Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Self taught calculus?

  1. Sep 3, 2004 #1
    hola. this year in high school i was enrolled in AP calculus. the year before we had an awesome teacher who was incredibly smart. this year, however, he left and we got a new teacher. it is her first year teaching this. consequently, shes not teaching well and id say 75% of the class dropped it (nearly all the rest are contemplating doing the same), including me. so, ive decided, at least considered, to go to the library and get a calculus book and have a little independent study. are there any particularly good books for this? at the library they had one called quick (fast?) calculus that i was looking at. so, im just wondering if there are any books that would help me accomplish this. mmk. thanks
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 3, 2004 #2
    Just stay far away from "The complete idiot's guide to calculus" (by Michael Kelley).
  4. Sep 3, 2004 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I've never read Michael Kelley's "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Calculus", but his "Master the AP Caluculus AB and BC Tests" is very good.
  5. Sep 3, 2004 #4
    'Calculus Made Easy' by Silvanus P. Thompson. It's been around for ages, and it's always recommended, but with good reason. Richard Feynmann learnt from, I learnt from it, you should do the same. (If you want :wink: )
  6. Sep 3, 2004 #5
    I thought Feynman first learned calculus from "Calculus For The Practical Man" ? Thats what he said in the video interview "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out".

    Where did you hear he learned it from "Calculus Made Easy"? I don't doubt you and it would be neat to know he used that book still available ;)
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2004
  7. Sep 4, 2004 #6
    A word of caution

    saying you are going to teach ur self calculus is much easyier said than done
    i said i was going to do it this summer
    but i ran out of time

    and now I must take the class.
  8. Sep 4, 2004 #7
    "Quick Calculus" is a good little book, and is easy to find on eBay, bibliofind.com, and abebooks.com
  9. Sep 4, 2004 #8
    Calculus by Tarasov(MIR publishers translated from russian) is superb ,it is in a student teacher conversation format and is comprehensible. :bugeye: :smile:
    I dont how to get it though :frown: .
    I found it our city public library
  10. Sep 5, 2004 #9
    singleton: It seems that 'Calculus for The Practical Man' was the name of Feynmann's calculus scrapbook, and that he learnt the essentials from 'Calculus Made Easy'.
  11. Sep 5, 2004 #10
    I was wondering the same

    I am looking into becoming an actuary since the IT field is dying. I am wanting to learn Calculus by myself, and then go to college and take the classes. See I work fulltime(10+hours per day) and do not want to have to study for many hours a day. I've heard How to Ace Calculus was a good book from many Calculus websites. https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0716731606/qid=1094443284/sr=ka-1/ref=pd_ka_1/104-7234958-0775969

    I would have to take three Calc courses then ace the first Actuary exam. I have already taken Probability and Stats in college, but have since forgottten everything except for Algebra.
  12. Sep 6, 2004 #11
    I agree. I really liked this book.

    I also recommend "How to Ace Calculus: The Streetwise Guide" as a suppliment. It does a pretty good job of smoothing out the whole learning experience, plus it's pretty darn funny.
  13. Sep 6, 2004 #12
    RE: Feynman

    According to Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, Feynman said that he had studied a bit from Calculus for the Practical Man, and when he started to goof off in his highschool physics class, his teacher gave him Advanced Calculus by Woods.

    It's on page 86 in case you have it.
  14. Sep 7, 2004 #13

    How to Ace Calculus is hella funny. I highly recommend Barron's Calculus the Easy Way. The math is taught and told in the form of a fairy tale. I was able to do Calculus problems two years before I actually took the class.
  15. Sep 7, 2004 #14
    I think "The complete idiot's guide to calculus" is exactly what you need.
    You can go to Kelly's website www.calculus-help.com and become familiar with the way Micheal Kelly, teaches calculus.
  16. Sep 7, 2004 #15
    Did you just call him an idiot?

    (I kid, I kid ;)).
  17. Sep 7, 2004 #16
    An idiot even can't spell " calculus ".
    That's just a trade mark.

    :tongue2: :yuck: :biggrin:
  18. Sep 7, 2004 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    If you are not an idiot , I recommend using a better book, like the classic honors texts by Spivak, or Courant, or Apostol, or easier: Lectures on freshman calculus, by cruse and granberg.

    Or even the all time classic engineeringn text: George B. Thomas ("alternate edition") or the 9th edition by Thomas and Finney.

    Or just use the text your teacher is using and just read it. Tehn you can impress her by asking questiuons. many poor teachers are much better one on one at answering questions.

    Look at us!

    I liked Silvanus P Thompson as a freshman too, but mostly for the jokes. You will not learn anything there except how to do problems like a monkey. I.e. you will not learn why anything is true, since he skips that part.
  19. Sep 12, 2004 #18
    i don't think it should be too hard (most people who take the class probably think the same initially). i figure i can ask her or my physics teacher if i get stuck (i did drop the class so now i have a study hall in place that i can self teach it in).
    whos feynman? ill see if any library has the calculus made easy. do the books meant for the AP test actually teach caculus or just brush up skills? is calculus made easy so good that i should buy it if the library doesn't have it?

    thanks for the recommendations. ill try to check them out.
  20. Sep 12, 2004 #19
  21. Sep 12, 2004 #20
    Has anyone here read "Calculus For Cats" By Ken Amdahl and Jim Loats.
    I read a book by Ken Amdahl called "There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings". It was pretty good, very basic and everything was dumbed down, but that is not such a bad thing if someone is just starting out on a new subject. Anyways, I know absolutely nothing about Calculus, and I take my first calculus class summer '05, I was thinking about reading this book before I take the class.
  22. Mar 13, 2007 #21
    I would have to respectfully disagree, but then again, I am the author. Even though my book is not specifically written for a "scientific" audience (there are plenty of those already), it is still rather rigorous. If you're looking for more rigor, I just released "The Humongous Book of Calculus Problems."

    The kind of book you need depends on your learning style. If you learn better by doing problems, then hit the Humongous Book. If you learn better when things are explained and put into layman's terms, then hit the Idiot's Guide.

    There are people on this forum who like to disparage titles because of the series name. This is short-sighted. Many of these are the same people who would say "Don't judge me by my appearance, I'm really nice on the inside." However, they are apt to making "clever" and sweeping judgments under the blanket of anonymity online.

    I am very proud of the Idiot's Guide. I worked long and hard on it. I went to many major publishers suggesting a calculus book like it, and none thought there would be an audience. They told me math people would disparage it without even looking at it, and that anything less than 100% rigor would earn scorn from group of people that love scornbread (my term). The Idiot's Guide people said, "What the hey," and gave me a chance. Apparently there is a market.

    While it doesn't cover each topic using proofs, and is most certainly not as rigorous as a textbook, it's a good companion to use along side a more rigorous text. Of course, if you're into scientific texts, as one poster above suggested reading the textbook, then the Idiot's Guide is not for you. The vast majority of students can't learn calculus from a textbook. Just because it's not for you doesn't mean it has no value.
  23. Mar 13, 2007 #22
    In other news, good grief this original thread is old. My spirited reply certainly is strange over two years later, but then again, these are the rewards you garner when you Google yourself.
  24. Mar 13, 2007 #23


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You had 2-3 people say your work is good in this thread, and you worry about the one that disagrees. :rolleyes:

    I self-taught myself by a series of similiar books, but specially made by the Ontario government because after I was done reading I wrote an exam to get a credit. Anyways, it was taught is a very layman way, which I found entertaining. I think you need a mix of entertainment and rigour when first learning mathematics.

    In the end, I went off to university better prepared than high school students who were taught by teachers and through real textbooks. The sad state of high schools.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2007
  25. Mar 13, 2007 #24
    I recommend Calculus by Michael Spivak. Although, the book does not begin the heart of Calculus until page 135, it is a great book. You can skip the extra content that you possess no need for. You may wish to purchase a book of Calculus problems. Almost any problem book shall function, though do not purchase Dummies Calculus Workbook.
  26. Mar 13, 2007 #25


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I recommend from my own experience that you learn the basics very very good, and then try for yourself. That is much easier.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook