company a few months ago, but I decided to keep it in a safer place because so many people around me have had theirs stolen.

I can tell for sure that I gained points on exam by performing quickly and accurately numerical calculations in physics and maths (RPN really allow quick operations), including qudratics resolution, and by extensive use of the solver (again the user interface of HP is good for that).
Matrix handling also made the difference for equation systems resolution and from time to time eigenvalues in algebra.

My experience is the following: for everyday classes and exams, I see little use of symbolic features of the calcs, compared to doing the work with my brain. For instance, for integration/differentiation, I would integrate/differentiate the function numerically on a few points to make sure that my answer is correct.
Graphical capabilities will be handy from time to time to visualize functions, get a clue for limit calculation...
Admittedly, in my daily engineering work, this is not very useful (I have a computer for complex needs).

In a word, with the HP50g, you'll get state of the art calculator, and if you interest for calculator extends just a little bit more than what is required for your classes, you will also have fun with it.

#56

This might be a duplicate message, but try this URL to get a different perswpective, good luck!


http://www.ibiblio.org/technicalc/tifaq/?tivshp.htm

#57

Just wanted to thank everyone for the calculator advice! It was very helpful; I was a little surprised to see so many responses, but it's pretty cool.

I've played with the emulators for a day or two now, and I'm definitely going to be putting an HP calculator on my wishlist for Christmas; probably the 50g ---- although I'm not much of a math scholar (I have to work hard just to pass, but that's another story for another day), I'm interested in having a tool that's durable and will be an investment. Also, I don't mind having a learning curve with the calculator because I normally catch on to things pretty quickly when it comes to electronics.

I like the RPN feature of the HPs --- although it took me a couple tries, I caught on easily and I think it's a nifty feature. I was telling my dad about it earlier and he's not much of a fan (he commented on how backwards it seems), but that's okay. The only feature I couldn't quite get to work on the emulator was the calculation that involves the sigma sign; I'm not quite clear on that concept as I just entered what I had on my worksheet onto the screen and it didn't work. But, oh well --- I suppose that's okay for now.

Anyways, thanks again for the advice and links. It was quite helpful to get your opinions. And as I mentioned before, I'm definitely putting the HP on my wishlist for Christmas; I don't know at this point if it'd replace what I'm using now or I'd use it as a compliment to my 84 (as that, unlike the 50g/48gII/TI-89, is allowed on all exams, including the ACT; the 50g and others with CAS are allowed on most, but not all).

-Hannah (-:0


#58

Hi Hannah:

Perhaps some of my experience could help in your selection. When I was in high school (twenty years ago), I had a TI-55 to use for my algebra, trig, pre-calc and calculus courses. I thought it was a piece of junk but it was the only thing available to me. A new calculator wasn't a high priority on my parents list. When I started college, THE calculator to use in Engineering was the HP 48SX. Everything else was junk. I found it to be superior to anything else I had tried. Even my father's TI-58 and TI-59. I liked the RPN usage in the calculator. The 55 was thrown into a box and I have never looked back.

Jump to present day: I am taking classes again at another engineering university. The required calculator for Freshmen is the TI-89. After you complete Calc II, the Mathematics department cares less what you use. My TI was tossed into a desk drawer. Out comes my HP 48GX. It's a slower machine but, in my opinion, a much better one. A 50G will be in my mailbox this week so I have more speed and memory available to me. My point is, find the best machines that will work for you and keep with that type. In my opinion, HP's are the best for those who need speed and flexibility in their calculators. I do not believe you will be disappointed in it.

I hope this helps.


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