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Need calculus textbook recommendation

  1. Jun 16, 2011 #1
    I am going to start with the dummies to calculus I, but I'd like a book that gives real life examples of calculus in use. Would that be really any math text book or does anyone have recommendations?
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  3. Jun 16, 2011 #2
    I would recommend Larson. There are a lot of word problems in it. I taught myself Calculus 1 from it.
  4. Jun 17, 2011 #3
    Do you have an ISBN, title, revision? word problems with pictures? I know this sounds very childish but i perfer word problems with a picture explaination.
  5. Jun 17, 2011 #4
    Doesn't have pictures for most word problems. But I pretty much taught myself calculus from it having a very shoddy (reflecting back on it) high school math education. If you want to learn practical calculus, it's a good book, but it isn't for a person interested in theory--it omits a few proofs.


    Maybe it's because they bored me and I didn't do the repetitive problems, but I forgot most of the vector calculus covered in the book.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  6. Jun 17, 2011 #5
    I'd suggest Spivak's Calculus, not because everyone says that, but because it is doing great wonders for me.
  7. Jun 17, 2011 #6


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  8. Jun 17, 2011 #7
    I am mistaken. I thought this was a cluster of information with names of math types within catagories. CK12.org link on that website lead my to a 8 chp calculus book including youtube videos within it. That's pretty damn cool. Though I am not seeing any practicle examples in this book, i'll have to dive further. Thanks guys :)
  9. Jun 17, 2011 #8
    Yeah I second BloodyFrozen's recommendation since analysis is obviously better than calculus.

    But seriously, if you want "real life" examples you should probably just stick to something like Stewart or Larson I guess. Also part of learning basic problem-solving skills in math is producing your own pictures for any given word problem.
  10. Jun 17, 2011 #9
    Be glad he didn't recommend Rudin.

    To the OP: The reason most modern calculus texts are over a thousand pages is because they are full of examples and problems, way more than any one person is likely to do. After basic drill problems, most of them are application problems that relate to the "real world." A cheap used edition of any of the mainstream texts, e.g. Stewart, Larson, Anton, Thomas, etc., will have all the examples you want. And as Dr. Crowell notes, there are excellent free resources on the web, including his own calculus book. You should also check out the free video lectures at MIT OCW and other sites.

    Spivak is more appropriate for gifted math majors (like in MIT's honors calculus class) who have a professor to help them along.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2011
  11. Jun 17, 2011 #10
    I will have to partly disagree with the poster above. While learning from Spivak's with a lecturer/professor would be an advantage, anyone with enough background can work through this book as long as they have the intuition and the prerequisites (I'm still young). Some texts might not be right for everyone. Since Spivak might be on the expensive side, I'd take a look at a few pages on Google Books.
  12. Jun 17, 2011 #11
    I would also not recommend spivak for you (and if you look at my previous posts you'll see I almost universally do). The reason I don't is that you want a book with real world examples, and this spivak is definately NOT. Spivak wrote an excellent book, but it is very abstract and will give you a thorough understanding of how and why calculus works, while providing almost no real world examples (the exception being the one chapter on planetary motion 2/3 of the way through the book).

    Also, while definately not impossible, it's probably not best for a first course unless you are dedicated and in general have an aptitude for math, because the problems can be very taxing (and half of the information of each chapter is saved for the problem sets, so you can figure out the important results for yourself). Supposedly (I have not read it) Courant's calculus books are at the same general level as Spivak, but have more applications to physics (which is where you will see lots of real world examples). Again though, being at the same level as spivak might not be such a good thing for your first course unless you're ready for a challenge. Between the two, however, Courant seems more of what you were looking for, so if you wanted a more advanced textbook that would probably be your best bet.

    I really don't like stewart so I personally wouldn't recommend that, and I haven't read any other single variable calc books all of the way through besides stewart and spivak, so I don't know of any book that would meet your requirements and be at an introductory level. However, a good course of action might be to learn calculus from a pure math book, and then work through a calculus based physics book, which will strengthen your applied calculus skills while simultaneously teaching you physics.

    EDIT: If you go with Spivak or Courant, make sure you are very confident in your trig and calculus abilities, as this knowledge will be pretty much assumed. Also, it might be beneficial (but not 100% necessary) to read a book like "how to prove it" or some of ther math logic book first if you don't have any experience with proofs (and I don't mean the proofs from high school geometry).
  13. Jun 17, 2011 #12
    Maybe we should all skip Spivak and just read Dieudonné? I am a big fan of Spivak but, as others have said, different books are good for different people.
  14. Jun 17, 2011 #13
    The OP said he is looking for a "Calculus for Dummies" type book, but with more examples. Why anyone would bring up Spivak in that context is beyond me.
  15. Jun 17, 2011 #14


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    Technical Calculus with Analytic Geometry, Judith Gersting, ISBN 048667343X. $13.57 at Amazon. Has practical type problems with drawings.
  16. Jun 18, 2011 #15


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    The classic (1910) "calc for dummies" book is Calculus Made Easy by Thompson. He says in the introduction, "What one fool can do, another can." It's in the public domain, and you can get it for free on the web.
  17. Jun 18, 2011 #16
    that's a classic, and for applications or real-world problems it's got to be either http://books.google.ca/books?id=YdjK_rD7BEkC"
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  18. Jun 18, 2011 #17
    The lack of orginization on the web makes me avoid it. The structure and orginization of a book is very exceptional. It teaches you without needing someone to guide you or explain things to you. Most of the math dummies books are good at breaking down problems, assisting you in solving the problem, but that is it.

    I want practicle exams to be able to apply my knowledge to something. Something I want to create either through physical or programming. When I drilled through colleges courses up to trigonometry, I only know how to do problems on paper and not nessarly apply these problems to anything real. One or two AP classes at the university were good at this, but I cannot afford university classes.

    Ironically the beginning chapters of triginometry i struggle with horribly, but after the intro, it comes easy. I feel it was because of careless mistakes.

    I wish everyone would forgive my English. Though English is my first language, the older I get, the more my mind seems to go. I am only 29 years of age, which is strange. Again, I really appriciate everyone that has perticipated in this thread.
  19. Jun 20, 2011 #18


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    i liked "lectures on freshman calculus", by cruse and granberg, and as i recall the first edition of edwards and penney had a lot of good examples.
  20. Jun 21, 2011 #19
    I've read a few Calculus text books, even "Calculus Made Easy" by Thompson. I did not like this book. It did not have very much rigor in it's exposition. When you remove the rigor, lots of things come easier... but I don't think that's as useful.

    I have read Stewart's book on Calculus and I think it does a fine job of introducing the material. It's a very introductory book, but I think it does the trick at explaining the basics. I've also read Thomas' book and while the level of detail may be slightly higher than Stewart's... something just rubbed me the wrong way when reading Thomas and I did not like the way things were explained very much.

    Spivak's Calculus, which is more of an Analysis book (which I am reading now), is extremely rigorous and very well written. This is not a book to take on unless you understand mathematical proof already, as far as I can tell. In the first chapter he invokes concepts like induction. So, I am not sure how well this would fare for the average Calculus learner. Stewart's will certainly teach you the mechanics and maybe it is best to learn mechanics first and then delve deeper into the realms of analysis. This is how most schools do it anyway, I think. With Analysis first, you'd have to re-arrange some understanding in talking about the material. Or you could read "Discrete Structures" by Kenneth Rosen, which does not require Calc to know and will prepare you with Logic, Set Theory, and Proof techniques to take on Spivak.

    I've read some others, but I did not find them impressive or worth mentioning much.
  21. Jun 21, 2011 #20
    Did you mean "Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications" by Rosen? I couldn't find "Discrete Structures" by that author.
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