Quote by urtalkinstupid
Wouldn't that be:
[tex]E=\Delta q +W[/tex]
The change in heat would be more reasonable. You take the final temperature and subtract from the initial, right? This gives the total amount of heat put into the system.

You make a good point. But in fact neither q nor w need to be thought of as a change. The heat in particular is just a quantity passing the boundary between the system and the surroundings. We sum the the heat and the work to get the quantity, E. This is certainly a delta if you want to think about absolute energy of the system, but there are problems with this and it is not necessary to reference the change from absolute energy content for most thermodynamic problems.