Home > Website of the Week Archive Detail

<< Prev 8/28/2005 Next >>

Java Slide Rule

In contrast to the other sites that have been reviewed, this site is quite unusual...and perhaps of interest primarily to those who either consider themselves to be old-timers or have an interest in the historical aspects of mathematics. For example, I can still remember the excitement of carrying my first teflon-coated sliderule, hanging on my belt loop...and as students, we used to have "problem-fights...draw, partner...first one done with the ten problems to 4 places of accuracy is the winner!" Ah, the good old days....now I watch as students do the same, only it is "graphing-fights...punch the buttons, partner...first one done finding the best windows for the ten graphs is the winner!"

Enough with the nostalgia and on with the review of the website, which is a on-screen version of a slide rule, coded in Java. Use the mouse to move the plastic window (i.e. cursor) and the slide, as the stock stays fixed. For example, whether an old-timer or someone new to the operation of slide rules, try to figure out the answer to both 0.045 x 0.57 or 0.045/0.57 to 2-digits of precision. Unfortunately, in the old days, the answers did not magically appear in white print to umteen decimal places, as this model does.

Then, if you really want to explore the connections between slide rules and mathematics, try to figure out what each of the various scales mean and how they work. You might want to step out an do some exploring of a topic known as nomography.

Source: Slide Rule link