|Re: HP & RPN|
Message #21 Posted by James M. Prange (Michigan) on 16 Mar 2006, 6:33 p.m.,
in response to message #2 by Valentin Albillo
Okay, the last "advanced" algebraic/BASIC calculator that I've
seriously used is my Sharp EL-5520, and no doubt advanced
algebraic models have improved since then, but I very much doubt
that they've improved to the point that I'd find one easier to use
than an RPL model.
I found the 28S very easy and intuitive to use; in perhaps five
minutes I could see that working through a problem in RPN was much
easier (for me) than doing it on any other calculator that I'd
ever tried. Learning to use RPL object types, variables, and
program structures was a pleasure; at last, a calculator that
worked the way I think.
Not having any way except for the keyboard to input anything to
the 28S was indeed a disadvantage compared to the Sharp, but not
enough to want to go back to the old way. The 48SX fixed that
With the RPL models so easy and intuitive to use, why would I ever
want to go back to using an algebraic model for an advanced
For students, there are reasons for preferring algebraic models.
In many cases, that's all that their instructors know how to use,
and that's what "everyone else" uses. Except for looking through
the documentation or going online, one usually can't hope for much
help in using an RPN model.
It may be that for some people, algebraic models match their way
of thinking better than RPN models. That's not to say that they're
less (or more) intelligent than me, just that we're different. If
someone prefers to use an algebraic model or write a BASIC
program, that's fine with me; I'll stick to doing things the way
that I find easiest.
I agree that algebraic models sell better than HP's Classic RPN
and RPL models, but I see that as a failure to market HP's
calculators effectively, not as any inherent superiority of
algebraic models. I expect that the main reason that most people
prefer algebraic models is because that's the system they've
already learned and is most easily available.
Besides the 12C and 33S RPN-only models, HP still markets the
48gII and 49g+, and I hope that it's selling some of them. How
many users just leave them in the default ALG mode, I wouldn't
HP is indeed a "for-profit" corporation, and thus has a duty to
its stockholders to try to make a reasonable profit, so including
an "ALG" mode on recent models was a rational decision. Switching
a 49 series to "RPN" mode turns out to be a trivial matter, so
having an ALG mode available doesn't really matter to me, although
it was a nasty surprise the first time that I turned on my 49G. On
the other hand, if someone actually prefers algebraic mode, why
not just buy a "Brand X" calculator?
But I also think that HP (like many other companies) all too often
sacrifices long-term gain for short-term profit.
The quality that I'd come to expect from HP just isn't there in
the 49 series, but I don't see that that's relevant to a
discussion of the advantages of RPN versus AOS, although relevant
to a discussion of the advantages of HP products versus other
brands. For now, I'll stay with the 48 series when I just want to
get some real work done.
With the RPL models, I can enter an algebraic expression (in the
48 an 49 series, in multi-line "textbook" style if I prefer), and
let the compiler take care of working out the equivalent RPN
sequence. That's great when I have the expression already written
out in front of me. More often, I have the data in front of me,
and know what I want to do with it, and I find working through it
RPN-style more intuitive, faster, and generally just a lot easier
than working out the algebraic expression first. Why should I have
to go through the extra trouble of composing an algebraic
expression for what I want the calculator to do? The calculator
would parse it to an RPN sequence for execution anyway.
Given that I can use algebraic expressions just fine in my RPL
models, what advantage would an algebraic-only model have?
What's more, with the RPL models I never have to worry about an
object getting lost from the top of the stack; it just can't
happen. I can easily enough use up all available memory, but that
must be true of any calculator.
As for your daughter preferring her Sharp to an RPN model, has she
ever learned to use an RPL model? As counter-examples, my
grandniece and grandnephew prefer their RPL models to a TI.
Granted, Classic RPN does have some advantages over RPL, but for
me, the advantages of RPL far outweigh them.
RPN/RPL calculators may indeed eventually go the way of the
dinosaurs, but I'd see that as a failure in marketing and product
quality, not due do any disadvantages of RPN itself.