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Calculus "Mathematics" book for revising/studying

  1. Dec 17, 2017 #1

    I've taken calculus during my engineering degree (that I'm still attending) two years ago. At that time I didn't realize the importance of calculus (and also linear algebra) so I studied it superficially. I think I'm quite good though because I had to use my calculus knowledge in all the other courses, but but I was sticking to the essential minimum of knowledge. Recently I got very interested in physics so I started studying more and this implied revising my calculus skills. I think I improved a lot in calculus/algebra in the last months but I still find it terribly boring (my fault I know). I was wondering if some of you have any suggestion for a book that will help me revise and maybe go further that is kind of "fun" (with examples and applications) so that I can read it/study in the free time. "Calculus for the practical man" is very much what I was looking for but it is a bit under my level of skill. I read I few pages and I don't think I'm going to get much out it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2017 #2

    Wrichik Basu

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    I was recommended Apostol's Calculus here. Later, I heard several seniors and professors disapprove of it as overrated, which is why I didn't go through it, though I have both the volumes.

    Another book is by Spivak, but I couldn't buy it because of high cost.
  4. Dec 17, 2017 #3
    Thank you! Did a quick research and I probably prefer the one by Spivak.
    ... And that's the problem... :sorry:

    I think I'm going to stick around a little longer :confused:
  5. Dec 17, 2017 #4

    Wrichik Basu

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    You should. There are others who can recommend less costly books.

    Actually, the books that I follow are not sold online, and are only found in Kolkata, many of which are not printed any more. Hence I cannot recommend those books as you'll not find them anywhere on the net.
  6. Dec 17, 2017 #5
    Overrated is a bad criticism, did they put any actual criticism of the book ?
  7. Dec 17, 2017 #6
    Are you sure you want Spivak ? It has zero practical applications, it is a hardcore maths book. It probably is not helpful if you need calculus for physics.

    I would say you should go for 2 books by Courant, they contain a lot of examples of practical applications of calculus in physics. It also has a chapter on calculus of variation.

    If that is not enough for you then you can opt for any mathematical methods book like one by Mary Boas.
  8. Dec 17, 2017 #7

    Wrichik Basu

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    I had seen it being brought up in several threads here, so I was curious and wanted to go through the book, and mentioned it to the OP. Since you're saying, I'll give up my wish to buy it.
  9. Dec 17, 2017 #8
    Why ? Did I say anything wrong ?
  10. Dec 17, 2017 #9

    Wrichik Basu

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    Why are you thinking so? :olduhh:

    You said that the book is not good for application in Physics, and I was trying to buy it for that sole purpose, which is why I gave up my intentions.

    On the other hand, thanks for the advice :smile:
  11. Dec 17, 2017 #10
    I wasn't too happy about Spivak, but it is the one I would choose between those two I was recommended by @WrichikBasu. I didn't know whether it had or not practical applications, but I read few pages on pdf and I enjoyed it more than Apostol's Calculus.

    So in the end, thank you @Buffu for the new suggestions. I will check them out for sure! :)
  12. Dec 17, 2017 #11
    Tell me if you like them or not. I know some more books of this nature.
  13. Dec 18, 2017 #12
    @Buffu I've downloaded the pdf of Courant vol 1. Judging from the table of contents it looks very interesting (lots of examples)... By the way, while browsing the web I came across this book "Advanced Calculus" by Wood. What do you think about it? I've downloaded that too: less examples (basically zero till the end of the book), but it covers more stuff and the final chapter is called "classical mechanics"... Maybe all the applications are collected there.
  14. Dec 18, 2017 #13
    That is Richard Feynman's favorite calculus book. Feynman credits that book for making him integration wizard. While it doesn't cover more advanced topics like multivariable calculus, it covers important tricks like "differentiation under integral sign". You should definitely take a look at it but I won't recommend it as a main book.
  15. Dec 18, 2017 #14
    There is also The hitchhiker's guide to calculus which is "baby version" of Michael Spivak's Calculus.
  16. Dec 19, 2017 #15
    if you find the calculus book too difficult; there is another option. Calculus by Edwin E. Moise. It is between general mass market calculus books of today and Apostol/Spivak. It is closer to Apostol/Spivak. The book explains the Completeness Axiom, Well Ordering Principle, gives a correct proof of Arc Length, shows the power of the Mean Value Theorem and how it connects with almost all the important results of calculus, and quit some more. It is very readable and entertaining read. Can be used as an Intro to Proof book.

    If you read Moise, then you could be ready to tackle Rudin, or you know how to apply Calculus to physics problems.
  17. Dec 19, 2017 #16
    Thank you for all these books' suggestions! It will be really tough to pick one!

    why wouldn't you recommend it as a main book? Just curious.
  18. Dec 19, 2017 #17
    @MidgetDwarf Do you know where to find a preview or the table of contents of the book by Moise? All the review are very very good but it seems to be quite hard to find
  19. Dec 19, 2017 #18
    I can take a picture and upload it for you. It covers all of the standard topics plus some.
  20. Dec 19, 2017 #19
    The place to find the book. Would be on Amazon.
  21. Dec 20, 2017 #20
    It is really old and like many old books it is difficult to read because topography is bad. Also it doesn't cover multivariable calculus.
  22. Dec 23, 2017 #21


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    If you are fascinated by physics and find calculus/algebra boring, the problem might be that you haven't yet seen the right kind of textbook for you. I got hooked to math by the marvelous textbooks "Lectures on Theoretical Physics" by Arnold Sommerfeld, which in my opinion are the best textbooks about classical physics ever written (ok, I hate the ##\mathrm{i} c t## convention he uses in special relativity, but the books were written in the late 1940ies and early 1950ies, what can you do). So, to appreciate masterful use of mathematical methods in theoretical physics, the best I can recommend is vol. 6 on PDEs in this book series.
  23. Dec 23, 2017 #22
    thank you for the suggestion. I will check that too. My problem is that I want to be sure of what I buy. Usually I go to the library of my university to find a copy of the book I want, but these last suggestions (including yours) doesn't seem to be there. So I'm not completely sure because I don't like to buy a book I know nothing of.
  24. Dec 27, 2017 #23
    I found myself a copy of this, and just started going through it from page 1. He talks about "open sentence" -- A mathematical statement that can be either true or false depending what values are used.

    For example: x + 4 = 7

    Unless we know "x," we don't know if "x + 4 = 7" is true or false. So it is "open."

    I have never heard "open sentence" before. Is this common terminology? The book is copyrighted 1966; maybe this was trendy at the time?
  25. Dec 27, 2017 #24
    I would say it is a common terminology(https://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/open-sentence.html) but I don't think it matters much in learning calculus.
  26. Dec 27, 2017 #25


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    you sound rather inexperienced in calculus, and my guess is that both apostol and spivak (and possibly courant) will be too hard for you. i recommend you go back to the university library, read and find a book you like and then go to abebooks.com to find a used copy.
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