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Self-Taught Calculus

  1. Jul 7, 2012 #1
    Hello, so to start off I'm in the IB program and taking physics HL (high level physics, love it, pretty much like AP) with math studies (basic math and pre-calculus, very easy class for me) and I really enjoy math. So, I've decided to teach myself calculus over the summer. Math studies doesn't offer an in depth calculus course and they only go into the very basics. The rest of the course is based off pre-calculus which I have a book for (Pre-Calculus For Dummies) and plan on getting ahead of the entire math class and possibly try to enter a high(er) level math class. So, finally to my question, are there any books out there that are for the one that really wants to understand and master calculus? The books I have are, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Calculus" by W. Michael Kelley and "The Calculus Lifesaver" by Adrian Banner. Which one of these are the best for me and are there better ones out there? Also, is "Pre-Calculus For Dummies" a good book as well it seems like it does a good job of explaining things in text and illustration. If there is any other information needed I'll gladly provide it. Thanks for the help!
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2012 #2
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2012
  4. Jul 8, 2012 #3
    Why aren't you doing Mathematics SL? I can't imagine it being very hard (I was in HL for a while, then switched to A-Levels), especially for someone who intends on going into physics. Studies SL is fluffy. Too fluffy. Oh, now I get it. You want an easy 7?
  5. Jul 8, 2012 #4
    If you want an actual math book, try "a first course in calculus" by Serge Lang. Don't expect the book to be easy in any way, but you'll learn a lot from it.
  6. Jul 8, 2012 #5
  7. Jul 8, 2012 #6
    Strang is a horrible book, in my opinion.
    Spivak is excellent but very hard. It meant more as an intro to real analysis or a second course in calculus. It's an awesome read, but you are likely not ready for it.
  8. Jul 8, 2012 #7
    So, I've read the preview of Spivak's Calculus and it so far it's really amazing. And it really goes in depth and provides plenty of practice problems and makes you know what you're being told other than just spoon feeding it to you. I may end up buying it so I can achieve deeper knowledge of something or I might just self-study straight from it. Are the various editions significantly different?
  9. Jul 8, 2012 #8
    Oh, it's good that you like it. But do beware: some of the exercises are agonizingly difficult. So don't feel bad if you can't solve most of it at this point. But in a way, it's a good complement to a Schaum's outline which is pretty light in theory.

    The editions of the book aren't very different, I think. It's perfectly good to buy a cheaper and older edition.
  10. Jul 8, 2012 #9
    Thanks a lot for your help, micromass
  11. Jul 8, 2012 #10
    Stewarts book.
  12. Jul 10, 2012 #11

    I spent 11 years in the Navy and had a 12 year break in math. I had to reteach myself College Algebra and PreCalc. For PreCalc I found out what book they were using at the college I wanted to go to and ordered it from Amazon. If I had questions about it the internet has so many resources to answers those questions. WolframsAlpha is a great tool, also YouTube. Just some food for thought!
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