Jan Lukasiewicz (inset) and a selection of calculators based on Reverse Polish notation
This month, as part of its ongoing commitment to the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), the NHTI Library features an exhibit on the work of Polish logician and philosopher Jan Lukasiewicz (1878-1956). Lukasiewicz is best know for the development of "Polish notation," a method of formulating mathematical and logical equations without using parentheses. A variation of his system, Reverse Polish notation, underlies the architecture of some computer systems, calculators and programming languages still used today.
The Library's display includes a variety of Hewlett Packard calculators based on Reverse Polish notation from the personal collection of Fred Harrington. A peculiarity of these calculators is that they have no "equals" key! (You don't need one to do Reverse Polish equations.)
Although Reverse Polish calculators have largely been supplanted by "natural language" calculators, some argue that they are inherently superior. Like the Betamax, they died out even though they're better!
Also on display at the Library for "STEM Season" is a selection of books, videos, and CDs from the Library's permanent collection. The exhibit encompass both historical works and cutting-edge research, and all items are available to borrow.