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Calc book for reviewing calc I-III

  1. Aug 13, 2013 #1
    Hi everyone. I got my BS in physics 5 years ago, and I've gotten the urge to brush up on my math and physics, as I haven't used it much since graduating.

    I'm looking for a book that I can use to brush up on calc I - III. I really want a book that is heavy on real-world problems (I'm thinking science- or engineering-related problems). Spivak gets mentioned a lot here, but I get bored with proofs, so I don't think it's for me. I used the Stewart book back in college, but I don't remember a whole lot about it. I've also seen the Larson, Anton, and Thomas books get mentioned as "standard" calc textbooks. I've bought the Schaum's outline for Calculus (and diff eq), but they are both just so dry and dull.

    Actually, I'm looking at the Google Books preview of the Stewart book, and it contains a lot of real-world problems. Why do people hate the Stewart book so much?

    So, any suggestions? Thanks!
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2013 #2


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    I did a quick look for books that seem less dry or at least more helpful with their explanations.

    https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Tra...mm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1376461902&sr=8-68 -- 1240 pages
    https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Earl-W-Swokowski/dp/0534936245 - 1408 pages
    https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Int...qid=1376462750&sr=8-1&keywords=calculus+kline - 960 pages

    The one I'd choose is Edwards & Penney, it has a ton of content and all the reviews I've found now and before were glowing. But read more about each and then decide.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  4. Aug 14, 2013 #3
    Thanks for the reply. I was looking at the Kline book you mentioned, and it may be a good bet.
  5. Aug 14, 2013 #4


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    For self study/review...I would avoid the Larson book like the plague. My school uses Larson books for all of the math from Elementary Algebra up to Calc III, and they're awful. They offer very little in the way of actual explanations of the theory behind the subjects. It's more like "here's an example of an incredibly simple problem, and we will now assume that you can solve problems that are 10 times more difficult."

    If you're just looking for a book with a lot of exercises, the Larson books are good. Some of the exercises are very challenging, and they do progress in difficulty in each section quite well. The exercises in each section start with simpler, basic problems, and move up through sets of problems with each concept contained in the section. Then each section ends with a set of problems that incorporate all of the concepts from the section, as well as a set of word problems, some of which are quite challenging.

    However, many other books offer similar sets of exercises, but couple them with good explanations.
  6. Aug 24, 2013 #5


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    Here is a free book online from Benjamin Crowell (is he the same fellow here on PF?) that covers single variable calculus. At a first glance it looks like it has some interesting problems for a physicist:


    Another book that might hit the right spot for a physicist looking at math, more at the calc III level and beyond, is the book by James nearing:


    I have not read my final idea (and it isn't free), but The Theoretical Minimum by Susskind looks interesting:


    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  7. Aug 26, 2013 #6
    Thanks. I'll be avoiding the Larson book. I have ran across the stuff by Benjamin Crowell before, but I forgot about it. I have been considering getting The Theoretical Minimum as well, it does sound interesting.
  8. Aug 26, 2013 #7
  9. Aug 27, 2013 #8


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    A "Larson" authored textbook of Calculus would not be awful. It is adequate for review of concepts and for exercises. I used an older version of one of their Calculus books. A better book, although limited to single-variable, is a James Stewart Calculus textbook, which seems to be very good on explaining the concepts. Another book not quite as good, but could help fill in some of the concepts is a Howard Anton book on Calculus, a really thick book that includes the multivariable stuff.
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