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Re: Reliability of On Line Calculator

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Check it yourself! The value of asking if it has been checked is that it increases the chances of your own required check to prove the program worthy. The effort to check its code and your own interpretation of instructions may be just as much effort as that effort to write your own spreadsheet or to join an open code project!

Technology of physics has outpaced social science. Our new methods of applying engineering should be constantly questioned. Long established methods have been proven by time. Many engineers performing their own version of a method is like having a large gene pool where the winners prevail and others follow in time. New approaches have larger than human analysis program codes that are not open for review, understanding and improvement. A simple calculation error that would have a single repairable consequence may now have a world around impact. An erroneous single repetitive code routine may become an international political disaster or cover-up. Just think of all of the Homer Simpsons with degree and donuts applying the same program with their own set of interpretations of the "what ever" instructions.

Computer program practice requires that the engineer first performed scenarios of problems starting from the simplest to the most complex possibilities. Small programs, for design, are often misused by not correctly interpretation what the programmer instructed. No programmer should publish code if not successfully solved by hand. The same goes for the using engineer and that is only possible with the open code is available.

Spreadsheets and programs such as Tedds and MathCAD allow tests and tweaking the code to test its flexibility or accuracy.

Building Codes leave rational analysis to the designer and reviews by public officials. Programming liability is contractually thrown into the designer's lap. The myth is that we don't have to worry about the program code. We believe the computer is flawless. The instructions, the language of rational analysis, are not a universally defined language. It is changing, unlike Latin, language of the sciences.

Hand calculated test runs are to test the code and to test your own interpretation of that code. Using hand calculations by others to check a program by others leaves your interpretation unchecked.

David B. Merrick, Structural Engineer

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