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Self-Taught Calculus

  1. Aug 26, 2005 #1
    I'm am 16 year old guy from canada, and i am interested im calculus and physics... anyone knows any really good (speak of experience, if possible) resources on learning calculus? and physics, for that matter?

    Thanks a lot!

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2005 #2
    Hmm...what HS education in math/physics have you had thus far?
    Doesn't your high school offer it??

    Anyway, for calculus, try:

    James, Stewart. Calculus. 4th ed. Brooks/Cole Company, 1999
    (although I believe 5th edition is the latest)
  4. Aug 27, 2005 #3
    in canada go to your local university buy used copies. Stewarts seems to be the standard in canada.
    and serways is godo for physics.
  5. Aug 27, 2005 #4
    I don't consider the course i'm taking to be physics. It's really too simple... and the teacher says it's going to stay that way (that easy) through the whole year... and for math, i alerady know the concept of a limit, and that of a derivative, though i never understood (yet) the goal of an integral. So... math 536 is going to be really easy, as will physics 586 be.

    and when is pre-calculus and algebra 1 & 2 in canada?
  6. Aug 27, 2005 #5
    i taught myself calculus using "the complete idiot's guide to calculus."

    that in addition to james stewart's book would be an unstoppable combination!

    the "how to ace calculus" is good, too. i used "how to ace the rest of calculus" for learning calc 2 and 3 stuff.
  7. Aug 27, 2005 #6
    well I'm 17 and started to learn it when I was 16 :) I'm a self-taught too. If you work hard why not man? everything is possible.
  8. Aug 27, 2005 #7
    Me too :smile: . I just turned 17 on 8/16/05, and having self-studied Calc 1 & 2, I'm taking CalcIII this fall (in a local college) during my senior year @ HS (Fall 2005 to Spring 2006). Also, I'm self-studying several other subjects too, especially in time for AP tests in May 2006.
  9. Aug 28, 2005 #8
    I also taught myself calculus at 16, and it isn't too hard if you can get a decent book, or even just a sheet with the basic rules and some definitions. There are a few things, however, that are easy to learn incorrectly. Make sure you properly understand the chain rule, and can derive things like y=sin(cos(3x^2 +2x+7)) correctly. The next hard part is understanding when to use which method of integration. If you take your time with those two things, you'll be fine.

    To answer your question, integration is the opposite of taking the derivative. It's technically adding up all of your little rates that you find with the derivative to get back to your original equation, but always remember that you have to add a little +C because you could have lost a constant when you differentiated.

    It's really good that you're learning this by yourself now. The skill to teach yourself will serve you well when you have a Multivariable Calculus teacher that takes an hour to determine whether or not two lines are really skewed.
  10. Aug 28, 2005 #9
    Just a quick note about studying for AP tests: you can learn a lot from review books, but all AP tests that I've ever taken have always skipped out on some interesting and complex concepts. Make sure you learn everything you can, not just what's going to be tested.

    Happy Belated Birthday, by the way.
  11. Aug 28, 2005 #10
    Work hard and find the resources, with help if needed. I started calculus at college but my interests led me to study more advanced calculus, which my teacher would not teach us. I was 16 (as most you have said). I also had an interest in chemistry at GCSE level (I was 15) and I learn most of my AS Level syllabue, without meaning too, out of interest.

    My teachers did help me find websites for the chemistry but maths is all over the place. Find a book that makes sense to you and, normally, maths world is a good place to start for getting to know what you need to know.

    The Bob (2004 ©)
  12. Aug 28, 2005 #11
    I remember when I wanted to get a leg up on Calculus. I went through tons of books and they were pretty much all terrible (for beginners at least). Quite honestly, the best Calculus book I have seen by far for beginners is "Calculus for Dummies." It makes the entire subject seem accessible and easy and it is the ONLY book for Calculus I have seen that even comes close to doing that (the others succeeded only in frustrating me to various degrees).

    More importantly, the author doesn't just tell you what, he tells you *why*. So the foundation you walk away with from that book is solid, rock solid. When I went on and took a formal Calculus course after reading that book I was the top student in my class and didn't struggle with the subject at all (in contrast to my classmates). For that reason, I strongly recommend the book. In fact, it is probably the best experience with a math book I think I have ever had.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2005
  13. Aug 28, 2005 #12
    umm calculus is more than just derivatives...and if your excelling at that stuff already....you better prep for the entrance math exam to skip first year calc if you guys are applying in canada.

    more math stuff learned in first year univ- integrals, double integrals, triple integrals,
    curves & surfaces, series, lagrange multipliers vector fields. etc...go pick up stewarts.
  14. Aug 30, 2005 #13
    I agree with everyone else about the stewart book. I started teaching myself calculus and phyiscs when I was 16. I ended up scoring 5's on my ap test which told me that my calculus book (stewart, 5th ed) and my physics book (tipler, 5th ed) were good books.

    Calculus resources are very easy to find. Just go to www.calculus.org and you will find lots of links. Or go to a search engine and type in calculus help.

    Its harder to find a good physics resource that will tell you what you need.

    What you really should do is tell your teachers that you are teaching yourself calculus and physics and if they are anything like my teachers they will help you a lot. They always have extra textbooks that they will give you and they are a great source of advice. When I told my calculus teacher I had already taught myself calculus she practically made me an assistant teacher. She also got her husband (who is a college professor in mathematics) to come to my high school every week to do things such as giving me test on the material that I learned. When I got to college I found out that the test he gave me counted as placement exams and I tested out of every calc class plus differential equations.
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