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Calculators. To use or not to Use.

  1. Feb 16, 2007 #1
    What Calculator do you guys currently use?

    I currently use a Hp 33S scientific calculator as well as a hp 50G graphing calculator.

    Thogh these calculayors are great, I am wondering if I should get rid of them or not use them alot, so I can get stronger math skills. I tend to be very reliant on my calculators.

    Also I have heard from other students that in higher math classes such as Differential equation sna d Multi variable calculus, that calculators arent allowed.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 16, 2007 #2
    It depends on the instructors policy for calculators. I have both a ti-89 and 86, but I tend to use the 86 for just about everything.
  4. Feb 16, 2007 #3
    Calculators have rarely been useful in my math classes (with the obvious exceptions of numerical analysis and computational algebraic geometry). But for my physics classes, I've found that the TI-89 is extremely helpful. When I was an undergrad, this was the consensus among my fellow physics majors.
  5. Feb 16, 2007 #4
    unless there are numerical calculation with more than 3 digits. otherwise I dont suggest to use calculator. I dont see any chance you need to use calculator unless you do euler method.
  6. Feb 16, 2007 #5
    i do 4-2 on my calculator. I am 100% dependent on it.
  7. Feb 16, 2007 #6
    I agree that ti-89 rocks for physics. The lists of constants come in handy just when you need it (specially the units conversion... whats 1 horse power in terms of watts? forgot to write it down on cheat sheet? hehe, few buttons on ti-89 gives you the answer) also, integration saves me lots of trouble calculating tedious math like inertia tensors in mechanics and the equation solver is specially good for equations like the relativity ones (ugly square-roots).

    btw, if you want to improve math skills... yeah, definitely get rid of the calculators. If you are a physicist, well, just stick to the calculator.
  8. Feb 16, 2007 #7
    I wasn't allowed to use any calculator in any of my calculus courses now that I think about, no class at all allowed calculators other than physics but then he told us no calculators are allowed wee! not in Diff EQ, Linear Algebra, discrete,etc
  9. Feb 17, 2007 #8
    Oh, if only I had such prowess in arithmetic! I'm one of those stupids who kept getting held back in elementary school math, and then took off after miraculously getting into algebra. Never did too well with numbers, which is probably why I've done so well in advanced math courses. :rolleyes:

    And, as Tim said, there are added benefits in physics classes. Once you know how to set up an inertia tensor, doing the matrix multiplication doesn't really have any added educational value. Or after setting up an iterated integral, it's just easier to solve it with the 89's CAS rather than do each integration by hand. To those of us who are interested in the physics rather than the math, it's helpful to have such a calculator handy. Of course I still don't recommend it for math courses (especially the calculus sequence), since the whole point of such classes is to learn the mathematical techniques.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2007
  10. Feb 17, 2007 #9
    The one issue with not using the calculator is it will, if you are using a calculator with a symbolic algebra program in the calculator, slow you down when it comes to doing massive amounts of adjustments of equations. For instance in my upper division level math class, if it weren't for my calculator it would take me a good couple more hours to do my homework, because working through all of the steps by hand of manipulating the problems will take quite a bit of work, especially if I am as picky as I normally am and check as many steps as I can.

    Besides this, however, losing the calculator is probably not going to hurt you too much (though if you can bring it to a test, do so).
  11. Feb 17, 2007 #10
    I am speaking from a mathematician point of view. Now I am too dependent on it. Back then when I was 5 grade, i memorised table for trig formulae. And now with "helps' of symbolic calculator, I am nothing but a programmer. Afterall, you might just find a way to do simple arithmatic in a whole new way! At least that is how I learnt my maths.

    Of course, 8 by 8 matrix manipuitation with entries in H should be done on computer! lol. (If one tries, 3 digits arithematic can be done in your head shortly. Anything beyond that without significant physical meaning should seek help of calculator though)
  12. Feb 17, 2007 #11
    When I took my course in Linear Algebra, the instructor did not allow calculators for the quiz or exams. During some of the quizes and exams I see this guy in the corner with a freaking calculator with his body slighty turned so that the instructor wouldn't see him. I was like :surprised , come on man you don't know whats 2+2?!!!?! Since we couldn't use calculators she made numbers small and simple, fractions at the most.
  13. Feb 17, 2007 #12
    I love my TI-89. As I get into my higher level EE classes, I'm saving a ton of time on tests by writing small programs to deal with the sometimes cumbersome formulas that I have to use. Sometimes the number of brackets and division signs that need to be entered can get pretty messy and leaving one out in the wrong place can really screw up your answer and result in a lot of wasted test time trying to find the error. I always make sure it's cool with my professor before the test through.
  14. Feb 17, 2007 #13
    Who cares?

    You do know how to add large number in your head or on paper? Then you will only save time by using it. It also removes the human factor.

    Calculators often have tools that can be used to analyze a problem. If you have some sort of discipline, a calculator should actually increase both your learning curve and your ability. You won't 'loose' anything you have mastered before by taking a shortcut once and again.

    Take quadratic equations for example. Whenever I run into one, I always solve it using my calculator at first to estimate the answer and see if it makes sense. Every time there is a function of moderate difficulty to visualize in assignment or task, it is not like a draw it by hand.
  15. Feb 17, 2007 #14
    the only time that becomes a problem is when they start using the calculator so much they forget how to do it themselves. as long as you never reach that level, its ok
  16. Feb 17, 2007 #15
    did I hear somebody say that they weren't allowed to use a calculator in linear algebra?

    if I didn't have my 89 for linear algebra I would have had to quit being a physics major, I wouldn't be able to deal with the calculation. Once you've solved 1 system of equations by hand and know the mehttod, and likewise multiplied two matricies together by hand you can use a calculator for all subsequent operations.

    for an instructor to not allow a calculator like the 89 for a linear algebra course is nothing short of torture.
  17. Feb 17, 2007 #16
    We were never allowed to use calculators in any of my math courses (typical calc sequence, linear algebra, and one advanced course in diffyq's). Actually, only in the freshman level physics courses were we allowed to use a calculator since it was mainly plug and chug anyway. The calculators had to be non-graphing.

    Of course, we could use whatever we wanted for homework problems. I use Mathematica a lot these days hehe.
  18. Feb 18, 2007 #17
    Yeah, Ive never been allowed to use a calculator in any university math course, not even linear algebra.
  19. Feb 18, 2007 #18

    well at my school they say NO.
  20. Feb 19, 2007 #19
    how far did they get in the class? how many problems did you have to do?

    in my class we had to work through about 30 problems per week for the homework sets, with problems in the later sections (in particular diagonalization) which required one to calculate the eigenvectors, orthonormalize them, perform about 5 matrix multiplications, and then solve a system of equations.

    a thorough mathematical workout, that only took 5-10 minutes with an 89, if I had to do it by hand it would have taken over a half hour, maybe even more, and then I couldn't guarentee the solution to be accurate due to the errors that tend to crop up when one does a large number of arithmatic calculations by hand.

    The advantage of teaching the course in this fashion was that the problems were allowed to be more complicated, and involved a geater degree of abstraction. Where as without the calculator one would become bogged down in the calculation.
  21. Feb 19, 2007 #20


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    Calculators are for kids :tongue:
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