Questions tagged [computation]

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4
votes
1answer
83 views

Using paper of known density to calculate area under a curve [duplicate]

Ive never seen a source for this, but I had a professor a few years back that a low tech way of calculating the area under a curve (definite integral) was to use a piece of paper with known thickness/...
3
votes
0answers
49 views

Where is the first reference to the “Z combinator”, a call-by-value fix-point combinator?

I'd like to know the earliest reference to the Z-combinator. This could be either where the name was first coined, or even the first discussion of a need for an applicative-order Y combinator. I didn'...
0
votes
0answers
40 views

Frege alluded to a logic algorithm?

Somewhere (I wish I remember where) I read that Gottlob Frege, although he didn't invent a logic algorithm, alluded to one (the Quine–McCluskey algorithm? something else? converting truth tables to ...
4
votes
3answers
155 views

What is the most number of digits of a mathematical transcendental constant that have been required for a real computation?

What is the most number of digits of a transcendental mathematical constant (for example, $\pi$ or $\mathrm{e}$) that have been necessary for an actual computation? Note that I am asking about the ...
0
votes
0answers
40 views

What is the (economic, social) value of STEM archives?

I'm trying to convince my institution to improve their internal Computer Science archives, and want one of my argument angles to be based on empirical value-adds of archiving. History, library science,...
4
votes
1answer
72 views

What/When was the first radio nav system capable of triangulating your position?

What was the first radio navigation system capable of triangulating your position, and when was it built? How accurate was it and what was its range? This does not have to be GPS or a satellite ...
3
votes
1answer
129 views

Tools of the trade: were early scientists and mathematicians really “writing with feathers using light from burning animal fat?”

I've used the phrase more than once, but in this answer I wrote: closing thoughts: Realistic orbits are not perfect conics, and so they and their Keplerian elements do not represent realistic ...
7
votes
2answers
330 views

Day-to-day tasks of human computers, à la Hidden Figures movie

I was fascinated by the film Hidden Figures, and a related article from New Scientist magazine Gifted and black: The brilliant woman who got the US into space. I'm trying to understand more about ...
5
votes
1answer
186 views

Why were British WWII computing machines and their projects distroyed after the war ended?

I've seen from a number of sources that both the Colossus and the cryptological bombes operating for England were dismantled after the war ended. The Wikipedia article even says that all of Colossus' ...
10
votes
3answers
716 views

Did anybody know Pi well enough in 1592 to celebrate Pi day?

Pi to 7 decimal digits is: 3.1415926 Many people are familiar with Pi day. Celebrated on March 14 as per American date format, the holiday brings attention to the fact that the date resembles the ...
4
votes
1answer
95 views

History of computing/computation in higher education

A Google search for the first academic computer science program a couple of years ago cited a half-dozen programs in France and England that were considered proto-computer science. Current searches ...
8
votes
1answer
246 views

Have the results from Computational Physics disprove any physics theory?

We are familiar with the instances when experimental results disproved physics theories, such as the Michelson-Morley experiment. What about computational physics results? To date, is there any ...
8
votes
5answers
922 views

Has a digit ever been used to represent the number “10”?

Ten is special to humans, as there are 10 fingers on two hands, and fingers are still the basic counting medium for people. So, was there any digit representing the number "10" in a positional system ...
30
votes
4answers
2k views

What is so mysterious about Archimedes' approximation of $\sqrt 3$?

In his famous estimation of $\pi$ by inscribed and circumscribed polygons, Archimedes uses several rational approximations of irrational values; a typical example is that he states, without ...
24
votes
3answers
3k views

How did Napier come to invent logarithms?

What was Napier's original logic, leading to his invention of logarithms? In other words, how did Napier, using the mathematics that was available at that time, derive them?
19
votes
1answer
883 views

What sorts of calculations called for the invention of logarithm tables?

It's often stated that Napier invented logarithms in order to simplify the task of engineers and scientists who had to crunch numbers by hand. Now, logarithms obviously do simplify calculations (as I ...