Photo Illustration by Jaime Gonzalez
The TI-84 calculator runs on average well over $100, but with smart phones and tablets brimming with apps as well as both downloadable computer programs and the Internet at users disposal, is that calculator really necessary anymore? Below we take a look at alternatives to the traditional calculator.
Wolfram|Alpha is the quintessential mathematics tool available today. The website can be found at http://www.wolframalpha.com/. How it works is users can type in a math problem and Wolfram|Alpha will come up with the answer. It’s as easy as that. Just a small list of some of what Wolfram|Alpha can do includes: calculus, logic functions, matrices, geometry, algebra, regression, probability and statistical distributions.
“Wolfram|Alpha is a fantastic tool,” Sarah Feldman, a third-year computer science major, said. “It has a huge range of possibilities. It has great calculus tools.”
Wolfram|Alpha is also an app available on the Android Market and Apple App Store for $2.99, much cheaper than a new Texas Instrument. The Android Market app has over 3,450 votes while the Apple Market app has over 585 votes, but both have an average four and a half star rating. The app claims to be “the world’s definitive source for instant expert knowledge and computation,” and compares itself to the Star Trek computer, offering more than just math. In total it offers 29 subjects, including chemistry and engineering, with dozens of categories. The iOSapp version of Wolfram|Alpha is also compatible with Siri. You can find the Android version here: http://products.wolframalpha.com/android/ and you can find the iPhone version here: http://products.wolframalpha.com/iphone/.
2. Appcylon LLC
Another great math resource is the Graphing Calculator Iphone app from Appcylon LLC. It can be found here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/graphing-calculator/id289940142?mt=8. Reviewers of the app boast they have used it to replace their TI-84 graphing calculator for college math courses. The best part? It’s only $1.99. If professors can be convinced to let students use their phone or tablet on exams instead of a calculator, it could save students over $100. The app has over 36,620 reviews averaging at three and a half stars.
For those who really want to save money there is the Free Graphing Calculator iOS app by William Jockusch, though this calculator is not as highly reviewed. There is also an Android equivalent graphing calculator app called Algeo with over 2,390 reviews averaging at four and a half stars.
4. Math Ref
Math Ref by Happy Maau Studios, LLC is another useful app that is available on both Android and Apple systems. It contains over 1,400 formulas as well as figures and example equations. Here is the iOS version: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/math-ref/id301384057?mt=8 and here is the Android version: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.happymaau.MathRefFree&hl=en.
The online community The Math Forum is a great place to get help with math. Fellow students as well as researchers and educators are on the site to offer aid. There is also an Ask Dr. Math ability where users can ask specific math problems and questions to get help with them. The website is mathforum.org .
While alone or combined, these resources have the ability to replace a TI-84 calculator, unless professors can be convinced to allow other technological devices into their classrooms, Texas Instruments will still have an iron hold on the market. However, this shows great hope for the future that after college and away from the confines of the classroom, users won’t have to shell out money for the newest model of calculator.