- View SourceDavid: Your thought about it being someone else than Eves bears looking

into. Neither my copy of the 1953 Edition, or my copy of the third Edition,

has the offending comments in it. Regards, Bill

-----Original Message-----

From: dbaeus [mailto:dmcfarla@...]

Sent: Friday, May 31, 2002 9:15 AM

To: sliderule@yahoogroups.com

Subject: SR Re: Blasphemy!

Airlines may provide food, but anyone who goes on one for that reason

is apt to be disappointed. Likewise for anyone who turns to a

mathematician for psychiatric diagnosis.

Seriously, though, I wouldn't be too harsh on Professor Eves over

this one misstatement, given all the good he has done over the

decades.

First, Howard Eves, if he is still alive, would be 91 years old. His

80th birthday was honored with a conference in 1991, which resulted

in a festschrift published by the Mathematical Association of America

(In Eves' Circles, Joby Milo Anthony, editor).

The blasphemous quotation is from the 6th (1990) edition of a book

originally published in 1953, when slide rules were in full swing.

This edition explicitly acknowledges extensive contributions by his

son, Jamie Eves, as well as suggestions from numerous users of

previous editions, so the offending quote may not have been entirely

Eves' own doing. I do not have any earlier edition handy, so do not

know when the quoted passage was added, or what was said about the

comparative merits of slide rules and calculators in earlier

editions. But I am sure the quoted item would NOT have been in the

1953 or 1964 editions.

At a time when many mathematicians ranged from indifferent to hostile

toward any sort of computation -- with the result that the then newly

organizing field of Computer Science often found a home in

Engineering rather than in Mathematics -- Eves treated computation as

an important stimulus toward mathematical advances, thus important

for understanding the history of mathematics.

Eves also corrected the widespread error of thinking that the

logarithms Napier himself invented are the "base e" or "Natural"

logarithms. On pages 308-311 he shows that 1/e, rather than e

itself, is the base of the logarithms Napier calculated -- but

furthermore Napier himself was not using the concept of a "base" the

way we do.

The quoted item does, however, suggest a question about this group:

HOW MANY OF US DO, IN FACT, REGULARLY USE OUR SLIDE RULES FOR

COMPUTATIONS?

My impression is that the group has a lot more discussion about how

to clean, polish, and display slide rules (for example) than about how

to perform any particular calculations on them. I, for one, have

slide rules both at home and in my office, but seldom use one of them

for a serious calculation. Even when an auto hitting an electric

pole shut down my computer recently, I took a break and did something

else, rather than continuing my calculations on a slide rule. The

slide rule calculation I do most often is 2x3=6, in demonstrations

for people unfamiliar with slide rules. Partly it is a matter of

slide rules not being suited for such tasks as finding eigenvalues of

a matrix or, for that matter, adding up a column of numbers (Yes, I

do have a Pickett with the X and Y scales). But even on slide rule

types of calculations I am likely to use a hand calculator or

computer. In this regard, slide rules are not the only things I

neglect: How often do any of us turn to our abaci, or sectors, or

nomographs, or books of mathematical tables, as aids in our everyday

calculations? Probably not even as often as we turn to our slide

rules. That's my guess. Has there been a group survey about how

often members actually use their slide rules for work-related

calculations?

So, I, at least, wouldn't get too worked up over that quoted line

from Eves. I do agree with Joe's overall evaluation of the book --

that apart from this one item, it is excellent. --David

--- In sliderule@y..., "josephpasquale" <pasquale@u...> wrote:

> I may have made a mistake the other day in recommending the book

"An Introduction to the History of Mathematics" by Howard Eves, a

professor at U. Maine. I had not read the following until now (p.

313): "for years the logarithmic slide rule, hanging from the belt in

a handsome leather case, was the badge of recognition of the

engineering students of a university campus. Today, however, with

the advent of the amazing and increasingly inexpensive little pocket

calculators, NO ONE IN HIS RIGHT MIND WOULD USE ... A SLIDE RULE FOR

CALCULATION PURPOSES."

> Perhaps we should write a letter of indignation to Prof. Eves.

> -Joe

> PS: Outside of this, the book is excellent.

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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed] - View SourceI know, that is one big problem with slide rules (at least the ones in my

collection). None of them handle that infinitesimal multiplication very well.

<<grin>> Actually the only thing we even need to use a slide rule for at all is

figuring out values for max/mins, roots, point of inflection, ect. It's nice to have

these in a decimal format if you're going to graph them.

Now, the Pickett N525 is a real nice statistics slide rule.... I wonder if anyone

ever made a calculus slide rule?

Duane

Insall wrote:>

> On 1 June 2002, Dunane Croft wrote:

> ``Also use one while teaching my daughter. We're working on differential

> calculus - graphing functions. The only "calculator" she uses has a middle

> part that slides and

> doesn't take any batteries (aside from the bioelectric one discussed in

> previous threads <<grin>>). Of course the only way to get her to use it is

> to let her see me doing the same problems myself, using the same

> techniques... <<another grin>>''

>

> Gee. I'm trying to figure out which scale has the infinitesimal delta x on

> it. <<:-)>>

>

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