RPN vs Algebraic Mode on calculators.

In summary: I only read about RPN. I don't want to use it and never will. It just seems counter intuitive to me. For my calculus courses, one of the requirements was to have at least a TI-83+. I rather enter the equations as I see them, rather than do the translation to RPN notation is my head. It seems that I will be prone to always be making errors in the translation.I think it's important to be comfortable with both RPN and algebraic modes. You'll be using RPN more often in calculus, so it's important to get used to it. You'll also need to be comfortable with the graphing functions on most calculators, so
  • #1
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I've recently bought a Hp 50g calculator and it offers the RPN mode which the Ti's don't have. I've been using algebraic mode up until now and I heard that RPN still beats it in the long run. I know that you can save many key strokes with RPN but it will definitely take me some time to learn the functions. Also, I am not allowed to use a graphing calc on most of my tests so I have to stick with my casio which is in algebraic mode. Is using both algebraic and RPN a good thing? Will I ever get them so confused that I will waste time on my tests/hw?? I'm a sophomore and I'm planning to use this calc next year for calculus and the SAT Is/IIs. Should I get confortable with this calc and use it on the tests? Will it benefit me for some problems?? What do you all think? Thanks for your responses in advance. :smile:
 
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  • #2
I became an RPN convert back in my second year university (almost 15 years ago) when I bought an HP 28S (still use it today). RPN has become second nature enough so that I have to think a little when I go back to using a regular calculator (which isn't too often). I wouldn't worry too much about getting them mixed up.

To get around the no graphing calculator rule, one thing you can do is go out and get yourself a cheap little HP 12C, 33s or other similar single line calculator. Then you can stick with RPN all the way.
 
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  • #3
RPN rules. When you have become familiar with that notation, you will zip through calculations that used to seem tedious. I got my first HP back in '76 or so, when I went back to college to take some courses that related to my jobs in soils testing, materials inspection, etc. I aced my surveying course, and I credit that not only to my understanding of trig, but to the fact that my calculator helped me finish every test early, with time to go back and double-check my work. Choosing an RPN calculator may seem counter-intuitive at first, but it worked out very well for me. Try some on-line calculator simulations and see if you can adapt smoothly. If you can adapt, go with RPN.
 
  • #4
I still use my HP-15C, cannot use an algebraic calculator, it seems counterintuitive to me now.
 
  • #5
Dr Transport said:
I still use my HP-15C, cannot use an algebraic calculator, it seems counterintuitive to me now.
Yeah, this is the thing I'm most concerned about. Since I'm only a Sophomore in high school. I don't know if I will encounter many complex equations. Mabye I will next year, when I'm taking calculus, but otherwise I don't see how RPN can benefit me now. Will I use RPN and calculators a lot when I'm taking calculus? Will I use the graphing section of the calc a lot??
 
  • #6
AznBoi said:
Yeah, this is the thing I'm most concerned about. Since I'm only a Sophomore in high school. I don't know if I will encounter many complex equations. Mabye I will next year, when I'm taking calculus, but otherwise I don't see how RPN can benefit me now. Will I use RPN and calculators a lot when I'm taking calculus? Will I use the graphing section of the calc a lot??

I couldn't tell you, graphing calculators were very expensive when I was in college taking calculus if they actually existed at all. I will say that I didn't use a calculator in any of my math courses during my years getting my BS. The most I ever used my calculator was in lab courses where we had to analyze data in class before we left for the day (we couldn't take our data out of the lab for any reason and we didn't have computers).
 
  • #7
AznBoi said:
Yeah, this is the thing I'm most concerned about. Since I'm only a Sophomore in high school. I don't know if I will encounter many complex equations. Mabye I will next year, when I'm taking calculus, but otherwise I don't see how RPN can benefit me now. Will I use RPN and calculators a lot when I'm taking calculus? Will I use the graphing section of the calc a lot??

I only read about RPN. I don't want to use it and never will. It just seems counter intuitive to me. For my calculus courses, one of the requirements was to have at least a TI-83+. I rather enter the equations as I see them, rather than do the translation to RPN notation is my head. It seems that I will be prone to always be making errors in the translation. How often do you see "5 1 +" rather than "5 + 1" or "3 − 4 + 5" written as "3 4 − 5 +"? I doubt you will use RPN notation in your calculus courses as the majority uses infix notation.
 
  • #8
I never found calculators to be very useful for any of the calculus courses I took. Most everything was done symbolically, and only very rarely did we ever need to plug numbers into the equations. Of course how much you use calculators in your class will depend entirely on what kind of work your teacher gives you.
 
  • #9
As a sophomore in high school you will have many opportunities to crunch numbers. You will never regret learning RPN. The further you go in math the LESS you will use a calculator. But if you pursue engineering then a calculator will be essential, and the more efficient the calculator the better.

Take a few minutes and learn to use RPN, you will never look back.

My trouble is that the first calculator I ever used was a HP (HP35 back in '73) I have never learned to use anything else and struggle any time I have to use a non RPN.
 
  • #10
I didn't see if it was specifically mentioned yet or not, but the biggest advantage of RPN and the stack-based paradigm is that you don't have to worry about nested parenthesis and multiple numerator and denominator and operator groups of numbers. You just solve whatever from the inside-out, and use the stack to intuitively process the longer equations.

When I try to use a standard calculator, I'm always having to plan ahead and store temporary results in memory registers (and remember where they are), or try to enter parenthesis and get the number of them correct. I think it only took me a couple hours way back in my freshman year of college to learn the basics of RPN (I still remember my hands shaking when I pulled that old HP25 or whatever it was out of the box...great stuff), and I've always been frustrated with non-RPN calculators since.

I'd say give RPN a try, and make your own evaluation in your classwork.

I use a Windows emulation of an RPN calculator called RPNcalc.exe. You can google it to find a download site that you trust. It's a bit dumpy the way the functions are overloaded on the keys, but still easier for me to use than the standard Windows calculator.
 
  • #11
Which RPNcalc?

Hello berkeman,

there are several RPNcalc's on the run. Which one do you mean?

I myself offer a freeware 'RPNcalc' based on Javascript to be used within a popup window of any browser. If you meant mine (at www.h-bauer.de)[/URL], could you please specify what you meant with the "dumpy way the functions are overloaded on the keys"? Maybe i can do some optimization.

Thanks, Hans Bauer
 
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  • #12
The further you go in math the LESS you will use a calculator
Well that actually depends, if you go into numerical methods a calculator can really come in handy.

Heck even in my differential geometry course, having the ti-89 next to me is nice as it's symbolic algebra system can save me a lot of tedious steps where I am prone to make mistakes (the more math I learn, the more I question if my algebra was right, because if I make one silly mistake it will come back and bite me).

As for RPN vs. Algebraic calculators, I personally think that the algebraic system just makes more sense. You type it in just as you would write out the problem on a sheet of paper and manipulate from there. RPN, at least to me, through my limited usage, is overly counter-intuative.

If you have the time, I guess you could learn to use both...but I see no harm in just picking the one that you are most confortable with and using it. (Though for the SAT's and your math tests where you aren't alloud to use a graphing calculator...it might be a better idea to swap between graphing and non-graphing regularly while you do homework so as to not become so use to one calculator that you don't get confused when you have to switch).
 
  • #13
A calculator is pretty slow for any significant numerical analysis algorithm, you really need a computer.

Yes, I have studied numerical analysis, at the post graduate level. I did use my HP28c to do some simple iterative schemes, It make it possible to do some work in the park on a sunny day.


Since you do not use RPN you do not like it...Seems that everyone who has got stuck with a TI says the same thing. :rofl:
 
  • #14
berkeman said:
I didn't see if it was specifically mentioned yet or not, but the biggest advantage of RPN and the stack-based paradigm is that you don't have to worry about nested parenthesis and multiple numerator and denominator and operator groups of numbers. You just solve whatever from the inside-out, and use the stack to intuitively process the longer equations.

When I try to use a standard calculator, I'm always having to plan ahead and store temporary results in memory registers (and remember where they are), or try to enter parenthesis and get the number of them correct. I think it only took me a couple hours way back in my freshman year of college to learn the basics of RPN (I still remember my hands shaking when I pulled that old HP25 or whatever it was out of the box...great stuff), and I've always been frustrated with non-RPN calculators since.

yes, the Stack. I love the stack. There have been countless times I've gotten the wrong answer out of an algebraic calculator because I messed up parentheses (number, order, etc). Once you figure out the stack and how to manipulate it, RPN becomes your best friend.
 
  • #15
Hans Bauer said:
Hello berkeman,

there are several RPNcalc's on the run. Which one do you mean?

I myself offer a freeware 'RPNcalc' based on Javascript to be used within a popup window of any browser. If you meant mine (at www.h-bauer.de)[/URL], could you please specify what you meant with the "dumpy way the functions are overloaded on the keys"? Maybe i can do some optimization.

Thanks, Hans Bauer[/QUOTE]

Hi Hans, No, it wasn't your calculator software. It's a different one, and the function overloading on the keys wasn't done very well, IMO. After all, why not show all the keys anyway, since it's on a CRT and not limited by a small keyboard.

I followed your link, and your calculator version looks pretty good. I'll try downloading and using it when I have time. Thanks.
 
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  • #16
Thanks for the answer of berkeman

The intention for my RPNcalculator was to perform 'simple' calculations using the rpn-method, not to implement all the numerous features of my hp50g. Thus i implemented only the keys needed for calculatons.

I have to do a lots of calculations due to my job (civil engineering) and sometimes i could not find my hp50g on my heavily loaded desk. I needed a replacement for my work, demanding only a small section of my monitor (the rest is occupied by other applications) and allowing me using my easier to find keyboard. So if you test my RPNcalculator, please don't expect a fully qualified rpn-machine, just try it for simple calculations but with all necessary keys for this.

But above all, thank you a lot for your reply.
Best wishes, Hans Bauer
 
  • #17
Dear Hans:

Thank you very much for your freeware RPN calculator. I love it. Nice simple interface that let's me use the numeric keypad, visible stack, etc. A very good replacement for my old 29C when I don't need programmability and need to do some basic calculations at my desk. I have put a bookmark to the executable file on the tool bar of Firefox, so it will always be one click away. Thanks again!
 

1. What is the difference between RPN and Algebraic Mode on calculators?

RPN (Reverse Polish Notation) and Algebraic Mode are two different methods for entering and solving mathematical equations on a calculator. In RPN, the operator is entered after the numbers, while in Algebraic Mode, the operator is entered in between the numbers.

2. Which mode is more efficient for solving equations on a calculator?

This depends on personal preference and familiarity. Some people find RPN to be more efficient because it eliminates the need for parentheses and allows for quicker calculations. Others prefer Algebraic Mode because it follows the traditional order of operations.

3. Can I switch between RPN and Algebraic Mode on my calculator?

Most calculators have the option to switch between these two modes. However, some may only have one mode available. It is best to consult the user manual or do some research on your specific calculator to determine if it has this feature.

4. Which mode is commonly used in scientific and engineering fields?

RPN is more commonly used in scientific and engineering fields due to its efficiency in performing calculations. It is also often used in financial and accounting industries.

5. Are there any advantages or disadvantages to using RPN or Algebraic Mode?

The main advantage of RPN is its efficiency in performing calculations and eliminating the need for parentheses. However, it may take some time to get used to the different method of entering equations. Algebraic Mode follows the traditional order of operations, but can be more time consuming for complex calculations. Ultimately, it depends on personal preference and familiarity.

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