[Beowulf] Teaching Scientific Computation (looking for the perfect text)

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Wed Nov 21 06:47:16 PST 2007

On Tue, 20 Nov 2007, Joshua Baker-LePain wrote:

>> You do raise an interesting question.  Would one student running an 
>> application on N machines need N copies under their academic student 
>> license?
> Almost certainly yes.

Raise that to certainly yes.  I have a student who is using matlab this
semester for an extensive project, and this was an issue we looked at.

At Duke it doesn't much matter as students are site licensed for
unlimited copies IIRC, but it mattered very much on the toolbox issue.
My student somehow managed to "acquire" toolboxes for some of the stuff
he was working on -- NNs and GAs -- and I simply have avoided inquiring
too closely into how.  By the time you add a couple of $80 or so
toolboxes to that $100, you're starting to talk real money, and a LOT
more than textbooks for any course.

What's even more absurd is that we're training these students to use
matlab so that one day they'll go out and buy in a corporate
environment.  So we're paying matlab -- a lot -- for the right to teach
students to use their product.

Grrr, I say, Grrr.

I personally would say SCREW their product and require students to only
use Octave and if anything devote a matlab site license's worth of FTE
labor to contribute to the octave project to get it to where it too has
toolboxes and perhaps better graphics.  If ten or twenty Universities
did this, in two years matlab would be all done and a few thousand
universities would save a bundle.



Robert G. Brown
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Web: http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb
Lulu Bookstore: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=877977

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