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Washington University in St. Louis is a medium-sized, independent research university dedicated to challenging its faculty and students alike to seek new knowledge and greater understanding of an ever-changing, multicultural world. The university is counted am... more.
Thanks to Hugh Chou of Genome Systems, Inc. for these calculators!
Boston.com / Press Releases / Ascribe / Science & Technology Tips From Washington University in St. Louis: Genome, Evolution, Calculators, Women Engineers
From refinancing a mortgage to planning your retirement, there's an online calculator to help, thanks to Mr. Chou Winter is a cold, calculating time.Whatever it is you intend to calculate this winter, from refinancing your mortgage to figuring out how long your savings will last during retirement, it will help to find Hugh Chou, system and network administrator at Washington University in St. Louis, on the Internet.That's because Chou has on his Web site a whopping 45 different calculators.More info -- http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/2003/science-tech/chou.html Girls Can Become Engineers, Too Washington University program grooms women engineers National Engineers Week is Feb. 16-23, but don't expect to see a living, breathing team of women engineers on "The Gilmore Girls" or "Dawson's Creek" that week.
JS Online: Hugh's useful Web world
I was destined to meet Hugh.Personal FinancePhoto/Courtesy of Hugh Chou Hugh Chou - a software engineer, system administrator and "general purpose academic geek" at Washington University in St. Louis - has created a number a handy personal-finance calculators and put them on his Web site.QuotableA lot of people think refinancing their mortgage will save their life because all of the sudden instead of paying $400 a month, they'll pay $300 a month. - Hugh Chou,software engineer, system administrator and computer support specialistOnline: Hugh ChouAll of the things financial I've ever wondered about - how much of my mortgage payment chips away at principal, how much money I'd save by brown-bagging my lunches, how my net worth stacks up to everyone else's - Hugh has wondered about too.The difference between us is that, fortunately, Hugh has the ability to formulate calculations and turn them into Internet programs that answer all those questions.Hugh Chou is a software engineer, system administrator and computer support specialist at Washington University in St. Louis or, as he puts it, "a general purpose academic geek."I found Hugh a few years ago after a Google search for "amortization table" brought me to his Web site.I've been using his calculators to track my mortgage payments and make re-financing decisions ever since.Hugh has a unique skill set and low fee schedule for those seeking calculator construction services or personalized assistance.But his popularity likely rests on the witty commentary that accompanies his calculators.And he understands what many people don't: Financial calculators aren't just about math."You can always skew the numbers however you want them to look," Hugh says.His calculations back that up, giving great insight into how numbers can be manipulated.Take his calculator for how much house you can afford.A lot of people would think about their income, and maybe their monthly debt payments, and come up with a number.Hugh's calculation includes such factors as property tax, home insurance and the down payment.Understanding assumptionsThe more you delve into Hugh's world, the more you realize assumptions are 90% of the challenge.Hugh understands that.Take his calculator for making the decision about whether to refinance or not."A lot of people think refinancing their mortgage will save their life because all of the sudden instead of paying $400 a month, they'll pay $300 a month," Hugh says.But refinancing isn't always the best deal.If you're close to paying off your mortgage, for example, you probably shouldn't refinance, Hugh says.Hugh understands that too.That's why you get his quips with his calculators.For example, Hugh points out up front the faults of his Wealth Percentile Score calculator, which helps you compare how your net worth stacks up to others in your age range."The interpolation shouldn't really be linear, but hey, I'm just doing this for fun.So, tada, here is my new calculator.Enjoy," he says.T-shirts and charitiesHugh started making his Internet calculators in 1995 when his department at Washington University wanted some content to use for testing its new Web site.That effort snowballed and, fueled by suggestions from Internet surfers, Hugh now has on his Web site 45 calculators, along with a description of how to calculate mortgage amortizations by hand.For your mortgage, you can find calculators for figuring out a loan refinancing comparison, the after-tax interest rate of your mortgage, balloon mortgage and bi-weekly mortgage payments, and mortgage duration, so you can determine how long a mortgage will last with a certain payment.I didn't trust Hugh when I first found him.But I entered my mortgage information into his calculator and tracked it against my mortgage statements for several years.He was always on target.I also wondered why - if Hugh is so money savvy - he spends valuable free time making calculators for the Internet without much financial benefit."I've always had an interest in personal finance, and I'm a computer geek by trade," Hugh says."I like doing a little more real world stuff."Hugh, as much as anyone, knows there's no such thing as a free lunch.He's developed all kinds of compensation arrangements for his Internet hobby.For a while, he asked grateful users to send T-shirts and sweat shirts but stopped once he had 43.Now he asks for money, which he then channels to his favorite charities.And then there was the serendipitous Bundt cake, which was delivered to Hugh's home as a one-time payment from a woman Hugh helped with her retirement plan.Hugh spends three to four hours a week answering the questions people send him via e-mail."Over the years I've heard a lot about what people need so I've tried to tweak things," he says.He asks "customers" to send him a donation, which he gives to a designated "charity of the month."Hugh has channeled more than $17,000 since 1996 to his list of charities, which includes Habitat for Humanity, the Taiwanese Association of America's Taiwan Quake Relief Fund, and the Christian Children's Fund.Less expensive lunchAs for lunch, Hugh himself brown-bags it - the inspiration for his "Lunch Savings" calculator.That calculator requires assumptions for investment yield, and the price of homemade lunch vs. one from a restaurant.It doesn't account for certain benefits of bringing a lunch, though."As I sit here eating my cheap 'brown bag' lunch here as always at work, I thought I would calculate the small fortune I have amassed by eating like this (besides the fact that I get extra time to program and surf the Net!)," Hugh says in his commentary next to the calculator.That's the kind of wit that kept a tax attorney like Vitek clicking on Hugh's calculators.
June 2006 NewWork News Web Tips
Hugh Chou is a postgraduate-trained computer specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.He's developed a number of financial calculators, which are available on his site, and he's also listed what he regards as several personal finance myths.
Powered by Hugh Chou, Washington University in St. LouisCalculate Again?