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What areas of math should you know before studying Calculus?

  1. Feb 4, 2007 #1
    I just joined, looks like a great forum here!

    After being out of school for 5 years, I'm looking to get back into college. It looks like pretty much everything is Calculus-based. What areas of mathematics should I study, and know cold, before getting into Calculus?

    Algebra? Geometry? Trigonometry?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2007 #2
    All the above. A lot of calculus is applying a theorem and then working the equation with algebra. It also helps to be familiar with trig, because the functions and properties are used and it is expected that you know them. Also, it doesn't hurt to know geometry, especially for the trig.
  4. Feb 4, 2007 #3


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    all professors agree on this : ALGEBRA!
  5. Feb 4, 2007 #4


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    "Quoted for truth"

    (Just in case someone thinks i'm implying the OP should learn Quantum Field Theory first :rofl: )
  6. Feb 5, 2007 #5


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    The minimum is Intermediate Algebra and Trigonometry.
  7. Feb 5, 2007 #6


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    Dearly Missed

    Trigonometry is NOT required, merely beneficial.

    What IS required is a proficiency in algebra so that you can focus on the IDEAS of calculus, rather than get daunted&distracted by necessary algebraic manipulations.
  8. Feb 5, 2007 #7
    Algebra, especially addition and multiplication etc of fractions & variables. How to expand and simplify, power rules,log rules. How to manipulate and graph results. Rearrangement of equations. All vital, plus SOH CAH TOA is handy for a basis for the trig rules you will learn in calculus. Trig identities are a significant part of the course usually so it's helpfull to know the basics.

    Most important I think is to not get to caught up early on on the whys and wherfores of the rules in calculus, once you can apply them fine, but just follow them untill you are fluent in there use and then you will start to see why they work anyway.

    Always tackle differentiation before integrals: this should be part of your course anyway but you really do need to understand dif before you do integrals, you'll see what I mean when you study it. Integrals are a bit more tricky and they take a bit more practice, there also about alot of knowledge you will have picked up in differentiation. Where as in differentitation you'll find there is almost always a solution at least at your level, in integration there isn't always, and you may have to use other means to integrate.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2007
  9. Feb 6, 2007 #8
    Excellent question!
    Algebra and Geometry =the most important base for successful study of Calculus.This is a very large area of math ,and be prepared to do a serious recap of many things you've learnt in a high school.
    To my unpleasant surprise ,I discovered that some PF members,got their fingers/minds into learning calculus and integrals while still having BIG gaps in high-school math stuff!This is very bad.You can't learn to run before you learn how to walk...Don't let that happen to you.
    Besides,if you happen to experince troubles (and probably you will), got stuck in preparations,and have math question that your books don't make 100% clear for you,feel free to ask people on PF.I'm sure they can help you.

    Good luck and best wishes,
  10. Feb 16, 2007 #9
    Just a quick question while this topic is going...

    I've got an old book of my mom's (from mid-late 70's) by "Thomas"/Addison-Wesley called "calculus and analytic geometry 1"

    Is this a good book to start calc with? Is it too outdated?

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