# Re: Fortran vs. Octave/Matlab

In article <3d366f17-04a8-4f73-92bf-973492b78410@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
jfh <john.harper@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
On Nov 4, 4:04=A0pm, TideMan <mul...@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

The point is not whether it's a stupid method or what the best method
is, but what is "good" for students to learn (in addition to Fortran,
of course).

root is needed only for number theoreticians.

Back in the 50's, another of the things that was "good" for us to
learn was how to add up in our heads columns of pounds, shillings and
pence, row by row. =A0Starting from the right you had base 12 pence,
then base 20 shillings, then pounds. I remember we got quite good at
it, but I've lost that skill now.

The most complicated calculation in that area was long division of
pounds shillings and pence. My father-in-law said he only had to use
it once in his life after leaving school: when he was treasurer of a
society that ran a bus trip and he had to do something like
dividing 37 pounds 14 shillings and sixpence by 29 to find out how
much to charge each person. Addition and subtraction of non-decimal
units still afflict us though, with hours, minutes, seconds and
degrees, minutes, seconds.

Nah. Try working out proportion of X pounds, Y shillings and Z pence
(including farthings, of course) another such sum was.

Yes, I had to do that, but I was encouraged to convert it to pence
first :-)

It's actually quite good mental exercise, but doesn't lead anywhere
except to a familiarity with multi-base arithmetic and handling
integers in non-trivial ways. Useful skills, but not on a par with
iterative solution methods.

Regards,
Nick Maclaren.
.