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Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
08-09-2018, 10:13 PM
Post: #1
Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
Hi there.

I’m wondering, despite the 10 digit accuracy with their two or three (or more) guard digits (i.e. TI-58/59 series) of the big four—TI, HP, Casio, Sharp, the accessibility and accuracy of mainframe, mini, and desktop/laptop computers, what purpose, validity, application do calculators have in science/engineering fields and major organization (JPL, NASA, MIT, Hughes Aircraft, your own high-tech/high-profile engineering/science firm)?

Thanks
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08-10-2018, 12:41 AM
Post: #2
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
Answer in the form of a riddle:

How many scientists / engineers are willing to ditch their calculators ?
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08-10-2018, 12:59 AM
Post: #3
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
Point taken.
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08-10-2018, 04:48 AM
Post: #4
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcs
Thanks. I wanted to ask because as a devoted calculator collector and enthusiast, I don’t want to see the day where calculators have ceased production because they’ve been outmoded by iPhones/iPads, Galaxy S nn/Note xx, or other smartphone/tablets.
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08-10-2018, 06:13 AM
Post: #5
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 04:48 AM)Matt Agajanian Wrote:  Thanks. I wanted to ask because as a devoted calculator collector and enthusiast, I don’t want to see the day where calculators have ceased production because they’ve been outmoded by iPhones/iPads, Galaxy S nn/Note xx, or other smartphone/tablets.

I feel the same way, but I'm not sure if that's enough to stop the commercially produced calculator from being consigned to the dustbin of history.

Dan has left the building
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08-10-2018, 07:08 AM
Post: #6
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 04:48 AM)Matt Agajanian Wrote:  Thanks. I wanted to ask because as a devoted calculator collector and enthusiast, I don’t want to see the day where calculators have ceased production because they’ve been outmoded by iPhones/iPads, Galaxy S nn/Note xx, or other smartphone/tablets.

Reprise
From some 30 years ago.

Now, just put your favorite calc as the main character of that strip...

Greetings,
    Massimo

-+×÷ ↔ left is right and right is wrong
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08-10-2018, 09:39 AM (This post was last modified: 08-10-2018 09:40 AM by pier4r.)
Post: #7
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 04:48 AM)Matt Agajanian Wrote:  Thanks. I wanted to ask because as a devoted calculator collector and enthusiast, I don’t want to see the day where calculators have ceased production because they’ve been outmoded by iPhones/iPads, Galaxy S nn/Note xx, or other smartphone/tablets.

as soon as we get (if possible) tacticle feedback for the touchscreen surfaces then the calculator will be a thing of the past.

So far it is better because - in my opinion - it provides a much more comfortable input interface.

Aside from the 4 functions using a calculator on a phone is a pain with too many missclicks . When the display is at least 8'' then things gets better, but that is roomy, it is not anymore something handheld.

Any I think a lot of engineers, scientists, technicians ditch their calculators when actually then don't do their math themselves but they use ready made forms to fill and run, without much thinking. And there are plenty of those people around.

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
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08-10-2018, 10:24 AM (This post was last modified: 08-10-2018 10:25 AM by Maximilian Hohmann.)
Post: #8
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
Hello!

(08-10-2018 09:39 AM)pier4r Wrote:  Any I think a lot of engineers, scientists, technicians ditch their calculators when actually then don't do their math themselves ...

Exactly. And "don't do their math themselves" usually starts on their first working day after college/university when their employer puts a powerful workstation on their desk and says: "I expect the first results by the end of the week". The days when this could be achieved by pocket calculator are gone since Armstrong and Aldrin flew back from the moon. From the mid 1980ies until 2010 I worked in IT and engineering for different companies (ranging in size from 4 to 50.000 employees) in various fields, all loosely connected to my aerospace background. Not once have I seen anyone use a pocket calculator for his work in all those years.

There may be some field scientists or surveyors who still need a pocket calculator for their out-of-office work. And maybe there are some niche jobs where a calculator can be used productively. An engineer with a university degree costs an employer in the order of 200 Euros an hour in my part of the world - all hidden costs - like facilities, administration, R&D, social security... - included. They don't want you to do 4x4 matrix multiplications at that level of cost using anything but the fastest tool.

Regards
Max
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08-10-2018, 11:07 AM
Post: #9
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
Hi Maximilian.

I don't mean only "oh the calculators are slow". I mean that for what I understood often scientists, technicians, engineers do not create the algorithm that then goes to compute the result, rather they put the input and they get an output in a toolbox designed to solve problems in the domain the work on. Say structure calculations and so on.

Therefore a calculator won't fit the need. The calculator would fit if there would be this "ready made" program only for a calculator. Then they would ditch their computer to just use this toolbox that does all the computation for them.

On the part "the calculators are slow". Sure, anyway one could argue "to get an idea of the problem, one first need to think a bit with pen and paper and a calculator is not bad as help", surely it is better than moving always your head to look at a monitor. Of course in that case even a scientific calculator would be enough for most of the initial tests or understanding sessions.

Still the point above holds. If people don't have to understand much, as the problem that they have to solve are already solved by specific programs that require only proper inputs, then a calculator is unneeded in any case.

Recently I saw a nice youtube video (that was linked here in some discussion) about the basic operations of fire control analog computers used by the US navy.

Now someone on the ship could have done the same work with a slide rule, or a mechanical calculator, or using precomputed tables or the like. The point is, though, that they created a black box solution that having proper inputs returns the wanted output. Even if the operator doesn't know anything about the math needed to solve the problem, the operator get the wanted output.

And that is what I feel happens more often than not today, there are software crafted to solve specific problems so people don't have to deal with the problem anymore, rather with the input values and the output values. A bit like a function on a calculator. One doesn't go computing the sine of 48 degrees anymore.

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
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08-10-2018, 11:51 AM (This post was last modified: 08-10-2018 11:53 AM by Maximilian Hohmann.)
Post: #10
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 11:07 AM)pier4r Wrote:  ... "oh the calculators are slow". ...

No no! Not "the calculator is slow", but "using a calculator to solve engineering/science problems is slow". I know quite a few physicists from my amateur astronomy circle. They all use Matlab on their PC or notebook for the kind of calculation one used to do with a calculator 30 years ago. Because by simply typing in your problem it will already be programmed and stored. Two keystrokes more and instead of a single value as a result you will get a two or three dimensional diagram. Which, with another two keystrokes, you can copy-paste into your document editor where you write up your paper, together with the equation you typed in to start with and which will appear in perfect typesetting in your paper as well. Ten minutes of work which would take an hour or more even with the most sophisticated CAS graphing calculator. And engineering is much much worse. There are few problems which can be solved with a single equation. And even if a single equation would suffice, this has to be repeated one hundred thousand times for every rivet in the fuselage and wing of your new Airbus...

Regards
Max
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08-10-2018, 12:04 PM
Post: #11
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 09:39 AM)pier4r Wrote:  as soon as we get (if possible) tacticle feedback for the touchscreen surfaces then the calculator will be a thing of the past.

Say, someone invented a calculator keyboard that can snap on top of an iPhone.
It had real keys, not the fake glass surface simulated keys.

For all practical purpose, it is same as the real calculator, only much faster.
You snap-on a HP-15C keyboard, you get a HP-15C ...

Does that meant the end of calculators ?
No, we just rename the new gadget as the calculator.

BTW, I checked before posting.
Snap-on calculator keyboard not yet exist :-(
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08-10-2018, 12:43 PM
Post: #12
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 12:04 PM)Albert Chan Wrote:  Say, someone invented a calculator keyboard that can snap on top of an iPhone.

Now that's a very interesting idea. I could re-purpose my old iPhone that sits unused in a drawer, along with my old iPod touch etc.

Then again nobody seems to make hp-like keyboards even for regular circuit boards etc. Even the DM-42 couldn't make a decent keyboard for their hardware calculator. So creating a proper snap on keyboard of sufficient quality seems unlikely, unless some company focuses on reproducing the hp-like keyboard. Having a snap on iPhone market might motivate them.
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08-10-2018, 12:46 PM (This post was last modified: 08-10-2018 12:46 PM by Maximilian Hohmann.)
Post: #13
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 12:04 PM)Albert Chan Wrote:  For all practical purpose, it is same as the real calculator, only much faster.

Maybe. But in my experience very few people ever use a calculator - and the fewest in engineering. Be it real hardware or some app or emulator. So giving those people a snap on keypad will not change much. And those who use the calculator for household calculations (like "the recipe says three eggs per pound of flour and I want to make a cake with two pounds of flour - so how many eggs do I need?") do not care about tactile feedback. They don't get that whilst texting their friends either.
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08-10-2018, 01:48 PM
Post: #14
RE: Riddle me this: Usefulness of calcl
(08-10-2018 12:04 PM)Albert Chan Wrote:  
(08-10-2018 09:39 AM)pier4r Wrote:  as soon as we get (if possible) tacticle feedback for the touchscreen surfaces then the calculator will be a thing of the past.

Say, someone invented a calculator keyboard that can snap on top of an iPhone.
It had real keys, not the fake glass surface simulated keys.

For all practical purpose, it is same as the real calculator, only much faster.
You snap-on a HP-15C keyboard, you get a HP-15C ...

Does that meant the end of calculators ?
No, we just rename the new gadget as the calculator.

BTW, I checked before posting.
Snap-on calculator keyboard not yet exist :-(

We just need something like this, and a good 28S/19BII emulator. Smile
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