Comparison of Nomogram to Computer Software Solution

 

Characteristic
Computer Software
Nomogram
Hardware Requirements One of the following: Computer or Dedicated Terminal or Bespoke Calculator or Smart Phone Any straightedge (Ruler is fine, but gradations not necessary)
Software Requirements An application encapsulating the relationships relevant to the problem addressed A graphical representation of the relationships relevant to the problem addressed
Infrastructure Requirements Computing resources of some kind, including perhaps access to the Internet; if a Smart Phone, having appropriate app Ambient light
Energy Required Usually a.c. or batteries for power Ambient light
Learning Curve Knowing what numbers to punch into the app, plus the learning curve of the hw, sw, and infrastructure Knowing how to connect two points to project a straight line
Documentation Variable, depending on hardware, software, and infrastructure required Self-documenting
Tool distribution Most likely access to the Internet Ability to distribute a single sheet of paper
Results distribution Need printer or Internet connection Ability to distribute a single sheet of paper
Cost Variable (see above) Cost of duplicating and transmitting a single page image
Accuracy As many decimal places as you want, provided the software has been programmed to provide them As many decimal places as you need, given the precision and accuracy of the input data
Speed As fast as your hardware can respond As fast as you can draw a straight line
Sensitivity analysis Repeated data sets Examination of graphic
Implicit solution Usually difficult or not possible Automatic
Most common failure mode Punching in the wrong numbers Can’t find a straightedge
Need to actually perform calculation None None
Third World applicability May be a problem in countries with limited computing accessibility Works so long as pencil and paper are available
GIGO Susceptibility High, and may be hard to detect Garbage In is clearly documented
Permanence Need a printer if you want to capture the numbers punched in Automatically creates a written record as part of usage pattern
Trust factor Did the programmer get it right? Did the nomographer get it right?
Communication Limited to single number output Can discuss graphic interactively
Pizzazz factor High: Very modern and “with it” Low: Fuddy-duddy slide rule-like technology

 

©2012 Joe Marasco, Ron Doerfler and Leif Roschier. All Rights Reserved.