# Locking a value when Manipulating variables

I'm trying to achieve something similar to Bret Victor's brilliant Scrubbing Calculator in Mathematica.

By using Manipulate I'd like to change the values of the variables such that if I modify one the others adapt to ensure the equation is always true.

In the example below I'd like to be able to move spaces and have boxes change accordingly.

Manipulate[4 spaces + 3 boxes = 640, {spaces, 0, 640}, {boxes, 0, 640}]


Solving for the two variables explicitly I can achieve the desired effect but doing so kind of voids the idea of an intuitive calculator.

Manipulate[{Dynamic[spaces = 160 - (3 boxes)/4],
Dynamic[boxes = -(4/3) (spaces - 160)]}, {boxes, 0, 640}, {spaces,
0, 640}]


Now, kind Mathematicans, my question is this:

Is there a way of doing this the first, more intuitive, way?

• Could you please post copiable code so that whoever wants to give solutions can easily do that? Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 15:55
• Ok, you've added it. thanks. Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 16:25
• Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 9:06

Well, I have needed before to link variables within a manipulate object, and I always get complicated dynamic things, for your example if you want to add constraints to your variables, you could come up with something like this:

Module[{spaces, boxes, lastboxes, lastspaces, condition, solvebox,
solvespace},
condition[s_, b_] := 4 s + 3 b == 640;
solvebox[s_] := b /. First[Solve[condition[s, b], b]];
solvespace[b_] := s /. First[Solve[condition[s, b], s]];
lastboxes = 100;
lastspaces = solvespace[lastboxes];
Manipulate[{spaces, boxes},
Control[{{boxes, lastboxes, "Boxes"}, 0, 640}],
Control[{{spaces, lastspaces, "Spaces"}, 0, 640}],
Dynamic[If[! condition[spaces, boxes],
If[lastboxes === boxes,
With[{newbox = solvebox[spaces]},
If[newbox < 0, spaces = solvespace[boxes], lastboxes = boxes;
boxes = solvebox[spaces]]],
With[{newspaces = solvespace[boxes]},
If[newspaces < 0, boxes = lastboxes, lastboxes = boxes;
spaces = newspaces]]];]; ""], ControlPlacement -> Left,
Deployed -> True]
]


That Dynamic after Control objects comes pretty good to do that stuff, but does your code become bigger.

• Thank you for your answer. This does indeed achieve the same result, but doesn't quite manage to do so in a simpler, more intuitive way. It is quite possible that what I'm asking is not possible in Mathematica. Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 8:41