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

Nathan Moore ntmoore at gmail.com
Tue Nov 20 16:39:46 EST 2007

> 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
gnuplot with some sort of language (perl or fortran depending on how long
the job will run), or offer mathematica as an option.

> 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 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.

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Nathan Moore
Assistant Professor, Physics
Winona State University
AIM: nmoorewsu
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