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College Algebra Calculator ?

  1. Jan 26, 2010 #1

    I'm barely getting College Algebra. I'm at the point where I need a hint about 1/3 of the time. I have TI84+ calculator and was told I can't use the TI89 or HP50g on exams but CAN use them on homework.

    Do either, or preferable the HP50g, work out typical CA problems such as factoring in a way to steer me in the right direction?

    I have an answer book but that provides too much info. I'm just need a nudge or the ability to figure out one small hurdle.


  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2010 #2
    You're gonna fail if you don't know algebra.
  4. Feb 4, 2010 #3

    Gee thanks! That was helpful!

    Now that the thread has been bumped up I'll reiterate:

    Will an advanced CAS calculator assist me in mastering Algebra? I am at the point where I run into small glitches such as strange factoring and would love to have a utility that would solve that one part of an equation. Yea I know I could there are online emulators but I'd prefer a calculator I can tote about easier. My instructor says we can't use CAS calcs as they do provide such answers and aren't allowed on exams. I have a TI 84+ that I have issues with. I'm using RPN on occasion with my HP35s and like that option....

    As of now I'm resorting to the answer key and it of course has the answer..... I just need to generate hints on occasion...


  5. Feb 4, 2010 #4


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    My thoughts are that it would just be a crutch. And since you could only use it for homework it would do more harm than good as the crutch would be removed at the most important times.

    Spending time with someone who can better guide you and possibly see where your issues are (such as the instructor or a tutor) is a much better idea.
  6. Feb 4, 2010 #5


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    Homework Helper

    Which is why the OP is asking for help to improve his abilities on the subject...?

    I second S_Happen. Since you're mostly getting stuck on the procedure to solve the problem, rather than just getting the wrong answers through silly mistakes it's best if you get a tutor to guide you through it. The calculator doesn't explain to you how to factorize, it just gives you the answer, which is what you want to avoid.

    Once you know the steps though, using a calculator can be very helpful as you can check your work with it after you've already answered the question. If both answers contradict each other then you know you have to go back and search for where you made the error.
  7. Feb 4, 2010 #6
    I think this is just about where I'm at. As I said I find the answer keys in the book provide too much.

    After spending much of the past 5 hours working some problems I have come to the conclusion I like the HP way better vs the TI84+. I really appreciate the way HP has things like sqt on the top level and the dern thing is just more readable.

    BTW if anyone has a HP50g handy does it enter fractions the same as the 35s?
    Where .3.4 reads as 3/4? After about 50 involved equations the little things stand out!


  8. Feb 4, 2010 #7
    I use an HP 50, mostly for exams since I have access to Mathematica and it is a lot easier to use.

    HP has a reputation among older engineers and other technically inclined people, whereas the TI's are more ingrained with younger students.

    I used both of them (we used TI calculators in high school and I bought an HP50g in college). I find it has a steeper learning curve, but it can do more, but many of its functions are quite advanced, so the extra features are not going to be useful to you.

    College Algebra can really only benefit from a basic CAS, so any calculator which has symbolic manipulation capabilities will suffice if you are not planning on taking Calculus and beyond.

    Unless you want the calculator regardless, or are planning on going up through Calculus II and beyond, you might want to save your money, since it is not going to give you an edge on the exam.

    One completely free alternative would be Wolfram Alpha, which employs the Mathematica engine and will take a lot of its functions.

    For instance: Solve[Ln[x]/(62x^2)==Log[10,x],x]

    It is completely free, it will help you with your homework just as well as a CAS enabled calculator, and you can still buy the calculator down the road if you are allowed to use it on exams.
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