TK Solver for Windows version 1.0 (TKW) comes with a library of more than
250 ready to use math and statistic tools, including all major methods of
numeric analysis. Among these are tools for root finding, differentiation and
integration, differential equation, fast Fourier transforms, optimization,
statistics, curve fitting, and many more. All of these are ready to accept your
data or variables.
After installing the TK Solver, you have to familiarize yourself with the "sheet oriented" philosophy of the program. There are nine classes of worksheets that hold the information you need to define a mathematical model such as variables, rules, units, formats, and plot sheets. Each worksheet is displayed in its own window, so documentation is done almost automatically and information is easy to find.
Most important are the variable sheet, which holds all global variables; and the rule sheet, which contains your formulas and equations. These two sheets allow an immediate start for solving your first simple models. You just type your formulas into the rule sheet, switch to the variable sheet, assign values to the known variables, start the solver, and let TKW calculate the unknown variables.
High points. There are two outstanding TKW features. First, you don't have to sequence your formulas, which means every formula of your model can be placed anywhere on the rule sheet. Second, you don't have to rearrange your equation in order to solve for another variable. The target variable does not have to be isolated. This feature, called backsolving, can make working with formulas much faster and easier.
For more complex models, TKW lets you create your own functions. All user-built functions go into the function sheet. The program knows three types of functions: procedure functions, for subroutines (to break large models into smaller parts); rule functions; and list functions for defining a relation between two sets of data. Possible data mapping types are table, step, linear or cubic mapping.
Worry-free work. Another feature I like is TKW's ability to handle two units for each variable: a display unit and a calculation unit. To use this feature, you first define all unit conversion rules, then assign a display and a calculation unit to each variable or list. The benefit of this procedure is that all calculations within your model can be done in SI units and all data I/O can use the common technical units; so you needn't think about errors due to erroneous conversions.
Tk Solver for Windows, v1.0
Requirements for TK Solver for Windows are Windows 3.1, 4M bytes RAM, and 7M bytes hard disk space. Roark & Young on Windows requires Windows 3.1, 10M bytes RAM, and 15M bytes hard disk space.
List Price: TK Solver for Windows, $595; TK Solver with Roark & Young, $699
Universal Technical Systems Inc., 1220 Rock St., Rockford, IL 61101; ph: (800) 435-7887; fax: (815) 963-8884.
TKW provides a plot sheet where you can define your graphs. Unfortunately, TKW's plotting capability is for modest presentation needs only. I would like more types of plots and more control over plot features like tick spacing, labels, etc.
Among the applications for TKW is an adaptation of Roark & Young's book "Formulas for Stress and Strain." This application is really a time saver for your stress analysis. The menuing system is well organized and lets you quickly choose the chapter, table, and case you need. The descriptions and pictures make it easy to chose the right case. Once you make your selection, all formulas required for the calculations are loaded into TKW. Fill in your values and TKW calculates a solution for you.
Overall, I think TKW is a useful and easy to use numeric math package. The advantages of this math package are its ability to backsolve and to solve systems of simultaneous equations, and its complete library of math and statistic tools. The "sheet oriented" philosophy has its pros and cons. It can provide modularly organized information which makes it easy to find specific points of interest. But you also end up with a vast number of open windows on the screen.
Things I don't like about TKW are its small plotting capabilities and the fact that there is no way to print formulas in a math like style. But these are minor disadvantages. TKW uses the Windows clipboard format, so you can easily transfer your data to a charting program or to a word processor via cut and paste. †
A similar product:
MathCAD - MathSoft Inc., 101 Main St., Cambridge, MA 02142.