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Books to start off with Calculus

  1. Nov 18, 2012 #1
    So Ive decided to start off with Calculus and Ive heard alot about Spivaks and Apostols Calculus.. WHat I wanted to know was that if it's appropriate for a newbie? If not what books would you suggest a beginner to start off with ( I dont mind rigor as I look forward to challenges and intuitivite explanations would be nice ) Thanks.
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  3. Nov 18, 2012 #2
    Spivak or Apostol are not nice on newbies at all, and I wouldn't recommend them.

    I would suggest Lang's "a first course in calculus" as a good primer on calculus. The book is rigorous, but it skips the hardest parts of calculus (epsilon-delta stuff). Once you've worked through this book, you might want to go back to Spivak and try that. You will be much more prepared for it and you will be more able to see the beauty in the book.
  4. Nov 21, 2012 #3


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    you might also go to the library stacks and browse. a book i thought interesting was cruse and granberg, lectures on freshman calculus.
  5. Nov 21, 2012 #4
  6. Nov 21, 2012 #5


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    the three books suggested so far here are rather different from each other, so you can see we all have different ideas of what is a good book. lang is clear and concise, cruse and granberg stress motivation, and i'm not sure what people like about strang, although it is free. this is why i suggest you go to library and look at them yourself.
  7. Nov 23, 2012 #6

    Ill do that.. but Could you perhaps use some of the books mentioned here in conjuction or would that just be a dumb thing to do? (Ill use Spivaks and Apostols for a second reading )
  8. Nov 23, 2012 #7
    I have used Lang's "A first course in calculus" a little bit for my high school class (we are going through derivatives and integration right now) and the presentation of the mathematics so far is excellent. The first edition, "Short Calculus", only has about 270 pages, so If you could get your hands on that one it would probably speed things up for you, so you can turn to more advanced expositions sooner, if that's your plan. Good luck!
  9. Nov 23, 2012 #8
    Strang is good, unless you want to learn some theory along the way. Don't get me wrong, he's really good at explaining calculus conceptually, you're just not gonna be doing much in the way of proofs.

    To be honest, my advice is to look at two or three texts roughly simultaniously (if you have the time), so you experience more than one way of looking at the subject. The prior posters have recommended some good ones. I would probably add Thomas to that list as well.

    One other thing: I honestly don't see why you couldn't at least *look* through Spivak as a beginner, as long as that's not the only text you use.


    EDIT: Apostol is wonderful as well (though his initial presentation starts with integration coming before differentiation)! His style is considerably different from Spivak. The books (it's a two-volume set) have more material in them; for one thing, you can gain a fair knowledge of linear algebra as well if you work your way through both books.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  10. Nov 23, 2012 #9

    Ill defo give a look at SPivak and Apostol , thanks :) all of you folks
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