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HELP DESK

Q. Responding to a recent column on graphing calculators for math students (Sept. 8), several readers have asked: ''What is the best calculator for business use?''

A. It depends, of course, on just what sort of math your job requires. The calculators that I featured in the column, particularly the Texas Instruments TI-83 (about $95) and the Hewlett-Packard HP38C ($85), will do a very good job on the standard statistical calculations used in business. Both will take a list of data and compute linear and nonlinear regressions, standard deviations, and a variety of other calculations required for everyday statistical tests.

If your job involves a steady diet of financial computations, you would be better off by selecting from a line of specialized HP calculators. The $70 HP12C has been a favorite of executives and business students for more than a decade. It can perform a large variety of financial calculations, such as yield to maturity and internal rate of return, using built-in functions. It's also programmable. One drawback: The 12C uses a form of data entry known as ''reverse Polish notation.'' (In RPN, based on a system developed by the 19th century mathematician Jan Lukasiewicz, you enter a problem as 1 2 + rather than 1 + 2 = . ) If your needs are simpler, you might consider the $35, nonprogrammable HP10B. And for the ultimate in programmability and built-in functions, there are the $90 HP19BII and the $140 HP17BII. Both allow conventional data entry and computations.



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Updated Sept. 18, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.
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