The teaching of the "mechanics of mathematics" (division, multiplication, logarithms, etc.) in recent years has focused more on the skills of using a calculator than on the pure principles of the basic subject material. With the decreased cost of hand calculators, virtually every person owns, or has access to, a calculator. A nuclear plant operator would be wise to learn how to use most of the calculators available today. Such knowledge will help the operator make quick decisions when circumstances arise for the need of a "quick calculation" of flow rate or some other parameter.
Many calculators are available on the market today, and each one is a little different. For the purpose of this module, a scientific calculator will be needed. The Texas Instruments scientific calculator TI-30 will be used for the examples in this module. Most calculators work on the same principles, but some do not. Some calculators operate on a programming principle like Hewlett-Packard (HP). An HP calculator does not use an equal key. To perform a mathematical operation, the first number is inserted, the ENTER key is pressed, the second number is inserted, and then the mathematical function key is pressed. The result will be displayed. If a different calculator is used, the student will need to refer to the reference manual for his or her calculator.
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The Mathematics Fundamentals Handbook was developed to assist nuclear facility operating contractors provide operators, maintenance personnel, and the technical staff with the necessary fundamentals training to ensure a basic understanding of mathematics and its application to facility operation. The handbook includes a review of introductory mathematics and the concepts and functional use of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. Word problems, equations, calculations, and practical exercises that require the use of each of the mathematical concepts are also presented. This information will provide personnel with a foundation for understanding and performing basic mathematical calculations that are associated with various DOE nuclear facility operations.