Time to bring back the inch?

Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory. Seventh Edition - Electronic Devices. Fifth Edition
November 26, 1999

What is the purpose of a course text? Is it the core or is it a supplement to some other mode of delivery, and is purchase obligatory? In difficult times these are important questions for teachers and students. Many books are beyond a student budget, while college staff, teaching upwards of 26 hours a week, find little time for preparation. This is where fully integrated texts are valuable, providing a high level of tutorial assistance and self-assessment problems at a reasonable price.

Is there a market for these texts? Electronics in general and electronic devices in particular are victims of their own success. New courses that have evolved in a world created by electronics threaten the survival of these disciplines, and units dedicated to devices have been dropped from many degree programmes. If there is a market, then these are ideal modern texts. What is to choose between them? Thomas Floyd's book is hardbacked and uses colour to advantage. Robert Boylestad and Louis Nashelsky's is more advanced in depth and mathematical rigour. Consequently they seem to divide neatly between college and university use. The first half of each covers identical material in an almost identical order. The treatment is appropriate and the diagrams generally helpful. The subsequent ordering of material varies. Each covers topics that the other leaves out. Many overloaded lecturers may benefit from having both texts.

Both claim to be "international editions" but many examples use 60Hz and 110V. Some acknowledgement of 50Hz and 220-240V would help to broaden the scope. Floyd seems to avoid the use of imperial units, but not Boylestad. Many of the present generation of students have never encountered the inch as a unit of measurement. Finally, both texts devote much time to explaining the concept of average voltage. There seems to be no in-text explanation of the more difficult concept of rms voltage that appears in several end-of-chapter examples, although Boylestad includes an incidental, calculus-rich treatment in an appendix. Was this an oversight?

Donard de Cogan is reader in electronics, University of East Anglia.

Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory. Seventh Edition

Author - Robert L. Boylestad and Louis Nashelsky
ISBN - 0 13 973777 4
Publisher - Prentice Hall
Price - £29.99
Pages - 926 + CD

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