Many universities and colleges allow students to use advanced graphical calculators for exams in math courses, including linear algebra, calculus and engineering. Having the appropriate calculator can prove to be a huge advantage in terms of getting the correct answer and saving time. Even if the handwritten manual working is required, a good calculator can help to check the correctness of the answer.

Best Calculator for Linear Algebra

The key calculations in linear algebra include calculating the inverse and determinant of matrices. Additional features that are useful in calculators include the ability to calculate eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and RREF (reduced row echelon form). These features can be great time savers (or at the minimum, useful tools for checking your answer), as matrix operations are often tedious and prone to human error.

This calculator is good enough up till senior undergraduate level or even graduate level, for computational intensive modules, such as computational physics or any module that requires linear algebra calculations.

Often, linear algebra courses include applications to differential equations as well, which overlaps with the next topic on Calculus.

Update: For the latest TI-85/86 models, there is a new “Matrix Mode” inbuilt into the calculator that can perform basic matrix operations (including inverse) and other advanced operations such as LU Decompositions, and finding eigenvalues/eigenvectors.

Note that paradoxically, the newer TI calculator models may be cheaper than the older ones.

For Calculus, the important features that a calculator should have are the ability to perform numerical differentiation and integration. There are also some amazing apps for TI83/84 that can perform symbolic differentiation, that is, find the derivative of a function in symbols (not just the numerical value at certain values of x).

In my experience as a student and educator, TI (Texas Instruments) calculators dominate the market and are generally considered a good choice. But there are other viable alternatives that can also be considered good for linear algebra, calculus or engineering math.

The Casio fx-9750 (and related series) calculator is able to calculate determinant of matrix as well as basic matrix operations such as multiplying matrices, finding the inverse of matrix, etc.

As mentioned above, the main advantage of Casio graphical calculators is their low price. For advanced features, the TI calculators definitely trump over the Casio calculators.

Another alternative to TI calculators are the HP graphical calculators. Let us check out the most powerful HP calculator, the HP 50g Graphing Calculator.

The HP 50g Graphing Calculator has a “MatrixWriter form” to facilitate the entry of matrices. It is essentially like an Excel spreadsheet. Once the matrix is entered, there is a myriad of functions that can be applied, such as finding the determinant, trace, transpose, and rank of a matrix.

Calculate the Taylor/Maclaurin series of a function symbolically (up to 4-th order relative power, i.e., the difference between the highest and lowest power in the expansion is 4)

Partial Derivatives (Multivariate Calculus)

Multiple Integrals such as double integral

Vector Calculus such as del, gradient, divergence, curl

Differential Equations

Fourier series

The list above is quite impressive! Overall, the HP 50g Graphical Calculator is a very strong competitor to the TI series graphical calculators.

Best Calculator for Engineering

Engineers often need to use Linear Algebra, as well as Calculus. Hence, the best calculator for engineering often overlaps with the best calculator for linear algebra or calculus. Do check out our above reviews and pick the calculator that best suits your needs.

It turns out that US students aren’t that bad at math, they just have no motivation to do the PISA test properly. (The PISA test is an external test that has no bearing on their school academic results.)

It’s no secret that young Americans perform poorly on math and science tests, especially compared to their peers in countries like Singapore, Korea and China, where math scores are among the highest in the world. Now, a working paper surfaces a fundamental reason for that weak performance: American students are simply not trying hard enough.

In the latest results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), US students ranked roughly average among the 75 participating countries. The PISA tests, administered by the OECD every three years, assess 15-year-olds around the world on math, science and reading. Governments and policy makers point to the outcomes when making the case for education reform.

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The researchers also ran a simulation, and found that if the 15-year-olds in the US had been given the same cash bonus in 2012 when taking the assessment, America would have ranked 19th in the PISA math test instead of 36th among 65 nations.