Monday, October 1, 2012

Hand Calculated vs Computer

It has become apparent to me that use of the computer has become a impediment to good engineering. I started in this business with a slide rule and a Curtiss, and if you know both, you will know how I was trained. Cancel out, do the simple, and then approximate, and finally work out the mantissa. Then those expensive hand held calculators...  worth a weeks pay.
We drew graphs by hand, and remembered the values of the results.
Now the young cannot divide by three and multiply by ten on paper. Draw a graph, one minutes work, without a computer, forget it.
I feel for the next generation, when a problem arises, the young will flail for days to find a solution.
For some of these problems, I have simple numerical solution, which I learned at Uni, that produce an approximate solution. Some of them are as reliable as modern computer solutions. In one case, one of the new wonderful computer programs actually uses crappy approximate method, but provides "calibration" questions to "evaluate" parameters that are listed in the formula found in a 1923 publication. Mind you, the computer is quick at raising a number to the 0.564.

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