Scientific Computing with PCs - J.C. Nash
||Scientific Computing with PCs
||This book tells "what to", "why to" and "when to" use personal computers (PCs) for carrying out scientific computing tasks. There are many books that purport to tell users how to operate particular software packages or to set up and maintain their personal computer hardware. These "how to" volumes have their proper role and utility. Our goal is different: we aim to present ideas about the management decisions involved in using PCs for scientific and technical computing.
The audience for this book is any scientist, engineer, statistician, economist, or similar worker who is considering using a personal computer for all or part of his or her technical work. The ideas we present can be used at the individual or group level. Being ideas about the management of resources, they are kept simple to the extent that readers will think "I know that." We stress, however, that it is the day-to-day practice of management ideas that counts; theoretical knowledge is like a smoke alarm without a battery.
There are three themes to this book:
• Deciding what is or is not reasonable to attempt in the way of scientific computing with a PC;
• Learning about and finding software to carry out our tasks with a minimum of fuss;
• Choosing the tools to match the task to keep costs low.
By PC we will mean any computer system that is managed, used and maintained by a single person. The typical examples are the relatives and descendants of the original IBM PC and the Apple Macintosh, but other machines and workstations have similar properties. Workstation networks and mainframes with system support staff have quite different management strategies. Portable computers used with such larger systems are, however, very likely to be used in a way that requires the user to exercise management skills. Our examples use mainly MS-DOS PCs since these are the most common.
The reader will notice some repetition of ideas we feel important; we also have tried to keep sections of the book self-contained.
The distribution mechanism for this book is an experiment in a new form of publishing using the Internet. We did not intend this to be the case. Unfortunately the publisher who commissioned the book as a venture into a new subject area decided to retreat in the face of recessionary pressures after we had submitted a typeset manuscript. Interest from other publishers did not transform itself into a contract. Our response has been to pay to have the work professionally reviewed — as a good publisher should — and to then edit and produce the work in a form that users can print out for their own use.
The current work has been formatted to reduce the number of pages from about 300 to about 200 by choosing margins that use more of the page area on traditional letter-size paper. We believe that A4 paper users will find that pages fit this size also.
Your comments are welcome.