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10 Free Math Analysis & Design Tools for Engineers

6/21/2014 00:00 AM EDT
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DaveMcGuire
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Re: don't pigeonhole R
DaveMcGuire   6/27/2014 3:20:15 PM
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You make an excellent point here, but a big part of engineering is knowing and using the right tool for the job.  Not doing so is taking a shortcut...and not "good engineering".

 

                   -Dave

 

LiketoBike
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CEO
Re: don't pigeonhole R
LiketoBike   6/27/2014 2:37:53 PM
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Well, a lot of people "abuse" existing tools because they don't have time to learn 100 different tools, also.  It's not "lazy" to realize that there is a finite amount of time available in a day (or a project) and to cope accordingly.  If my employer allowed me time to get up to speed on all the "most appropriate" tools for any given project, I would be learning different tools all the time instead of doing my actual job :-) because I don't do just one kind of work day-in and day-out.

So there is an actual engineering tradeoff in the tools space:  learning a few very flexible tools in-depth, and using them for most tasks...or learning lots of different, specific, focused tools superficially.  I suspect most people are somewhere in the middle.

AZskibum
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CEO
Re: don't pigeonhole R
AZskibum   6/25/2014 5:52:50 PM
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Thanks everyone for all the info on R. I've never used this tool, but I'm going to check it out.

DONALD.RUSS
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Another vote for LTSpice and the LTPowerCad
DONALD.RUSS   6/25/2014 10:04:06 AM
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Much deaper and more powerful simulation of solutionds than WebBench.  Can also be used for general analog design.

LTSpice models of actual devices allow you to see the effects of changes to the circuit. 

Boundless.

Kinnar
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CEO
Scilab is a versatile tool for computing
Kinnar   6/25/2014 7:54:17 AM
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Scilab is a very nice free tool for math computing, it is the most suggested tool for schools and colleges. http://www.scilab.org/

dcurrie030
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Re: Pari/GP; other apps; Question
dcurrie030   6/24/2014 3:20:58 PM
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[someone asked about a 2000-era automatic curve fitter using multiple algorithms]

There is a nice free on-line curve and surface fit tool at http://zunzun.com/

For a Remez solver, look at Sollya.

-- e

 

przem
User Rank
Manager
Re: Pari/GP; other apps; Question
przem   6/24/2014 11:57:24 AM
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[someone asked about a 2000-era automatic curve fitter using multiple algorithms]

There was a CERNlib program called MINUIT that did that. There was also something called CurveFit that was more automatic.

zeeglen
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Blogger
Re: don't pigeonhole R
zeeglen   6/23/2014 10:15:15 PM
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@ antedeluvian the use of Excel in Electronic Engineering

There was a time I did not know how to use Excel, then I needed to calculate PCB dimensions for impedance control of broadside-coupled differential stripline.  The textbook equation was a real pig, but learned how to use the Excel goal-seek function to automatically iterate guesses until it found the right one.  The prototype boards measured within 2% of the target.

DaveMcGuire
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Re: don't pigeonhole R
DaveMcGuire   6/23/2014 9:45:18 PM
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  Well yes, a lot of people abuse existing tools due to inertia or just plan laziness.  That's a bit of a shame, but our work ethic isn't what it once was.

 

  I myself stumbled upon R in a search for a good math package.  I had used Octave a bit, and mostly liked it, but being a fan of Lisp, I was immediately drawn to R's simiarly to the Scheme language.  Specifically I needed to do some curve fitting to linearize the response of a sensor, and come up with coefficients to embed in firmware.  R made short work of it, and it made so much sense, that I've been hooked ever since.  I've since written an entire suite of instrument control software with it, so I go straight from lab equipment into data structures in R, complete with graphing if needed.

 

  And I don't have to fight with Windows to use it. ;)

 

  A lot of people use Excel (or an equivalent; I use the name generically, like 'Xerox") for the type of curve fitting I needed to do that day, or other related stuff, and if that tool works for them, that's great.  The R approach better matches the way my mind works, and the productivity boost has been great for both myself and those who depend on my work.  It's not for everyone, but give it a try, you might like it.  The learning curve is steep, like any other complex tool, but it's worth it.

 

                      -Dave

 

kfield
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Blogger
Re: don't pigeonhole R
kfield   6/23/2014 3:59:40 PM
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@davemcguire Thanks for the insight on R. But isn't it true that many of us try to use Excel for something it's not equipped to do because we are not aware of a good alternative? Or too lazy to learn. :-) Would love to know more about your history with R, how you learned about it, what types of things you use it for, wow I think I am proposing you write up a blog on it! :-)

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