[Beowulf] Teaching Scientific Computation (looking for the perfect
landman at scalableinformatics.com
Tue Nov 20 14:39:29 PST 2007
Nathan Moore wrote:
> > Nathan,
> > I'm sure you'll get lots of very experienced responses but if I may:
> > 1. Book. K&RC is the best book ever, on any subject.
> > 2. Demographics. It looked to me that engineers were typically
> > learning and using C (C++, C with Classes, sometimes Java) more than
> > Fortran. I would have expected similar among physicists, but I
> > understand that a lot of Fortan is still extant and vital. Also there
> > is some convergence, ultimately it won't matter much.
> But for solving a problem (as opposed to learning to get a job
> programming) what about something like Matlab? It's procedural, there
> are compilers (sort of), and it automatically does stuff with matrices
> in sensible ways.
> No site license for matlab here - I generally have my students couple
After taking students through the joys of programming, I showed them how
to do masses with springs on Octave. What a difference. As Jim Lux
noted, you spend less time dealing with the vagaries of the language and
more time helping them articulate a solution (though this particular
example is bad in that you have many signs you need to correctly and
carefully account for ... sign errors are a bear in any language)
> gnuplot with some sort of language (perl or fortran depending on how
> long the job will run), or offer mathematica as an option.
I also like Maxima.
landman at lightning:~$ maxima
Maxima 5.12.0 http://maxima.sourceforge.net
Using Lisp GNU Common Lisp (GCL) GCL 2.6.7 (aka GCL)
Distributed under the GNU Public License. See the file COPYING.
Dedicated to the memory of William Schelter.
This is a development version of Maxima. The function bug_report()
provides bug reporting information.
I used to try to have it help simplify integrals in statistical
mechanics homework from (owie) 18 years ago.
> I would certainly eschew any of the fads for "Engineering with Excel"
> which make my teeth grind when I hear about it. Every time one of my
> colleagues creates this incredibly elaborate spreadsheet to calculate
> receiver performance (gain distribution, intermodulation, etc.) I have
> to wonder how many hours were spent working around the idiosyncracies
> of Excel (just to get the plot to look right, if nothing else), when
> they could have spent that time learning a "real" tool to do the job.
> Yes, I agree, there is no more asinine task than matrix calculations in
> excel. I keep waiting for Microsoft to have competent-looking graphs be
For fun^h^h^hprofit^h^h^h^h^h^hmasochism I once did a Runge-Kutta orbit
calculator in Excel.
Yes, you can use it for such things ... but ... why would you want to?
> the default when plotting x&y data. The new version it even worse than
> XP excel. The plots are rendered with some sort of open GL surface so
> that trend lines now look like giant ropes of licorice.
Heh... I still like Gnuplot, as you can programmatically generate input
decks for it, and have it generate png/jpg/ps/pdf from this ...
Joseph Landman, Ph.D
Founder and CEO
Scalable Informatics LLC,
email: landman at scalableinformatics.com
web : http://www.scalableinformatics.com
phone: +1 734 786 8423
fax : +1 866 888 3112
cell : +1 734 612 4615
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