1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Courses Which instrument would be a better tool for advanced physics courses?

  1. Mar 2, 2012 #1
    This question may be in the wrong section and quite irrelevant for many of you. Anyway, I need to buy a new calculator for my linear algebra course to deal with matrices and that stuff... which would you recommed I buy between the TI INSPIRE CX - CAS and the TI 89 TITANIUM? These are the ones my professor recommends but IDK which of these will be a better... investment for future courses (engineering physics) (they both cost the same in my country, around 200 us dollars) since I wouldn't want to buy one only for this course and then have to buy another one.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 2, 2012 #2
    In my experience, get the cheapest one possible. Anything that requires computation in upper level courses does not require an advanced calculator.
  4. Mar 2, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    On top of this, it has been my experience that if a complex calculation or visualization of results is needed, then a computer package is often preferred in place of a handheld calculator device.
  5. Mar 2, 2012 #4
    Calculators that are capable of symbolic calculation (integration, etc.) carry a hefty price premium. These days it doesn't make any sense to pay that premium unless you need to have those functions in a small portable package.

    Really, just buy a high-end non-graphing calculator like the Sharp EL-516 or Casio fx-991ES for under $20.

    Both can do just about any non-symbolic task a calculator needs to do.

    Anything they can't do, use wxMaxima (it is free).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxima_(software [Broken])
    This will be sufficient to check your Linear Algebra homework.

    Later, if you are doing serious numerical computation, you can use something like Octave (similar to Matlab).
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Mar 2, 2012 #5
    I'd go with CAS CX. There seems to be a lot of stubborn "pencil and paper or matlab, no in between" on these forums.

    I have a CAS CX, and it's main utility is just to check if I'm wrong, or to make a calculation without access to a computer easier. I'm not always in front of mathematica or matlab, so I need to use a calculator to check if an integral is correct. And the utility and simplicity of the input of the CAS CX is unrivaled.

    I sold my 89 Titanium and bought the CAS CX when it came out... best purchase I've made as a physics student.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook