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Good Textbook(s) for Pre-Calc/Calculus Study?

  1. Jun 29, 2012 #1
    Hi there. My title sums up the majority of my question, pretty much I'm looking for a good text book that will either help me understand the basics of calculus, or put me on a path to do so. I would prefer that the book can be bought through an online retailer and -of course- not cost an extreme amount of money. I must stress that in the case of a calculus textbook it must be for a beginner.

    Perhaps something you used at the time, or one you have found to be very useful. Thanks for any and all assistance :D

    P.S. Not sure if this thread actually belongs here. Rather new.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2012 #2


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    I'm partial to Larson (for both Precalculus and Calculus). When I took Calculus in high school, we used Larson, and this fall, when I teach Calculus (in a high school) for the first time, I'll be using a recent edition of Larson, going full circle.

    Be careful that there are a ton of versions of his books that can be categorized as "Precalculus books." Here are some of the titles by Larson:
    * College Algebra
    * Trigonometry
    * Algebra and Trigonometry
    * Precalculus, a Concise Course
    * Precalculus
    * Precalculus with Limits
    (And there are more, versions that stress the graphing approach. Other authors have similar series of books.) If you want the "most complete" version by Larson, get "Precalculus with Limits".

    Similarly, Larson's (and other authors') Calculus books come in different configurations:
    * Calculus
    * Calculus: Early Transcendental Functions
    * Calculus of a Single Variable
    * Calculus of a Single Variable: Early Transcendental Functions
    * Multivariable Calculus
    Again, if you want the "most complete" version by Larson, get "Calculus" or "Calculus: Early Transcendental Functions". The main difference between these two is the ordering of topics.

    Also, if you want these cheap, don't get the latest editions. I'm sure you can find earlier editions for dirt cheap.
  4. Jun 30, 2012 #3
    I'm a big fan of books by Serge Lang. The guy has written an awesome amount of books on very introductory as advanced mathematics.

    Here are some nice books to consider:
    - Basic mathematics: This covers about everything that one should know before starting calculus. It is meant as a text for more mature readers, so expect no cartoons or dumbed-down examples.

    - A first course in calculus: This book is meant as a first encounter to calculus. Advanced and hard topics such as epsilon-delta definitions are only touched upon and are not essential. All in all, it's an easier book than Spivak or Apostol and it's a better text than Stewart (but that's not a very hard thing to accomplish).

    - Calculus - Spivak: After your first encounter to calculus, it might be time to see it more rigorously. This is an excellent and beautiful book. However, many people tend to struggle with it. The exercises are quite hard, do not expect to be able to solve all of them at this point (at least not without help). If you persist and fight through the book, then you will be rewarded with an entirely new point-of-view on mathematics.

    These are the three books I recommend to you. They are not the easiest books, but the easiest route isn't always the best one.
  5. Jun 30, 2012 #4
    micro, how come Stewart is so bad? Mathematical newbies such as myself can't distinguish quality texts from bad ones. The only standard I have is how intuitively the text can clearly teach me without confusing me at all.
  6. Jul 1, 2012 #5
    If you are planning to become a mathematician or are looking for a fun, insightful read by a master of the mathematical arts:

    Elements of Algebra by Leonhard Euler

    Foundations of Differential Calculus by Leonhard Euler

    Foundations of Integral Calculus by Leonhard Euler

    Introduction to the Analysis of the Infinite by Leonhard Euler

    If otherwise:

    Generic Boring Calculus Textbook by Stewart/Apostol/Larson/Kline/.......
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