Prof. Alan Robert Clark
February 14, 2006Printable pdf version
In the '80's, a relatively fancy engineering calculator was
absolutely essential: numerical integration was impossible
unless you had one. They were large, worn on the belt to
identify you as an engineer/nerd, and frequently produced in public
settings in order to show that you knew what it was.
Notably, the popularity of the engineering calculator was mainly because
computers, used for the really heavy tasks, fitted in warehouses, not
In current times, the ability to do fancy stuff on a small calculator is
simply not required.
What to get
A ``non-fancy'', but engineering calculator, with:
The ideal current example is about R0.6k, and is GO, as aligned to HAL :-)
- complex numbers,
- limited keystroke programming,
- Reverse Polish Notation (RPN). (Infinitely better than Bracket Mania)
What not to get
Note that none of the fancy functions will help one
little bit in an exam, even if you CAN ACTUALLY drive your fancy
calculator, and ACTUALLY KNOW what all the buttons do: we
just simply don't set exams that way anymore. We now look
for understanding, and trust me: ``There ain't no ``understanding''
- Graphics capability---use Octave/Matlab.
- Fancy integration capability---use Octave/Matlab.
- Fancy root-solving capability---use Octave/Matlab.
- Fancy matrix-operations---use Octave/Matlab.
Unfortunately, bursary companies are still living in the dark ages, and
will happily sponsor a R2k calculator, but not a R5k computer, which really
is the tool you require.
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