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Learning Calculus on one's own.

  1. Jul 29, 2008 #1
    My high school unfortunately does not offer AP Calculus and I really wanted to learn it to better understand its application in Physics. I was wondering if anyone could recommend a tutorial or way of learning Calculus effectively on my own if it's possible.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2008 #2
    Try "Calculus" by Tom Apostol. You can get it very cheap from one of the many online used bookstores.
  4. Jul 29, 2008 #3
    This thread might belong to the learning materials forum - my bad.
  5. Jul 30, 2008 #4
    Just dive right in. There are numerous college texts by various authors that are put together nicely for self-study with plenty of examples and answers in the back of the textbook. You can get older editions for cheap as uman already stated. There are a lot of useful online sites as well. If you do get stuck on a particular problem, post your questions in the homework section in this forum and you'll likely get assistance.
  6. Jul 30, 2008 #5
    It depends. Do you want to 'do' calculus or understand calculus? The second option takes much longer to arrive at useful results (that is, you can actually use it in real problems).

    Stewart's 'recipe' books are good if you want to do calculus. The older editions are just as good as the new ones, and plenty cheaper too.
    If you want to understand calculus, something like Apostol's book is very good, but there are many other good calc books too, like Spivak, Kaplan, Widder, Courant etc.
  7. Jul 30, 2008 #6
    The Apostol books cost me 12$ first hand. The Indian Wiley edition is only 6$ per book. Good quality too!
  8. Aug 14, 2008 #7
    Try buying the calculus text books at the used book store. I got mine for $8.00. It is a $150.00 value. You can learn alot from the text books. You can also go to the libraries. If you are desperate and cannot find a text book, go to a college and buy it from there. Of course, you would have to pay full value price of at least $100 but it is worth it if you plan on taking a college course.
  9. Aug 14, 2008 #8
    Just borrow a textbook from the local library. Chances are you can have a copy reserved or on hold and can renew it for extended periods.

    And you don't need a specific calculus textbook, especially for application purposes. Don't be afraid to check something out like a Barron's calculus book. You don't need to start out with a 1000 page calculus text that tells you all the little details.

    You can learn the material from a lot of texts. How much you learn really depends on how much effort you put into solving the problems.
  10. Aug 15, 2008 #9
    I recommend you pay close attention to the fundamental concepts (e.g. derivative as a slope, integral as a sum, fundamental theorem of calculus, etc.) and try to pace yourself so that you understand each concept before moving to the next. An intuitive understanding is more important than being good at calculations. Also, algebra and trig are essential to calculus, so be sure you have a good understanding of these beforehand so that you can focus on the calculus alone.
  11. Aug 15, 2008 #10
    Calculus and Analytical Geometry by GBThomas is very good starting from fundamentals to Vector Calculus level
  12. Aug 16, 2008 #11
    My recommendation for an excellent and readable introduction to the subject:
    A Tour of the Calculus by David Berlinski.
  13. Aug 16, 2008 #12
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  14. Aug 16, 2008 #13
    Ignore this advice; it's completely wrong.

    It is always better to learn math with an instructor or at least a companion to bounce ideas off of and exchange thoughts. Find some other students (on- or off-line) who also want to learn. And definitely find a teacher or mentor to help guide you and answer questions. It's highly likely that one of your math teachers would not mind shepherding you through calculus.
  15. Aug 16, 2008 #14
    What ever be the way of learning; following the historic way - from pre calculus, at each stage what was the necessary in geometry/physics of its origination.
  16. Aug 16, 2008 #15


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    fortunately there is No need at all to learn calculus in high school. in fact there are few qualified calculus teachers in any high school. the proper place to learn calculus is in college where the instructors actually understand calculus.

    much more important is to make sure you know geometry and algebra. then you can appreciate calculus when you see it.

    if you want to study beginning calculus and already know algebra and geometry and some trig well, try calculus made easy by silvanus p thompson, or lectures in freshman calculus by cruse and granberg, or if you are a genius try apostol or spivak or courant. but those are better left for an honors calc course.

    now if you are very strong and plan to go to harvard or columbia you may need to learn some calculus first. the version in almost any calc book will suffice, but when you get to college try to go to one that offers a beginning honors calc course like chicago, or georgia.

    harvard assumes all entering honors students know calculus and to my mind that means they abdicate responsibility to do a good job of teaching it.
  17. Aug 28, 2008 #16


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  18. Aug 28, 2008 #17
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