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James Stewart's Essential Calculus: Early Transcendentals

  1. Jan 22, 2010 #1
    Is the textbook "James Stewart's Essential Calculus: Early Transcendentals" adequate and sufficient in its material and depth of each subject? I bought this book on impulse and I'm now worrying that it may leave out important subjects or not cover the material thoroughly enough.

    Has anybody read through this text? If I were to read through this text from start to finish and do nearly every problem, will I be missing any valuable information by not purchasing the original Stewart fifth edition early transcendentals textbook?

    In other words, am I going to be lost on certain topics when I take vector/multivariable calculus? In the preface, the author mentions this being 2/3rds of the original text while "covering almost all of the same topics." This word almost worries me and he does not specify what he left out.

    What should I do? Buy a different three semester calculus text? If so, which text would be best (calc I, II, and III)?
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  3. Jan 22, 2010 #2
    It looks like it covers all the essential topics of a calculus course. Just from eyeballing, he left out the chapter on differential equations which is fine, you don't need that and it didn't cover the topic very well either. It also looks like it doesn't have the chapter on miscellaneous applications of integration like finding the arc length, surfaces of revolution, moment of inertia, and probability. I think that's fine, typically most courses will only go over one of those topics. Mine did surfaces of revolution, some classes cover arc length.

    I think you're fine. If you're that worried then see if you can return it for full price and get his Early Transcendentals book. Otherwise, no sweat.
  4. Jan 22, 2010 #3


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  5. Jan 23, 2010 #4
    I read James Stewart's Essential Calculus: Early Transcendentals .. it's very nice book and its language is simple and intelligent .. this book covers most (95%) of what you need as an undergraduate student .. For depth discussions and series of proofs .. advanced calculus is built for this purpose .. i think it's the first step in learning Calculus with simple and common applications
  6. Jan 27, 2010 #5
    Great, thank you for the answers guys
  7. Feb 17, 2010 #6
    For what its worth, I learned calculus from this book. I still use it a lot to work through some of the more challenging problems as exercises. I think its a great book, especially for undergrads.
  8. Feb 19, 2010 #7
    You would be better off not buying or going through a textbook (Stewart's) whose end purpose was to build the author a $24 million house. What dedication to education is that? The text is only good for building computational skills. The only ones who ever like it are the engineers because of their avoidance of learning concepts as if they're the plague.

    Other calculus texts are Calculus: An Intuitive and Physical Approach by Kline, Calculus by Spivak, Calculus by Apostol, and Differential and Integral Calculus by Courant (the revised edition Introduction to Calculus and Analysis by Courant/John is cheaper).

    Kline is the least rigorous of those three and has a solutions manual available for free from the publisher, so it's good for self-study. Spivak is in my opinion the best single-variable calculus text out there. Apostol and Courant are in a very close second, with Apostol more dry and technical and Courant more intuitive and conversational.

    If you go through any of the above four books, then you will know calculus without a doubt. There will be gaps if you go through Stewart.

    There's also The Calculus Lifesaver by Banner, which is a very popular companion book. Although, it could probably be used stand-alone as well.
  9. Feb 20, 2010 #8
    I have the Banner book and it is an excellent companion. The free video lectures that go with it are also very good. However, the book does not have any excercises, so I would recommend a good textbook alongside...
  10. Feb 20, 2010 #9
    I'm going to respectfully disagree with you. In my opinion, the Stewart book builds theory pretty well. I've had three Professors that used the book and they all expanded on the information in the text very nicely.

    All I'm saying is that I've had more than a pleasurable experience learning Calculus and I think that's owed to a combination of factors (good Profs., my interest in the subject and a good text).

    I haven't used any other book as much as Stewart's but, I will say that I plan on getting a cheap copy of Kline's book to get an idea of a different approach.
  11. Feb 20, 2010 #10
    While I count Spivak's book as one of the reasons I decided to major in math and have recommended it over and over, I still think the 1000-page calculus books have their place. I know that in my current mechanics class when I ran into line integrals, surface integrals, and vector calculus that I was a little fuzzy on, the first place I went was my big calculus book that I used for calculus I, II, and III.
  12. Feb 20, 2010 #11


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    If your idea of theory is omitting the proofs of key results like the IVT or Extreme Value Theorem, then yes, Stewart builds theory pretty well. In the version of the book that I've read through, he delegates the formalization of the limit concept to an appendix and doesn't even mention least upper bounds. His book can hardly be considered rigorous.
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