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Software Development | ||

The Department has recently shown great interest in the usage of computing in research and educational activities. A small computing laboratory has been established at the Department. The departmental computers were networked in 1995, mainly due to the efforts of Channa Navaratna. Much difficulty was faced in configuring the available PC versions of software to the network. The network is expected to be periodically reviewed and updated, based on the Departmental requirements. The Department feels that it has much to contribute in the field of software development. Current software projects at the Department fall into 3 broad categories. - Educational software (for Computer Aided Learning, CAL)
- Administrative software
- Mathematical software (for design and research)
EDUCATIONAL SOFTWAREThe concept of Computer Aided Learning (CAL) continues to gain popularity throughout the world. The Department has for some time, been developing software for such a purpose, particularly focused towards its undergraduate curriculum. Areas in which computer packages can complement lectures, such as linear algebra, solid geometry, differential equations, numerical methods, etc., have been identified. Though many routines are available in various software packages, they are not necessarily easy to use for undergraduates unfamiliar with computers. The Department wishes to remove this barrier by providing user friendly interfaces, while possibly utilizing available software to support the calculations. The current facilities available in the university make it practical to provide unlimited access to such software, once developed, for every single student. However, with a view to the future, the Department is continuing to develop educational software, in the hope that the necessary financial support may be forthcoming. A brief account of progress in the field of Computer Aided learning packages follows. Linear Algebra - Ratnamali Palamakumbura, S.P.C. Perera & Sarath SuyambalapitiyaA preliminary package is being developed as a supplementary tool for the undergraduate linear algebra curriculum. Included in this package will be routines to handle matrix multiplication, determining matrix inverses, and solution of simultaneous equations. A further package will handle additional matrix functions. An important criterion will be the provision of a menu-driven interface which gives students instant access to the required application. Linear Programming - Ruwangani Gunatilleke, S.P.C. Perera & Sarath SiyambalapitiyaA software for linear programming, with applications in Operations Research, is being eveloped. Currently, the analysis of various algorithms is underway, with the goal of identifying the most efficient methods for the specific problems that will be addressed. Sequences - T.D.M.A. SamuelThe computer package "Sequences" guides first year students through a work-sheet, in which the concepts of convergence, divergence and oscillation of sequences are highlighted. The package was initially developed in 1988, to be run on the then available SORD M23 computers. Based upon experience in using the programme and on student questionnaires, a report was prepared in 1991, which concluded that CAL was a most effective learning tool, and advocated further developing this field. Iterative Methods - T.D.M.A. SamuelAlso developed about the same time as the "Sequences" package, this package supported the then Numerical Analysis course for third year students, by demonstrating how iterative schemes function. Software which will help in maintaining administrative records in the Department is being developed. Student personal databases, attendance registers, ;performances, departmental inventories, accounts, etc., fall into this category. It is expected that some of the software developed by the department can eventually be extended for use in the entire university system. Some ongoing projects are as follows.ADMINISTRATIVE SOFTWAREStudent Information System - Ajith Nilwakka, S.P.C. Perera & Sarath SiyambalapitiyaAs part of an educational institution, the Department has recognized the importance of maintaining individual records of the students that it teaches. Personal data, mathematics tutorial, assessment test and examination performance, attendance, Advanced Level performance and district from which the student qualified, etc. are included in the database. Averages, percentiles, etc. are calculated automatically, and there is provision for the teacher to include special comments concerning the student when necessary. Various search engines have been provided to produce various reports, which will help identify students having difficulties, and enable statistical analysis. An essential part of the database is a security system which provides access only to authorized personnel. The software development has been completed, and the Department is in the process of implementing the Student Information System. This database is expected to be of immense value in the process of providing recommendations, referee's reports, and issuing certificates to students. Inventory System - Ajith Nilwakka, S.P.C. Perera & Sarath SiyambalapitiyaA software package is being developed to be used as an inventory for the administration of the Department. Separate segments are provided for furniture, electrical appliances, computer equipment, etc. Provision is made to update records, and to include specifications if required. This package is also expected to help in preparing annual inventory reports after stock-taking. MATHEMATICAL SOFTWAREIn some instances, the currently available software packages have proven inadequate for certain academic research work of our staff. In these cases, it has been necessary for the Department to develop the requisite software. Moreover, with the establishment of the Engineering Design Centre at the University of Peradeniya in 1997, software targeted towards specific engineering design problems has become a necessity. With these in mind, the Department has begun to develop mathematical software -- new tools for use in engineering research and design. Plotting Software for LATEX - Channa NavaratnaThe standard graph plotting software used with LATEX is GNU, which has a number of limitations. The objective of this project was to develop a user friendly plotting software that can be directly incorporated in LATEX. This package supports a high level command language which facilitates easy formatting of plots, and inputting of data. The core of the package is a translator which converts the command file to a LATEX code which can easily be input to the main document as a .text file. REGSIM Drivers for PC Lab Card Interface - Kirthi Walgama & W.M.S. RanasingheThe REGulation and SIMulation (REGSIM) software package is a powerful tool used in simulation, ata acquisition and control. Currently the real time digital controllers for research work at the Department are implemented in REGSIM. It is therefore necessary for the REGSIM package to communicate with PC lab cards. This project develops a driver, which acts as a interface between the PC lab card and REGSIM. The driver is written in Modula-2. Analysis of Solar Radiation Data - S.R. Wijesundara & T.D.M.A.SamuelSolar energy radiation measurements from various parts of Sri Lanka have been collected for the past 15 years, for the purposes of research. This project developed a software package which could be used to analyse and present this data in suitable forms. Monthly mean daily global radiation, cumulative frequencies, sampling intervals and mean radiation are calculated by this package, which then generates cumulative curves, generalized KT curves and Liu-Jordan curves. |
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