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Little explorations with HP calculators (no Prime)
04-10-2017, 12:11 PM (This post was last modified: 04-10-2017 12:13 PM by pier4r.)
Post: #177
RE: Little explorations with the HP calculators
(04-10-2017 10:53 AM)Dieter Wrote:  By the way...

There is this proverb, saying "If you got a hammer everything looks like a nail". ;-)

You have a new 50g and you now want to use it for every problem that comes around. That's not a good idea. Better analyze the problem and then pick the right tool. Which in most cases is your brain. Maybe a calculator is useful for the final step.

You can even think one step further: The problems you have been posting are intended to be solved by hand (err... brain). So they are designed in a way that does not require a calculator. For exploring your 50g's capabilities other problems may be more useful. For instance those presented at the yearly meetings.


I do believe I replied on this once.

Short answer: what you say is surely valid in several cases but not in this one, I set the idea to use the 50g as much as I can, and I do it. The problem is when I'm not able to find out ways to "cast" the problem in an algorithmic problem either due to time limit or due to skill limit. Like in the case of the functional equation.

Long answer (we do really need a sort of "hide/show" myBB block):
I am aware that, whatever helper system is chosen according to the problem (50g, hammer, a truck, a pen, etc.), it cannot do the job without the "brain". I can yell at the computer to solve a certain problem and it will always remain indifferent. Nevertheless I do also believe that there may exist several approaches that can lead to a solution of the same problem. Furthermore in some cases the approach has to be fun, otherwise it does not work.

There may be plenty of approaches to refresh, relearn or just learn techniques to solve problems, some more efficient some less, but the point is that they have to be sustainable for the individual. Sustainable in terms of "activity that can be done without getting tiresome".

So, as a rough analogy, if I decide to do a certain training that let me advance 10 "points" per day, but I can maintain it only for 3 weeks and then I decide to stop (1) then I'm at loss compared to an approach that let me advance maybe 0.1 points per day, but I can apply it for years.

Forcing a sentence of Epicurus in this analogy, I would say "the approach that lead to the higher cumulative result at the end, is the best one". (Epicurus actually said something like "Do not seek the action that procures you the highest short term happiness, seek the action that procures you the happiness that lasts longer")

Said that, since I know myself (not totally, one always discovers something new about himself, but surely better than everyone else), I do know the approach that is likely leading me to an higher result at the end between the ones that I am aware of. Of course I may miss approaches that I'm not aware of, but I have limited time so ending in the loop "do I investigate if there is another approach to do what I want to do or do I choose between the ones that I know so far?" is not an option for the moment.

In this particular case, I can ensure you that if I start to dive deep down to math problems without thinking about "how can I somehow involve the 50g to let it burn" , I would likely stop doing it after few days or weeks. I would enjoy the process, but likely I would not be able to sustain it. Not because I do not like mathematics, I do really appreciate the skills of you, Han, Gerson and a lot of other people. Just there are approaches more sustainable than others according to the context.

Plus I do know really well that even if one takes a side approach to a problem, slowly one starts to realize patterns and get better (also with the help of comments like yours). As one knows from mathematics, there are plenty of ways to solve a problem, therefore I do reject the idea that there should be only one way to train oneself in a specific subject.

So I do appreciate the tip, but believe me that I already considered it (2) and it does not mean that I do not apply myself on the problem, just I do it in a way that is different from your "standard", with poor results at first, but it is a long journey so I'm optimistic. If I wouldn't, I wouldn't even start the journey.

(1) no, if someone is thinking "but then you lack discipline!", that's a wrong answer in my opinion. I can argue about this for days, the problem is that it may be a not fruitful discussion.
(2) I have a plan for a big overhaul of my math knowledge, I do have the manuals but the other conditions are not satisfied yet.

Side notes:
- I have the hp 50g since December 2010. Just the last time I used it was in September 2013 as you can see on the
- I do think that packing (I mean, taking care of this) your suggestion in a less direct way would help the community. I can understand the idea. "Look you are doing pretty bad, I do know way more, please follow this way as I did", but a community thrive when there is diversity (and respect for everyone that is not harmful), otherwise it starts to be newbie (newbie, not newcomer!) unfriendly and on the long run it shrinks or does not get larger. People starts to think twice before posting because they were criticized already enough and so on. It is a pretty old pattern in communities. Even Gauss was so hurt that did not publish much after his first major publication, due to not well packed critics.

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RE: Little explorations with the HP calculators - pier4r - 04-10-2017 12:11 PM

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