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Education Portables Hardware

What's Out There for Handheld Math? 92

Posted by Cliff
from the better-than-an-abacus dept.
PowerVegetable asks: "What's the story with handheld computation? Not address books and schedule reminders; I'm talking about the type of stuff computers were invented for. Anyone who's used Mathematica or Maple knows what desktop computers are capable of these days math-wise, but handheld computation seems to have fallen behind on the innovation front. Cell phones and handheld game systems have certainly enjoyed rapid advancement, so where are the handheld mathematical portable oracles? What's available that doesn't have obscure menu systems, bad displays, underpowered processors and unwieldy programming languages? Pickings are slim in the hard-coded calculator industry, but what about Pocket PC's or other programmable portables? Is there any portable solution out there that's more capable than my old HP49g?"
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What's Out There for Handheld Math?

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  • Ummm.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hanji (626246) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:45PM (#7605593)
    Ti (Texas Instruments) calculators are quite powerful, especially the Ti-89 and above. 3D graphing, symbolic just about everything, ...

    Unless I missed something skimming the post, seems like a good solution...
    • The TI-89 has decent functionality but it is still rather slow. Even when doing integrals/approximations it can bog down.

      The 3d graphing is also terribly slow.
    • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

      You are.

      Calculators are all very well, but I want something that can do symbolic manipulation, stats, graphing, data logging & manipulation (ie {(x1,y1)...(xn,yn) -> (a1,b1)...(am,bm)}, where n=/=m. See, I can't even write something that simple properly). I want my input device to be a pen, not a billion buttons whose functions I cannot decode without a manual four times the size of the device itself.

      It doesn't need to be super-fancy. B&W is fine, but some graphics would be nice.

      At the moment,
      • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647)
        Tablet PC.
        (Not a troll - the Tablet PC was designed for people like you)
      • Re:Ummm.... (Score:4, Informative)

        by xenocide2 (231786) on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @12:38AM (#7606694) Homepage
        The TI 92 is like a portable computer. Symbolic manipulation? Check. Indefinite integration? Done. graphing? Yes. The thing has a qwerty keyboard underneath the display. The 89 is essentially a 92 in regular TI style. I can't recall which language you program the both in, but I'd imagine it has the standard TI BASIC at least. The UI is menu based, similar to the TI 85/86 with more visual description.

        Since its got a keyboard, you won't have to look up many key functions, unless you have a hard time with the alphabet.
        • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by afidel (530433)
          Actually what you do with Ti calculators is put your commonly used functions (Sumation, Integration, Derivation, etc) into your custom menu, then calling it up is only two keys away, one for custom menu, the second for it's numeric quick-key =) Spelling functions out does not work most of the time as the functions are called by an internal symbol which is represented by a human readable lable. The biggest problem with the Ti92/89 is that their CPU is DOG slow. The best solution I have seen is to run a Ti-89
        • There is a version of GCC that's able to compile C for a TI-89/92+. Available here [ticalc.org]. And, it does, of course, have TI-BASIC.
        • The TI89/92 can be programmed with TI Basic and Assembler.
          But as somebody mentioned other compilers are available.
      • I've completely replaced paper notebooks in my life with a PDA and have been doing so for the last 3 years. I take all of my notes on my PDA, do my math on it, etc. Even if I'm just doing the calculations myself, writing them out, I do it in a notes app on the PDA- I can edit my writings in a far cleaner way.

        To each his own though- I know a ton of people who love the way paper feels above all else. And that's fine, but not for me. You can't grep a dead tree.
        • You seem to have achieved geek nirvana. Inquiring minds want to know all about your hardware, OS, applications, etc.
          • OK, this post may be long. I've had a number of iterations of hardware, OS and apps over the years, but I'll give a couple of them to you with some comments.

            1st Gen:
            The first iteration of my paper-less setup was a Newton MP2100, keyboard, 8 MB flash card, and 3com ethernet card. I owned 3 other PDAs before this (Newton OMP, MP120/OS 1.3, and a VTech Helio running Linux), though none of them were this good. In most ways, this Newton was still the best PDA I've ever had. It was by far the best PDA I ha
            • A very informative post =) Thanks for the info.

              I've noticed that doing sketches on PDAs always looks like a 6-year old's drawings. I wonder if it's because the drawing surface of the PDA doesn't have any friction like a piece of paper would. Even attempting to draw with a mouse in a paint application tends to yield the same results.

              One thing I did notice that helps is if you draw while in magnification mode, and then draw everything large, it doesn't look quite so kindergardenish when it's scaled back
            • The first iteration of my paper-less setup was a Newton MP2100, keyboard, 8 MB flash card, and 3com ethernet card. I owned 3 other PDAs before this...

              Gah. The MP2100 came out after I gave up on the Newton platform. If it had come out sooner, I'd probably be one of those people who won't accept that the Newton will never come back. Then again, if the MP2100 had come out sooner, the Newton might not have gone away.

              I wanted to run Squeak Smalltalk, my programming weapon of choice.

              Double Gah. I'm constantl

  • by arcadum (528303) on Monday December 01, 2003 @09:52PM (#7605658)
    i've been using Mathematica on my zaurus for a while know... here is where I learned about it. [poliplus.com]
  • I've found Easycalc [sourceforge.net] for Palm OS to be a small-yet-powerful package.
    • Easycalc is good, but without scripts and a mathematics keypad, it is nothing compared to my 83+, let alone my 89. In terms of speed, it depends on the machine. 200 mhz sony clie TG50 OS5. I wish palm pilots had FPUs, lol. So far the best machine for math is a laptop or an 89.
      • Easycalc is good, but without scripts and a mathematics keypad, it is nothing compared to my 83+, let alone my 89.

        Well, there's also LyME [calerga.com], and Mathpad [palmblvd.com]. Not exactly Mathematica or Matlab or Maple, but if you really need that kind of power you should carry a laptop with you...

      • but without scripts and a mathematics keypad, it is nothing compared to my 83+, let alone my 89.

        Another reply to your post mentioned it; I'll add my two cents: I run LyME [calerga.com] on my Palm IIIxe.

        I love it. For most stuff, it's perfectly adequate, and it's really great having much of Matlab in your back pocket with everything else that a well-used PDA carries.

        I use my little old Palm for everything. Replying to e-mail (Eudora for Palm) on the PDA during downtime somewhere requires a keyboard. As such, I have it

  • Symbolic Calculator (Score:5, Informative)

    by timdaly (539918) on Monday December 01, 2003 @10:39PM (#7605964)
    Maxima, a general purpose computer algebra system runs on the zaurus. Yacas, another computer algebra system runs on the zaurus. Axiom is coming shortly (once the glibc issue gets resolved). Octave runs on the zaurus. These are open source, freely available, research quality computer algebra systems. More are on the way.
  • by jensend (71114)
    If the HP 49G+ is insufficient for your handheld computation needs, you're in a really unusual position. What exactly are you wanting your calculator to do?
    • Re:gee. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mad Marlin (96929) <cgore@cgore.com> on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:16PM (#7606289) Homepage
      If the HP 49G+ is insufficient for your handheld computation needs, you're in a really unusual position. What exactly are you wanting your calculator to do?

      He said 49G, no +. The 49G+ is pretty good though. 75-MHz 32-bit ARM9 CPU, 2.5-MB of RAM, and an SD card port, which can hold more than 512-MB. Anything handheld with more power would be called a PDA. And, after you get it, download my library [earthlink.net] of 116 additional functions for it.

      • He linked to the 49G+'s page when he was saying that dedicated calculators offered only slim pickings; that's why I referenced it. Of course, the 49G does just about everything the 49G+ does, it just takes 3x the time to do it.
  • The closest thing to what what he's looking for is the DOS version of Derive [ti.com] running on the Hewlett-Packard HP200LX [daniel-hertrich.de], a 80186 (not a typo) based DOS handheld. (A bit of searching should turn up a demo.)

    Derive for DOS is old and the interface is a bit clunky (compared to Maple or Mathematica), but it beat the tar out of a HP48. Heck, on a 200LX, it's probably still the best and most usable symbolic math package in something approaching the size of a scientific calculator. (Though that may be changing wit
    • The closest thing to what what he's looking for is the DOS version of Derive running on the Hewlett-Packard HP200LX, a 80186 (not a typo) based DOS handheld. (A bit of searching should turn up a demo.)

      The CAS used on the TI-89, TI-92, etc., is Derive.

      • The CAS used on the TI-89, TI-92, etc., is Derive.

        Interesting, I didn't know that. I always wondered why TI bought out those guys.

        Still, I believe that the HP 200LX+Derive combo is superior to the 68k based TIs because of greater RAM and a better display, not to mention the integrated PIM software (which was very good for its time) and DOS compatibility of the 200LX.

        It's a pity Derive never came out for Palm or WinCE.
    • The 200LX is the best product HP ever made.

      See Palmtop.net [palmtop.net] for more info. I still use mine after 5 years....
    • I used to work for Convergent Technologies, which made 80186 systems running a proprietary OS [cs.uu.nl]. This is the first time I've heard of an 80186 DOS system. I've often wondered why the industry basically skipped that processor.
      • It's because IBM screwed up when they designed the BIOS for the IBM PC. If you look at the Intel 8086/8088 data book, Intel reserved some of the interrupt vectors for future use. IBM used some of these reserved vectors in their BIOS. This caused problems for IBM PC compatible computers based on later Intel chips, which used some of the reserved vectors.
  • ti-89? (Score:3, Informative)

    by aggieben (620937) <{aggieben} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:18PM (#7606299) Homepage Journal
    Good grief, man. Of all the things you said you wanted, what can't be done on a ti-89 or an hp49g (or whatever it is...I'm a ti-89 guy...can't stand postfix notation.)

    Having said that, there's a nice open source clone of matlab out there called octave. You might be able to run it on a zaurus running linux or something.
    • Enough said. I have yet to meet math that I need to do that, after suitable prodding, my TI-89 has been unable to calculate for me.
      • Well, to be fair, you probably haven't done much math past the most introductory university level then. Exterior Calculus, Abstract Algebra, Real and Complex Analysis, PDE's, etc.
    • You do realize that the 49G can operate in algebraic mode, don't you?

      In fact, the documentation is written entirely assuming algebraic mode, enraging engineers and other professionals who had used HP calculators for years...

  • by Mordant (138460) on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:18PM (#7606300)
    I can add and subtract numbers less than or equal to ten with no problems!
  • I don't get it... Don't they make PDAs powered by Linux... and don't they make math programs for Unix....? What's the problem?
    • Just because you can recompile some math app for the Z doesn't mean it's the best option. You can target Octave for the Zaurus, but it's a pain in the ass to use without any sort of interface created specifically for a handheld.

      No wonder... it's this kind of attitude that seems to convince people that recompiling is taking a port far enough- no wonder there are more good Unix adaptations for WinCE than there are for the Zaurus. :P
  • by Trelane (16124) on Monday December 01, 2003 @11:37PM (#7606403) Journal
    Calculon [handango.com] (does 2d&3d charts and also allows you to change variables to see how it affects things, etc. I don't think it integrates, although I may be wrong)

    Formulae 1 [handango.com] (for writing formulae and recording 'em; I don't think it does a whole lot of calculations, but I could be wrong. Note that it requires Java)

    Finally, there's QPlot, which is essentially a frontend to bc.
  • In particular, is there any system for math
    handwriting recognition. Something which could
    interpret definite integrals, norms of matrices,
    and ideally more sophisticated things like
    group-theoretical and topological notations.
  • by Chris Tucker (302549) on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @02:57AM (#7607194) Homepage
    Depending upon my whim and need for accuracy past a few decimal points, either my Pickett Microline 120 [ozmanor.com] or my TI SR-40 [devidts.com].

    Why, yes. As a matter of fact, I am an old fart. Why do you ask?

    • either my Pickett Microline 120 or my TI SR-40.

      Ah, the murderer and its victim, reunited in your desk drawer.

      I do my handheld crunching with an assortment:

      • Pickett N3T, retrofitted with a magnifying cursor off one of the xx-MES series (because my arm is getting shorter)
      • Ecobra 1461 for trig in degrees
      • Texas Instruments TI-30XII for routine stuff (love the keyboard, display, and one-touch variables)
      • Casio FX-991MS for matrices and systems of equations with too much nasty stuff to do by hand, vector featu
      • So BigBlockMopar sez:

        "either my Pickett Microline 120 or my TI SR-40.

        Ah, the murderer and its victim, reunited in your desk drawer."

        Well, desktop, actually. As for murderer, the culprit would be the HP-35, not my T.I. SR-40. T.I. wishes they were the first.

        I need to get a battery and chager for my 35 one of these days.

        I also do need to get a better slide rule. The Pickett is just fine, but after all, it IS just a Microline.

        Thanks for the tip about LyME! That's a new one to me.

        • Well, desktop, actually. As for murderer, the culprit would be the HP-35, not my T.I. SR-40. T.I. wishes they were the first.

          I know, I know. I wasn't being brand-specific. Pickett was still in business until at least 2000 (selling drafting rulers, etc.). And it wasn't the TI which killed the sliderule, just the scientific calculator in general.

          I need to get a battery and chager for my 35 one of these days.

          Good luck. I've never had an HP-35; if the battery is pretty easy (in shape and voltage), then you

  • Others said EasyCalc which is a very good calculator for Palm's. If you want symbolic capabilities check Meditor. It is portable without losing any symbolic features.

    Description from the sf project:

    java symbolic computing library and mathematical editor, with : polynomial system solving, vectors & matrices, factorization, derivatives, integrals (rational functions), boolean algebra, simplification, MathML output, java code generation

  • by You're All Wrong (573825) on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @07:21AM (#7607847)

    It's a bit like Mathematica, but faster, GPL'ed and amazingly well supported (i.e. bugs get fixed within days of reporting).

    • Runs on WinCE/PocketPC PDAs as well as the Zaurus (and other Linux PDAs).
      • Portability would seem to be a design goal. I'm downloading the Windows binary as we speak. There are also notes on running it on Mac (both 9 and X).
    • When you say that it is a bit like Mathematica, what exactly do you mean? When you say it is a bit like Mathematica, do you just mean that it's a math app, and Mathematica is your only frame of reference? Or do they have similar strengths or syntax?

      From my understanding, Pari/GP's concentration is number theory where Mathematica's is symbolic computation.

      I have used Matlab/Octave, Mathematica, and Maxima but never Pari/GP and I'm curious what Pari/GP can do. I've the most experience with Matlab/Octave, a
      • heheh, put it this way, when I used Mma, (and I still ahve it here), all I sued if for was it's number-theoretic functionality, which I found to be superior (either in functionality or usability) to Maple, MathCad, Octave, and Maxima, which I uninstalled after only brief mucking around.

        I appreciate that I probably never even looked at 90% of mathematica (although when bored I would sometimes just browse the manuals and run the examples).

        Pari/GP is certainly more number-theoretic based. Pari/GP will do sym
  • I need to get my hands on a Ti-8x calculator, Algebra II trig/Calc will kill my aging Ti-30.

    I like the Ti30, simple scientific calc, single line display though, and with anything higher than algebra 1 type stuff you REALLY need more firepower (I should have gotten one three years ago, I see they haven't dropped in price at all).

    I'm all for the TI's.
  • PalmOS - LyME (Score:3, Informative)

    by sysadmn (29788) <sysadmn@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @08:51AM (#7608234) Homepage
    If you're using a PalmOS-based device, look into Lyme & Sysquake from Calerga [calerga.com]. It's a free mostly-Matlab compatible math language. From the website:
    LyME is a port of LME ("Lightweight Math Engine", the heart of SysQuake) to Palm OS handheld devices. It implements more than 360 native commands, functions and operators, mostly compatible with Matlab, and 70 functions written in LME. It requires Palm OS 3.1 or higher and at least 1.5 MBytes of free memory. Palm OS 3.5 or higher is preferred; Palm OS 5 offers optimal performance and functionality.
    Excellent documentation is available here [calerga.com].
  • One I like to use although it is arguable if it is more capable than your 49G is RDCalc. I have downloaded it and played with it a bit. It seemed capable but the demo period simply was not enough to evaluate it properly. Still worth checking out though, as it is one of the most complete calculator apps I was able to find for the pocket pc.

    http://ravend.com/ [ravend.com]
  • I've been pretty happy with Maxima on Windows CE. In my case, I'm using it on WinCE.NET 4.1 on a device with a real touch-typeable keyboard, which is a dream- but it'd work just as well on a PocketPC. Alongside Maxima, I've got GNUplot working well too. I'm trying to get Xmaxima working, the integrated Maxima environment, but I've run into a couple snags and haven't had the time to look at it. There is an older version of Maple for WinCE, but I've not found any place to grab a copy. There are some othe
  • Power One:
    Finance, Scientific, Graphing flavors.
    Infinity Softworks [infinitysw.com]
    Alot like the HP, TI power scientific calcs. Has Pocket PC & Palm versions

    Has a powerful programming capability, but the UI is a bit rough. Only Palm, I think.
    ADACS [adacs.com]
  • It's pretty much roll-your-own, but lispme [lispme.de] provides access to a reasonable set of mathematical functions, and lisp in general is well-suited to functional programming (that is, building your own calculations).

  • Power48 (Score:2, Informative)

    by vlm (69642) *
    http://power48.mobilevoodoo.com/ [mobilevoodoo.com]

    Power48 runs on palms and palm compatibles and it emulates a HP48 at the hardware level.

    It is, however, slow and locks up by sony SJ-33 rather often.

    It's not as good as a real HP48 because there is no keyboard so it is very hard to tap and click as fast as you can type on a real HP48
  • I've been very happy carrying around an HP49G emulator on my Sony Clie. It's free, though it takes a bit of room on an external card. It's not limited to Sony devices. Check it [mobilevoodoo.com] out. [geek.com]
    • Ahhhhhh if only there was such a thing for my iPaq! :(

      I'd definitely be willing to pay to have a 48/49 emu for that thing - it's really the one killer app I feel like I'm missing. Yea, I know there's rdcalc and whatnot, but if it's not RPN, it's not a real calculator.
  • You can try LyME [calerga.com] from Calerga. It's a lightweight Matlab clone that runs on the Palm OS.

    And the best part: it's free! (as in beer)

  • I think that's what math's all about.
  • Reading through this listing inspired me, I am always searching for toys for my ppc, and am in a math class so hey. Ran across this forum [mobigeeks.net] thaht seemed to be talking about essentially the same thing, and specifically this calculator [vorwerk-stengel.com] seemed to be perfect. What do you all think?


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