PALO ALTO, California – Every engineer who has ever used a Hewlett-Packard calculator knows what Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) is.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:

In RPN, the operators follow their operands; for instance, to add 3 and 4 together, one would write 3 4 + rather than 3 + 4. If there are multiple operations, operators are given immediately after their final operands (often an operator takes two operands, in which case the operator is written after the second operand); so the expression written 3 − 4 + 5 in conventional notation would be written 3 4 − 5 + in RPN: 4 is first subtracted from 3, then 5 is added to it. An advantage of RPN is that it removes the need for parentheses that are required by infix notation. While 3 − 4 × 5 can also be written 3 − (4 × 5), that means something quite different from (3 − 4) × 5. In RPN, the former could be written 3 4 5 × −, which unambiguously means 3 (4 5 ×) − which reduces to 3 20 − (which can further be reduced to -17); the latter could be written 3 4 − 5 × (or 5 3 4 − ×, if keeping similar formatting), which unambiguously means (3 4 −) 5 ×.

An example Reverse Polish Notation calculation, that shows how a seemingly simple calculation can be quite complex to explain.

Got that?  Geologists, landmen, managers and executives have been befuddled by RPN for, like, forever.  Now there is hope on the horizon.  At Bendovus Energy, petroleum engineer Sidney Sleidreul was frustrated by having to enter columns of numbers in his HP calculator for the most basic of operations.  He had a brilliant insight when he found a shortcut to RPN, namely Inverse Polish Notation (IPN).  In simplest terms, this means you start with the answer you want and then add, subtract, multiply or divide data until you get to zero.  This will be especially beneficial to executives, most of whom have lost the ability to use any sort of electronic device or pencil and paper.

Sidney Sleidreul, P.Eng., holding an early prototype of his IPN calculator.

A key element to this IPN process is a new microchip designed by the Chinese company Huawei.  When implanted in a person’s skull, it reads thoughts and transmits them to the calculator.  So, to use IPN one simply has to think of what you have to fudge to come up with the answer you want.  The downside is that the Chinese Communist Party can take control of your brain and cause you to send all your money to Beijing, renounce your citizenship and swear never ending personal allegiance to Xi Jinpingpong.  A small price to pay, according to Sleidreul.


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