[mandelbrot set] MATH DEPT Computer News, Volume 4

Xess, the spreadsheet.

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  A B C D E F
1 Cantor, Georg 95 90 49 48  
2 Dedekind, Richard 98 80 40 45  
3 Gauss, Karl F. 100 100 0 0  
4 Kronecker, Sid 55 40 49 49  
5 Riemann, Bernard 85 70 25 20  
6 Weierstrass, Karl 45 40 19 18  

(There is a UNIX spreadsheet on our system called vc but it is dorky. Type man vc to see more about it.)

UNIX lovers compute grades using awk, sed, and perl, but others prefer to use a spreadsheet like Excel. I explain here how to use the Excel-like spreadsheet Xess3 which is available on omni.cc.purdue.edu and how to have xess window output sent from omni.cc to the math dept SUN workstation on your desk.

First, get yourself an account on omni.cc.purdue.edu by going down to the PUCC office on the second floor of MATH and filling out a little form.

I assume that you are sitting at the workstation on your desk in your office and that you are using X-windows.

On your machine, type

xhost + omni.cc

Next, rlogin to omni.cc.purdue.edu from an xterm window on your machine by typing

rlogin omni.cc

in the window. At the omni.cc.purdue.edu% prompt, type

setenv DISPLAY yourmachine.math:0

where yourmachine is the name of the machine on your desk.

Now when you type

xess &

at the omni.cc.purdue.edu% prompt, the xess window will appear on the screen at your desk. (By the way, xess on omni resides at /usr/opt/bin/xess.) You might also find that programs like netscape and maple run faster and better on omni.cc than they do at the box on your desk. These programs can be run on omni and viewed at your desk in exactly the same way.

If you are sitting at an X-termial connected to banach or cantor, you can do a similar thing. Click HERE for more information. You can even run xess on omni from a PC in a PUCC lab anywhere on campus. See xess on omni from a PC for more info.

The online help that comes with xess is rather easy to use. Just click on HELP at the upper right corner of the window and select INDEX.

By the way, the hardest thing to learn about xess in order to be able to compute grades is syntax like this:




and how to copy a formula like this to a whole column of cells using the COPY command in the EDIT menu. (My first guess turned out to be correct -- see below.)

I will now give a step by step description of how I set up a grade sheet for my MATH 262 class. First, I entered the students' names in column A by clicking on cell A1 and then typing a name and then pushing the DOWN arrow on my keyboard (without pushing RETURN) to automatically enter the name and move down to the next cell. After that I just typed in names followed by the down arrow. Don't worry about squeezing the names into the cells because after all the names are entered, you can highlight the whole column of names by mousing and dragging and then pull down the FORMAT menu and pull down the COLUMN WIDTH submenu and then select SNAP WIDTH TO CONTENTS to enlarge the cells to hold the names.

Next, I entered the scores into the proper cells using the arrow keys (without pushing RETURN).

Finally, I wanted the sum of the numbers in columns B and C plus the number in column D divided by 50 plus the number in column E divided by 50 to go into column F (rounded to an integer). I went to cell F1 and entered


and pushed RETURN. Then I selected COPY FORMULAS from the COPY submenu of the EDIT menu. Then I mouse and dragged over the cells F2 through F39 so that F2 through F39 were highlighted. And voila, when I released the mouse button, all the sums appeared in column F.

To change the width of cells so that the sheet will print nicely, you can highlight a large portion of the sheet by mousing and dragging and then select FORMAT and go to the COLUMN WIDTHS submenu of the COLUMN WIDTHS menu and experiment with numbers in the little dialogue box.

To sort the rows in the sheet into the order determined by the grand total in column F, select SORT from the tools menu. Next, type in A1..F39 in the the RANGE box so that the order of the whole rows in the big box A1-F39 get changed with respect to the numbers in column F. Next, type F1..F39 in the KEY 1 box and click on the DESCENDING check box. Finally, select OK or APPLY at the bottom of the dialogue box. You should get a sorted list based on the numbers in column F and it should be easy to set cut offs for grades. (To put the rows back in alphabetical order, just change the F1..F39 in the KEY 1 box to A1..A39 and uncheck the DESCENDING box and select OK.)

To save your spreadsheet for future use, select SAVE AS from the FILE menu and type a file name in the dialogue box like grades.xs3 (that .xs3 file extension seems to be important).

To save the sheet as a plain ASCII text file (for printing or file transfer), select EXPORT from the FILE menu and select TEXT from the FILE FORMAT menu and then type in a file name like sheet.txt in the dialogue box. Push return or click on OK to make the transfer.

To print a fancy PostScript version of the worksheet, I select PRINT AS from the xess File menu and select Printer Type: POSTSCRIPT and Destination: FILE from the Printer Options. I type in a file name like sheet.ps in the Selection box and this saves my work as a PostScript file sheet.ps. Then I ftp the file sheet.ps to my math account using the commands

ftp ftp.math
put sheet.ps

and print the PostScript file on a math dept printer via the command

lpr sheet.ps

You can also print directly from omni.cc to the printer called mathil (which is in the basement of the MATH building) using the command

lp -d mathil sheet.ps

If you have been keeping grades in a text file in which names and grades are separated by white space (i.e., any combination of tabs and spaces), you can easily read the file into a new spreadsheet. Ftp your text file to omni and call it something like grades.txt. Select IMPORT from the FILE menu in Xess and type in grades.txt in the dialogue box. Click on OK. Your grades should be read into the sheet so that each name or score lands in the appropriate cell.

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