Calculus I - without a calculator

  1. I'm taking Calculus I in the spring and the instructor sent out out an email outlining the course. He stated that he did not allow calculators on the final. Is this common? I did well in my precalc maths, but I like to be able to check my answers with a calculator - especially during a test. I have seen comments that you don't need a calculator for calculus.

    Thanks,
    Steve
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Ben Niehoff

    Ben Niehoff 1,703
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    Real math isn't done with a calculator. It's not about crunching numbers; it's about applying concepts.

    No-calculator tests are actually to your advantage, for two reasons:

    1. The problems should be simple to work out by just applying the concepts. No laborious long division or any such distractions, and

    2. The problems will likely be designed such that the answers come out to nice, simple formulas (note that the idea of "simple" varies, of course). Therefore, you know that you're doing something wrong if your answer starts to get too complicated.
     
  4. This is extremly common and I believe for the best as Ben Niehoff has noted.
    Boo calculators!
     
  5. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,952
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    I suspect the reason is the number of graphical calculators that can do symbolic integration - you rarely need to quote a decimal answer in a calculus class.
     
  6. JasonRox

    JasonRox 2,327
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    I like never use a calculator!
     
  7. Ben Niehoff

    Ben Niehoff 1,703
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    I still have my old HP-49G, but I don't remember how it works. :P

    My calculator is made entirely of deceased trees!* If I need to crunch numbers I fire up Excel or Maple.

    * In various states of processing and decay.
     
  8. mathwonk

    mathwonk 9,721
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    i never allow them. they are quite harmful to learning actually. most of my current calc 2 students were totally unable to find a simple plane area on my final due to not being able to even graph the region. i suspect they had been allowed to use graphing calculators on exams in high school.

    nothing wrong with a calculator after you understand the material but when learning it, it is a large hindrance.
     
  9. Calculators don't have their place in Calculus or Analysis.
     
  10. mathwonk

    mathwonk 9,721
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    well i used mine to calculate e to 9 or 10 places, from about 14 terms of the taylor series. i have a $10 "scientific" calculator, with all the bells and whistles i ever use.

    then i noticed that euler listed about 100 places of pi done presumably by hand, (but he was off in about the 80th digit, unless his book has a typo).
     
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