Feeds

Super calculators make maths super-easy

Oh boy...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Researchers at the University of Swansea have come up with a new interface for pocket calculators that they say will make it even easier for people to solve difficult sums.

Instead of having to work out which order to input numbers, users of the prototype device need only transcribe the calculation as it appears on paper, and the calculator will do the rest, New Scientist reports. Inventor Harold Thimbleby explains that people get confused about the order they need to put information in to normal, button-based calculators, and that his alternative is more intuitive.

The calculator can also tackle problems that would be next to impossible to solve on a normal number-cruncher. For example, if a user enters the problem: x!=5040, Thimbleby's machine would be able to calculate x.

It uses character recognition software and the relative positions of the characters to work out what the calculation is. So users can enter a calculation just as it appears on paper, and the computer will work out what it means. Once the computer has "recognised" the characters, the user can move or amend them as needed.

Thimbleby and his team asked nine people to work out a variety of sums involving difficult bits of the calculator, like the brackets, square root functions and powers. He was surprised to discover that with standard calculators they managed to get the wrong answer 51 per cent of the time. For example, he says, to work out what 4 x -5 is, people tend to key in 4 x - 5, and so end up with the result -1.

However, using the input device he and his team came up with, the error rate dropped to 19 per cent.

Thimbleby suggests the device could be used as a teaching aid in the classroom. Plugged into an interactive whiteboard, it could tell a student if the answer proposed was correct, for example. ®

Related stories

How computers make kids dumb
Computers bad for kids
Ruth Kelly: transforming teaching with IT

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.