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Very easy to understand book on precalculus needed

  1. Apr 28, 2008 #1
    I'm wanting to study on my own some more advanced levels of mathematics beginning with precalculus topics and I would like to find the best book for learning these things. When it comes to learning mathematical concepts I seem to be somewhat dense and like things explained in a very easy to understand manner. Two concepts that really seem to evade my understanding are functions and complex numbers, so I would need a book that really explains those well. Any good suggestions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2008 #2


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    You are essentially asking for a recommendation for PreCalculus instructional textbooks. Good. They are easy to find. For understanding functions, any typical Intermediate Algebra textbook should be enough. Any good, reasonably modern "College Algebra..." book could be better. For Trigonometry, best is to use a book dedicated to Trigonometry. Look for used books (either or both College Algebra, Trigonometry) by Larson & Hostetler; Lial & Miller, others I can't remember. Colleges and universities sometimes conduct used book sales. Check with their libraries. Also, some public libraries hold booksales of used books.
  4. Apr 29, 2008 #3
    You mean I have to get a textbook? It seems like most textbooks are not written to be easy to read and tend to describe concepts on a more technical level. Aren't there some less technical books that explain those same concepts (like the For Dummies series)?
  5. Apr 29, 2008 #4


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    Yes, you have to get a textbook. Most textbooks are written to be reliable. Mathematical topics truely are very technical. If you are aiming for concepts of "PreCalculus", then you should have no trouble finding good, very helpful, reliable books. You could try examing some "Dummies" book if you find one, maybe by 'check out' from a local library and see if it helps you.

    When you study from a Mathematics book, you are not reading in the same way as if it were a novel of a story. You are trying to understand concepts and learn skills. This requires a much different kind of effort than for a fiction or nonfiction story. You might spend 5 hours to cover 3 pages of a Math book; while in 5 hours of a novel, you might cover maybe 50 to 60 pages.... or more. Often you must reread those same 3 pages of a Math book as much as 8 to 10 times. You also must try example problems and any guided practice problems to help you explore the Math concepts and develop your skills. Yes, the Mathematics is dense and technical. The books usually include some discussion about the topics presented... discussion and explanations. Those discussions are usually both reliable and efficient (again, I say this about good Precalculus, Intermediate Algebra, and Trigonometry books).
  6. Apr 29, 2008 #5


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    you have two threads about this same perticular topic!

    Also in this forum section, one is not to ask for books, we have a special sub-forum for that issue (Academic & Career Guidance --> Science Book Reviews )

    In this subsection of PF, however, you might be able to find internet-references on pre-calculus math. Or whatever you are looking for.

    Please keep the structure of PF clean
  7. Apr 30, 2008 #6
  8. Jul 1, 2008 #7
    Hmm, i just finished studying the whole of precalc one year ahead of everyone else in my school.

    I have 2 recommendations.

    Algebra and Trigonometry - Cythia Young.

    Algebra and Trigonometry - Sullivan, Sullivan.

    Precalculus - Sullivan, Sullivan.

    The precalc and algebra and trig book by sullivan are the same things, just that the precalc book includes a preview to calculus, one chapter at the back.

    Hope this helps.
  9. Jul 16, 2008 #8
    I'm just going to add my favorite calc book of all time. I know you're looking for pre-calc, but this is a great book. Calculus Made Easy by Sylvanus P Thompson. Good luck.
  10. Aug 22, 2008 #9
  11. Aug 22, 2008 #10
  12. Aug 23, 2008 #11
    Thompson expects you to know the pre-calculus material *including* complex numbers and functions. Martin Gardner's new introduction does define some basic mathematical concepts (like function) very well. I'd say buy it, read it (and do the examples!), and see how far you get.

    Then, when you get stuck, don't panic, but go back to "Pre-calculus demystified", and hope for demystification :-) Note, don't expect any single book "to work". If you get stuck get down to the library and look up "complex numbers", "functions", whatever in any likely looking (i.e., easy looking!) books. You can also use the "look ahead" feature on Amazon to check if the book explains the concepts in ways that you can understand. The following is a nice, easy to read, non-textbook:

  13. Aug 23, 2008 #12
    No but the demystified one is like easier than the one for dummies though dunno. The author made a good job when it comes to explaining the concepts in a way that everyone could understand. the cool thing is that the demystified brand has easy self teaching gudie of almsot every branch of math and physics.
  14. Aug 24, 2008 #13
    I'll go an get the demystified one. I have Thompson and have read it. I got hung up on the way he did the division. That was a method used in the 70s and I was taught the other way. Pretty stupid way to get fouled up.
    I always found that the best way to get a comfortable understanding of something was to get an explaination from different sources. Incidentally, if anyone has an interest in radio electronics, I would suggest they start with the book by Marcus & Marcus. Same rules apply.
  15. Sep 17, 2008 #14


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    How about Blitzer Precalculus? It's the one being used in our school (high school). It's a new book, and I haven't read it myself personally. I wonder if it's a good book?
  16. Oct 21, 2008 #15
    Yes, I've actually taught myself from the Blitzer textbook over a summer maybe two years ago (at about .75-1 chapter a week). The book is actually very easy to learn from - has lots of pictures and graphs, and is written in a simple manner. It's very cheap @ Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Blitzer-Preca...=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224586185&sr=8-1, and along with the student solutions manual, you'll be able to figure any of the problems out if you have trouble.

    When I hit college, I took the entry exam and had the option to go into Calculus, but I chose Trig instead as I'm majoring in Mathematics and would like to know as much material as possible. They also include a Primer Chapter, to help you freshen up your Pre-PreCalculus material.

    Overall, I passed the exam and had the option to go to Calculus...so I mean, I guess it worked! Highly recommended...
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