Teaching Using Octave

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Teaching Using Octave

Burke, Dr. Richard
Teaching Using Octave

I know a bit about the history of Octave, and if I’m not mistaken, several faculty have taught courses using Octave. I will be teaching a course called Engineering Analysis in the fall, and I am thinking about basing the course on Octave. The course is for junior level engineers from mechanical, electrical, and related disciplines.

A few questions:

1.      Is there anything published about your experience or the experience of others in using Octave as the computational basis for a course? There are countless books based upon MATLAB, MathCAD, etc.

2.      Is the Octave documentation adequate for undergraduate engineers? I am concerned about having the course devolve into a software tutorial, and like most small college programs, we do not have teaching assistants.

3.      Any advice as to whether (or how) I should do this?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

_______________________

Dr. Richard Burke, '72

Chairman and Professor of Engineering

Maritime College

State University of New York

6 Pennyfield Avenue

Throggs Neck, NY 10465

Voice:  718.409.7411

Fax:    718.409.7421


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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Steve C. Thompson
Prof. Burke,

I just wanted to commend you for considering GNU Octave for teaching.
This is a very good idea for many reasons.  As you probably know, the
GNU Octave Manual is available for $30.  Requiring this manual for the
class would be a great way to help free software (and at $30, it is
relatively cheap for a textbook).

Will the students have a lab with computers running Octave or will they
have to install the program themselves.  Depending on their computer
proficiency, installation might be an issue.  I don't have experience
with Octave on Microsoft Windows (I use Octave on Debian GNU/Linux,
which installs with ``apt-get install octave'').  Chances are the
majority of the students, if they have a computer, will be running MS
Windows.  So the ease of install on this platform might be a issue.

Assuming the students have a working version of Octave, then they just
need to learn how to use it.  The Octave Manual should give them plenty
of guidance.  Possibly you can allocate 5 minutes per lecture about how
to use a certain command.  ``Today class, I'm going to tell you about
the hist command.''  I would tell the students to subscript to this
list, [hidden email], for two reasons:  they can use it to ask
questions, and they can learn about the community of users helping users
and about free software.  Tell them to look at
http://www.octave.org/archive.html if they get stuck, and tell them to
help each other (of course, making it clear than they have to turn in
work that is there own).

I don't have any first hand experience with this topic, but I hope to in
the future.

Good luck,

Steve

On Apr 13 18:04PM, Burke, Dr. Richard wrote:

>
> I know a bit about the history of Octave, and if I'm not mistaken,
> several faculty have taught courses using Octave. I will be teaching a
> course called Engineering Analysis in the fall, and I am thinking about
> basing the course on Octave. The course is for junior level engineers
> from mechanical, electrical, and related disciplines.
>
> A few questions:
>
> 1. Is there anything published about your experience or the
> experience of others in using Octave as the computational basis for a
> course? There are countless books based upon MATLAB, MathCAD, etc.
> 2. Is the Octave documentation adequate for undergraduate
> engineers? I am concerned about having the course devolve into a
> software tutorial, and like most small college programs, we do not have
> teaching assistants.
> 3. Any advice as to whether (or how) I should do this?
>
> Thanks for any help you can give me.
>
> _______________________
> Dr. Richard Burke, '72
> Chairman and Professor of Engineering
> Maritime College
> State University of New York
> 6 Pennyfield Avenue
> Throggs Neck, NY 10465
>
> Voice:  718.409.7411
> Fax:    718.409.7421
>
>
>



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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Y U Sasidhar
I have used octave in teaching. The problem I had was that
the students have absolutely no previous exposure to
computers and are not in a position to use a manual.
There was no "text" on octave, so I had to use an elementary
matlab based book. A good text showing the use of octave in
engineering and science context will go a long way in
consolidating octave's use as a teaching tool. Octave is
great for those who know their way around; but for beginning
  students a good text is required.


--
  Sasidhar








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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Victor Munoz
On Thu, Apr 14, 2005 at 12:32:28PM +0530, Y U Sasidhar wrote:

> I have used octave in teaching. The problem I had was that
> the students have absolutely no previous exposure to
> computers and are not in a position to use a manual.
> There was no "text" on octave, so I had to use an elementary
> matlab based book. A good text showing the use of octave in
> engineering and science context will go a long way in
> consolidating octave's use as a teaching tool. Octave is
> great for those who know their way around; but for beginning
>  students a good text is required.
>


I don't know if this is going to help or not.

A colleague and I have made a course for physics students, where we teach
them several tools (TeX, Octave, C++, bash programming), and then we expect
them to work on numerical problems in mathematics and physics (mainly solve
differential equations, but we've also had them play with chaotic maps,
cellular automata, etc.). We wrote a book for the course, and I wrote the
Octave chapter. Bad news: it is in Spanish. Besides, we don't regard the
book as "finished", as we consider revisions everytime we make the
course again.

If someone wants to take a look at it, it's at

http://aristoteles.ciencias.uchile.cl/homepage/cursos/mfm0/mfm0.pdf

The Octave chapter is number 4. If someone thinks it would be interesting to
have something like that available in English, we could work on translate
it, unless there's an interested soul out there. The Octave chapter is very
simple, only to introduce basic functionality and capability --later in the
course (and in the book), we propose numerical problems which the students
attack with the tools learned so far-- but maybe it can help as a first
reference.

Regards,

                                        Victor
                                       





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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Michael Creel
For teaching, in my experience, it is currently better to teach a Windows user
to use Linux, and then teach Octave using Linux. This may not be the case for
all Windows versions - I only tried one.
Michael



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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Y U Sasidhar
In reply to this post by Victor Munoz
Victor Munoz wrote:


> I don't know if this is going to help or not.
>
> A colleague and I have made a course for physics students, where we teach
> them several tools (TeX, Octave, C++, bash programming), and then we expect
> them to work on numerical problems in mathematics and physics (mainly solve
> differential equations, but we've also had them play with chaotic maps,
> cellular automata, etc.). We wrote a book for the course, and I wrote the
> Octave chapter. Bad news: it is in Spanish. Besides, we don't regard the
> book as "finished", as we consider revisions everytime we make the
> course again.
>
> If someone wants to take a look at it, it's at
>
> http://aristoteles.ciencias.uchile.cl/homepage/cursos/mfm0/mfm0.pdf
>
> The Octave chapter is number 4. If someone thinks it would be interesting to
> have something like that available in English, we could work on translate
> it, unless there's an interested soul out there. The Octave chapter is very
> simple, only to introduce basic functionality and capability --later in the
> course (and in the book), we propose numerical problems which the students
> attack with the tools learned so far-- but maybe it can help as a first
> reference.
>
> Regards,
>
 From whatever I could make out from the contents, you are
discussing numerical methods too and introduced programmimg
principles using c++.
I think that for a first programming introduction octave is
great; I would use that ( used also ) to intoduce loops etc.
THerefore I feel numerical principles plus octave plus basic
unix will be a good combination for a text. Most of it is
there in your book except that your book uses c++ to
introduce programming.
regards,

--
  Sasidhar




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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Victor Munoz

> From whatever I could make out from the contents, you are
> discussing numerical methods too and introduced programmimg
> principles using c++.

That's correct, and it's why I don't know if it's really relevant for this
discussion.


> I think that for a first programming introduction octave is
> great; I would use that ( used also ) to intoduce loops etc.
> THerefore I feel numerical principles plus octave plus basic
> unix will be a good combination for a text. Most of it is
> there in your book except that your book uses c++ to
> introduce programming.

The official language we teach is C++, but we try to keep perspective and
let our students know of other alternatives, and they are encouraged to use
them during their assignments or practice sessions. Probably, as you say,
if numerical examples in the book are worked out in Octave, then maybe that,
plus Chapter 4, would be a good introduction for Octave and programming in
Octave.

Regards,
                                Victor
                               



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RE: Teaching Using Octave

Harbinson, Jeremy
In reply to this post by Burke, Dr. Richard
 When I have to introduce a student to Matlab (I use Octave on principle
- the University installs Matlab - on principle) I usually just get them
to 'Google' (horrible word, but convenient) for something like
'introduction matlab' - there are lots of web sites, mainly at US
Universities, with introductions to Matlab (and sometimes Octave is
explicitly referred to) and its use in computational physics etc. The
student can then find the one that suits their level of knowledge of
scritping, sums, or whatever.
Jeremy

-----Original Message-----
From: Y U Sasidhar [mailto:[hidden email]]
Sent: donderdag 14 april 2005 13:39
To: Victor Munoz
Cc: [hidden email]
Subject: Re: Teaching Using Octave

Victor Munoz wrote:


> I don't know if this is going to help or not.
>
> A colleague and I have made a course for physics students, where we
> teach them several tools (TeX, Octave, C++, bash programming), and
> then we expect them to work on numerical problems in mathematics and
> physics (mainly solve differential equations, but we've also had them
> play with chaotic maps, cellular automata, etc.). We wrote a book for
> the course, and I wrote the Octave chapter. Bad news: it is in
> Spanish. Besides, we don't regard the book as "finished", as we
> consider revisions everytime we make the course again.
>
> If someone wants to take a look at it, it's at
>
> http://aristoteles.ciencias.uchile.cl/homepage/cursos/mfm0/mfm0.pdf
>
> The Octave chapter is number 4. If someone thinks it would be
> interesting to have something like that available in English, we could

> work on translate it, unless there's an interested soul out there. The

> Octave chapter is very simple, only to introduce basic functionality
> and capability --later in the course (and in the book), we propose
> numerical problems which the students attack with the tools learned so

> far-- but maybe it can help as a first reference.
>
> Regards,
>
 From whatever I could make out from the contents, you are discussing
numerical methods too and introduced programmimg principles using c++.
I think that for a first programming introduction octave is great; I
would use that ( used also ) to intoduce loops etc.
THerefore I feel numerical principles plus octave plus basic unix will
be a good combination for a text. Most of it is there in your book
except that your book uses c++ to introduce programming.
regards,

--
  Sasidhar




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Octave is freely available under the terms of the GNU GPL.

Octave's home on the web:  http://www.octave.org
How to fund new projects:  http://www.octave.org/funding.html
Subscription information:  http://www.octave.org/archive.html
-------------------------------------------------------------





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Re: Teaching Using Octave

A Scotte Hodel
In reply to this post by Burke, Dr. Richard
I suggest Octave to my students as an alternative to MATLAB in my  
courses.  Regardless of which of these tools you use, I think that you  
should expect to spend a total of one week (three 50 minute lectures)  
in a given course to either review or tutor your students in either  
tool.  I've written a short MATLAB tutorial (a work in progress) for  
one of our lab courses that  may be of some assistance.  See my course  
weblog at
         
http://www.eng.auburn.edu/users/hodelas/classes/C315027937/E929813380/ 
index.html
The tutorial is in chapter 4.

Since most students are using Windows, I've also put up a copy of the  
instructions on how to install Octave on windows at another weblog  
entry:
        http://www.eng.auburn.edu/users/hodelas/classes/C294999662/ 
E1746439820/index.html
(This one probably needs to be cleaned up)

A few students have installed Octave on their machines and have not had  
any trouble adapting from MATLAB.  If they install octave-forge
(from octave.sourceforge.net) then printing (export of plots to .jpg,  
.eps, .fig, etc.) should be straightforward.

One course in which I used Octave is an undergraduate course in  
stochastic signals and systems: my lecture notes are at
        http://www.eng.auburn.edu/users/hodelas/classes/C1051586965/ 
E242544089/index.html
You will find several m-file examples listed in the index.

I hope that helps.

Yours,

Scotte Hodel

On Apr 13, 2005, at 6:04 PM, Burke, Dr. Richard wrote:

> I know a bit about the history of Octave, and if I’m not mistaken,  
> several faculty have taught courses using Octave. I will be teaching a  
> course called Engineering Analysis in the fall, and I am thinking  
> about basing the course on Octave. The course is for junior level  
> engineers from mechanical, electrical, and related disciplines.
>
>  A few questions:
>
> 1.      Is there anything published about your experience or the  
> experience of others in using Octave as the computational basis for a  
> course? There are countless books based upon MATLAB, MathCAD, etc.
>
> 2.      Is the Octave documentation adequate for undergraduate  
> engineers? I am concerned about having the course devolve into a  
> software tutorial, and like most small college programs, we do not  
> have teaching assistants.
>
> 3.      Any advice as to whether (or how) I should do this?
>
> Thanks for any help you can give me.
>
> _______________________
>
> Dr. Richard Burke, '72
> Chairman and Professor of Engineering
> Maritime College
> State University of New York
>  6 Pennyfield Avenue
> Throggs Neck, NY 10465
> Voice:  718.409.7411
> Fax:    718.409.7421



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Re: Teaching Using Octave

dastew
In reply to this post by Burke, Dr. Richard
I also use Octave in my courses.

1) I give them an introductory lab that just explores Octave and the
concept of M files.
(Even if I used Matlab I would do the same. I did use matlab years ago.)
- they have had programming already C++, C#, VB, 6811, PIC.

2) I have found that Andy Adler's port to windows works the best for my
students.
http://www.site.uottawa.ca/~adler/octave/ ( I use the 10 meg ver.)
- it allows the students to cut and paste to Open Office.
- it is a little old but works for what we do.
( Laplace space and Z space design of filters and controllers, PID etc
and ODE simulators - model the real world in Laplace and Z space, then
build it with opamps
or program it in C#)

3) My students just go to the web for help.
(3rd year students.)



Burke, Dr. Richard wrote:

>
> I know a bit about the history of Octave, and if I’m not mistaken,
> several faculty have taught courses using Octave. I will be teaching a
> course called Engineering Analysis in the fall, and I am thinking
> about basing the course on Octave. The course is for junior level
> engineers from mechanical, electrical, and related disciplines.
>
> A few questions:
>
> 1. Is there anything published about your experience or the experience
> of others in using Octave as the computational basis for a course?
> There are countless books based upon MATLAB, MathCAD, etc.
>
> 2. Is the Octave documentation adequate for undergraduate engineers? I
> am concerned about having the course devolve into a software tutorial,
> and like most small college programs, we do not have teaching assistants.
>
> 3. Any advice as to whether (or how) I should do this?
>
> Thanks for any help you can give me.
>
> *//**/_______________________/*
>
> */Dr. Richard Burke, '72/*
>
> */Chairman and Professor of Engineering/*
>
> */Maritime College/*
>
> */State University of New York /*
>
> */6 Pennyfield Avenue/*
>
> */Throggs Neck, NY 10465/*
>
> */Voice: 718.409.7411/*
>
> */Fax: 718.409.7421/*
>
>



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Octave's home on the web:  http://www.octave.org
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jdb
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Re: Teaching Using Octave

jdb
I'm also teaching Octave in my courses, and I've developped my own
teaching material (but everything is in French) :

- introduction to Octave and MATLAB : http://enacit1.epfl.ch/cours_matlab/
   (some chapters, not completely finished and still in work these days
    like graphics, will be on-line in 1 mounth)
- exercices are not (yet) on-line

I'm using the Windows Octave-Forge "octave-2.1.42-windows-atlas.exe"
from http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=2888 :
very easy to install (but a little bit old), including : Octave-Forge
extensions, Cygwin, gnuplot, EpsTk, ATLAS, SuperLU.

Jean-Daniel Bonjour
ENAC-IT/SSIE, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland


> Burke, Dr. Richard wrote:
>>
>> I know a bit about the history of Octave, and if I’m not mistaken,
>> several faculty have taught courses using Octave. I will be teaching a
>> course called Engineering Analysis in the fall, and I am thinking
>> about basing the course on Octave. The course is for junior level
>> engineers from mechanical, electrical, and related disciplines.
>>
>> A few questions:
>>
>> 1. Is there anything published about your experience or the experience
>> of others in using Octave as the computational basis for a course?
>> There are countless books based upon MATLAB, MathCAD, etc.
>>
>> 2. Is the Octave documentation adequate for undergraduate engineers? I
>> am concerned about having the course devolve into a software tutorial,
>> and like most small college programs, we do not have teaching assistants.
>>
>> 3. Any advice as to whether (or how) I should do this?
>>
>> Thanks for any help you can give me.
>>
>> *//**/_______________________/*
>>
>> */Dr. Richard Burke, '72/*
>> */Chairman and Professor of Engineering/*
>> */Maritime College/*
>> */State University of New York /*
>> */6 Pennyfield Avenue/*
>> */Throggs Neck, NY 10465/*
>> */Voice: 718.409.7411/*
>> */Fax: 718.409.7421/*



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Octave's home on the web:  http://www.octave.org
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RE: Teaching Using Octave

Ryan Peterson
In reply to this post by Burke, Dr. Richard
I may have just what you need.  As a student I worked with David Cook at
Lawrence University to develop a text for computational problem solving in
undergraduate physics.  As part of my work, I adapted the introductory
chapter of Matlab for Octave.  I think it's only shortcomings are that it
was written at a time when N-d arrays weren't available and has no notes on
the install.  If you're interested I can make up a postscript file of the
chapter.

Best of luck,
Ryan Peterson

>From: "Burke, Dr. Richard" <[hidden email]>
>To: <[hidden email]>
>Subject: Teaching Using Octave
>Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2005 18:04:45 -0500
>
>
>I know a bit about the history of Octave, and if I'm not mistaken,
>several faculty have taught courses using Octave. I will be teaching a
>course called Engineering Analysis in the fall, and I am thinking about
>basing the course on Octave. The course is for junior level engineers
>from mechanical, electrical, and related disciplines.
>
>A few questions:
>
>1. Is there anything published about your experience or the
>experience of others in using Octave as the computational basis for a
>course? There are countless books based upon MATLAB, MathCAD, etc.
>2. Is the Octave documentation adequate for undergraduate
>engineers? I am concerned about having the course devolve into a
>software tutorial, and like most small college programs, we do not have
>teaching assistants.
>3. Any advice as to whether (or how) I should do this?
>
>Thanks for any help you can give me.
>
>_______________________
>Dr. Richard Burke, '72
>Chairman and Professor of Engineering
>Maritime College
>State University of New York
>6 Pennyfield Avenue
>Throggs Neck, NY 10465
>
>Voice:  718.409.7411
>Fax:    718.409.7421
>
>
>




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Octave's home on the web:  http://www.octave.org
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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Steve C. Thompson
In reply to this post by Michael Creel
> ... it is currently better to teach a Windows user to use Linux, and
> then teach Octave using Linux.
I agree with this.  If it were me, the first day of class I would hand
out Ubuntu CDs and tell the students to go home, install GNU/Linux, and
get to work.  However, this isn't practical, I know, and somewhat
draconian.

So the question is, how do you get them to use GNU/Linux?  On a Linux
lab on campus?  This doesn't necessarily exist.  A lab next to me,
running Solaris, is administered by the academic computing people;
getting Linux and Octave on these machines would be really hard.  Does
the instructor have to do some wrangling to get a Linux lab set up?
Does he have to do it himself?

The other alternative is to have the students install GNU/Linux on their
machines (back to free CDs).  There are problems here as well.  The
student has to be quite motivated and willing to change their ways.
They might be resentful if things don't work perfectly smoothly (which
they never do).  They might ask you during class, ``How do I set up my
email,'' ``How do I get the ssh-thingie to work?''

Michael, I like your basic idea, but can you give more details one how
to implement?

Steve

On Apr 14 11:59AM, Michael Creel wrote:

> For teaching, in my experience, it is currently better to teach a Windows user
> to use Linux, and then teach Octave using Linux. This may not be the case for
> all Windows versions - I only tried one.
> Michael
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> Octave is freely available under the terms of the GNU GPL.
>
> Octave's home on the web:  http://www.octave.org
> How to fund new projects:  http://www.octave.org/funding.html
> Subscription information:  http://www.octave.org/archive.html
> -------------------------------------------------------------



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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Michael Creel
On Friday 15 April 2005 17:06, Steve C. Thompson wrote:
> > ... it is currently better to teach a Windows user to use Linux, and
> > then teach Octave using Linux.
>
> I agree with this.  If it were me, the first day of class I would hand
> out Ubuntu CDs and tell the students to go home, install GNU/Linux, and
> get to work.  However, this isn't practical, I know, and somewhat
> draconian.
>
> So the question is, how do you get them to use GNU/Linux?  On a Linux

That's easy. Give them homework and a lot of long, pre-written Octave
functions that they either use or have to translate.

> lab on campus?  This doesn't necessarily exist.  A lab next to me,
> running Solaris, is administered by the academic computing people;
> getting Linux and Octave on these machines would be really hard.  Does
> the instructor have to do some wrangling to get a Linux lab set up?
> Does he have to do it himself?

Well, I have used remastered Knoppix CDs in the past. I put Octave, etc., on,
as well as my stuff, and they can work just by booting the CD. This works
pretty well. Currently we have dual  boot computers for the students, so I'm
not using live CD's for teaching right now.


>
> The other alternative is to have the students install GNU/Linux on their
> machines (back to free CDs).  There are problems here as well.  The
> student has to be quite motivated and willing to change their ways.
> They might be resentful if things don't work perfectly smoothly (which
> they never do).  They might ask you during class, ``How do I set up my
> email,'' ``How do I get the ssh-thingie to work?''
>
> Michael, I like your basic idea, but can you give more details one how
> to implement?

You can get an out-of-date CD at http://pareto.uab.es/mcreel/Econometrics/
This has a link to an ISO image that has Octave 2.1.40 or so on it. The
current parallelknoppix has Octave 2.1.69
http://pareto.uab.es/mcreel/parallelknoppix

Cheers, Michael



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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Dmitri A. Sergatskov
Michael Creel wrote:
...
>
> Well, I have used remastered Knoppix CDs in the past. I put Octave, etc., on,
> as well as my stuff, and they can work just by booting the CD. This works
> pretty well.

http://dirk.eddelbuettel.com/quantian.html

FYI

Dmitri.
--



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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Victor Munoz
In reply to this post by Steve C. Thompson
> So the question is, how do you get them to use GNU/Linux?  On a Linux
> lab on campus?  This doesn't necessarily exist.

This was our solution in fact. At a given moment, some years ago, it was
decided that out Department would switch to Debian, and we've stayed there
since. All our students were forced to learn Linux (which caused several
complaints by students when the switch occured), our secretary. Most
professors also made the switch.

Now the course and the book I talked about previously in this thread is our
"official" introduction to the various tools available for our students.
It's for second year students, as first year ones don't really have access
to our computers (too many of them, many of them will leave during the first
year, and mathematics and physics course are already enough load for them to
let them play all day :-)).

All this makes easy teach them using Octave, but I guess a such a drastic
solution is not feasible in general.

Regards,

                                                Victor
                                               
                                               



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Re: Teaching Using Octave

Ananda Murthy R S-2
In reply to this post by Burke, Dr. Richard
Burke, Dr. Richard wrote:

>
> I know a bit about the history of Octave, and if I’m not mistaken,
> several faculty have taught courses using Octave. I will be teaching a
> course called Engineering Analysis in the fall, and I am thinking
> about basing the course on Octave. The course is for junior level
> engineers from mechanical, electrical, and related disciplines.
>
> A few questions:
>
> 1. Is there anything published about your experience or the experience
> of others in using Octave as the computational basis for a course?
> There are countless books based upon MATLAB, MathCAD, etc.
>
> 2. Is the Octave documentation adequate for undergraduate engineers? I
> am concerned about having the course devolve into a software tutorial,
> and like most small college programs, we do not have teaching assistants.
>
> 3. Any advice as to whether (or how) I should do this?
>
> Thanks for any help you can give me.
>
> *//**/_______________________/*
>
> */Dr. Richard Burke, '72/*
>
> */Chairman and Professor of Engineering/*
>
> */Maritime College/*
>
> */State University of New York /*
>
> */6 Pennyfield Avenue/*
>
> */Throggs Neck, NY 10465/*
>
> */Voice: 718.409.7411/*
>
> */Fax: 718.409.7421/*
>
>
Hello:

We have been using Octave as a simulation tool in our Control Systems
Lab and Power Systems Simulation Lab. The manual provided with Octave is
sufficient. If you could tell me what kind of problems you would like to
solve using Octave, I am ready to help.

Ananda Murthy R S



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