Nomography Article in the UMAP Journal

Projectile_Trajectory_Small2Last summer a fellow nomography enthusiast and friend, Joe Marasco, e-troduced me to the editor of the Undergraduate Mathematics and Its Applications (UMAP) Journal, with the idea of submitting my original 3-part nomography essay on this blog for publication. The experience I’ve had on this project with Paul Campbell, a professor at Beloit College and the editor of the journal, has been superb. In addition to his enthusiastic support on the article, he invited me to give talks on nomography and sundials at the college, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing last September.

The article, a significantly revised version of my blog essay, has now been published in the UMAP Journal, and per the standard agreement I can post the PDF of the article here for anyone to download. More information and a link to the article are below.

A blog article is quite a different animal from a journal article, but fortunately the On Jargon feature of the journal is intended for expository articles. In writing it I expanded the topics of the original essay while abbreviating or eliminating other areas. For example, grid nomograms are now included in the article along with a method for creating the initial determinant of an equation without guesswork. In addition, 21 new nomograms were created for the article using PyNomo software—some will look familiar from my PyNomo essay and calendar. But the original blog essay proceeds at a more relaxed pace, and it includes more of my thoughts on today’s status of nomograms at the end. For this reason I certainly recommend my original essay as well, particularly as a first introduction to nomography.

So if you’d like to read the article, here’s the link:

The Lost Art of Nomography

The journal has a small 6″x9″ page format, so you may find the text to be a bit large when it’s printed. On the other hand, the figures are vector-drawn and will be shown larger than in the journal (in fact, you can zoom and print them on large paper for use). You can select a smaller paper size when printing if you like the smaller format.

I’d like to thank another friend and nomography advocate, Leif Roschier, for writing the PyNomo software I used to create the nomograms. I can’t imagine drawing them in any other way.

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9 thoughts on “Nomography Article in the UMAP Journal

  1. Scott Finegan April 20, 2010 / 7:29 am

    A really fine article.
    Thank you for your contributions to keeping nomography alive, and growing. I will print the resistor nomograms and use them in place of exercising my brain. 😉 The added detail and explanations in this article are appreciated.
    Thanks, Scott. It occurs to me that the resistor nomograms might be really, really useful if standard resistor values were marked on the scales. Then if someone needs a particular resistance that is non-standard (as they often are), they could place the straightedge on this value on the middle scale and play with the angle of the straightedge to see what two standard resistors in parallel will provide the nearest resistance to the desired one. This is something that can’t be done on a calculator. If you or anyone reading this would like me to add markers for standard resistor values to the scales, let me know and I’ll do that and provide a link here to download the new versions. — Ron


  2. Joe Marasco April 20, 2010 / 11:50 am

    Ron, thanks for a truly amazing article. You start from the very basics of nomography and take the reader through the most advanced and sophisticated techniques by the conclusion. It is a tour de force! Not to mention that you show how the nomographer can optimize the presentation so that the user obtains the best precision possible. Your comments on the artistic value are also extremely cogent.
    Those of us interested in continuing the propagation of nomography salute you!
    Thanks, Joe! People here should be aware that you were way ahead of me on spreading the word on nomograms. For other readers: When I first started looking for information, Joe’s site was one of the very, very few that discussed nomography, and Joe has also recently published an important article on nomography in a medical journal (see the nomography section of Joe’s website). — Ron


  3. Glen April 21, 2010 / 10:28 pm

    Nice. Thanks Ron.
    With small pages like that I generally organize to print them 2 to a page—it doesn’t shrink them much when printing to A4, similarly with 8.5×11 (91.8% and 91.7% respectively—the critical edge changes, but the loss in size is essentially the same). At nearly 92% the loss in readibility is minimal, and halves the paper used.
    It’s only with journals I find hard to read—a few use small or unclear fonts already that my ageing eyes can’t deal well with—that I go to 1 per page and make it big.
    Good idea, Glen. I’d like to reformat the PDF file to span a full page, but the LaTeX source I submitted for the article has been edited at various points and I don’t have the final LaTeX source to recompile with a new page size. I’ve looked in the Acrobat menu to see if I can make the default print setup as two pages per side in the PDF file, but the Print Setup menu option seems to leave that setting to the printer-specific setup. So this may be something the user has to specify when printing. If I’m missing something, maybe someone here will let me know. Thanks for the advice. — Ron


  4. George and Barb April 27, 2010 / 8:17 pm

    Looks wonderful Ron.


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