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Learning from Slide Rules

In the days before calculators and personal computers an engineer always had a slide rule nearby. These days it is difficult to locate a slide rule outside of a museum.

I don't know how many of those who have used a slide rule ever thought of it as an analog computer, but that is really what it is. As such, the slide rule can be used to teach the modern view of the relationship between nature and mathematics and about the formalization of this concept known as isomorphism, which is one of the most pervasive and important concepts in mathematics.

In order to introduce the concepts that will be used, we will start with the simplest type of slide rule – one that is made up of two ordinary rulers.

Grade Level: High School (9-12)
Curriculum Topic Benchmarks: M1.4.1, M1.4.3, M1.4.6, M1.4.7, M2.4.1, M2.4.3, M2.4.5, M4.4.6, M4.4.8
Subject Keywords: Slide rule, Analog computer, Isomorphism, Logarithm

Author(s): Martin P. Cohen
PUMAS ID: 06_05_99_1
Date Received: 1999-06-05
Date Revised: 1999-08-01
Date Accepted: 1999-08-08

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