Freshman Seminar CSE 87 Fall '04
Wednesdays 2:00-3:00, APM 4301

The Slide Rule

History, Theory, and Practice

Professor Joe Pasquale

Before modern calculators and computers, the slide rule was the calculating tool of choice for engineers and scientists. Unlike its electronic successors, the slide rule is mind-powered, and mind-empowering. In this seminar, we revive the lost skill (and art) of slide rule operation, and explore some of the beautiful underlying mathematics and computational properties of this remarkably simple yet powerful instrument. Students will learn with actual slide rules, and are guaranteed that this know-how will impress their professors and future employers beyond belief.

Prerequisites: none (other than basic high school math). In addition to informative and enlightening, this should be a fun seminar, so your active participation is the main requirement.



The initial meetings will focus on getting familiar with the slide rule: how it works, how to use all the scales, working on interesting problems that exercise the various scales, etc. We then go to historical and advanced mathematical topics. Here is a rough list (which will probably change).