Calculus For Dummies 2nd Edition
Book Preface
The mere thought of having to take a required calculus course is enough to make legions of students break out in a cold sweat. Others who have no intention of ever studying the subject have this notion that calculus is impossibly difficult unless you happen to be a direct descendant of Einstein. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can master calculus. It’s not nearly as tough as its mystique would lead you to think. Much of calculus is really just very advanced algebra, geometry, and trig. It builds upon and is a logical extension of those subjects. If you can do algebra, geometry, and trig, you can do calculus.
But why should you bother — apart from being required to take a course? Why climb Mt. Everest? Why listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony? Why visit the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa? Why watch South Park? Like these endeavors, doing calculus can be its own reward. There are many who say that calculus is one of the crowning achievements in all of intellectual history. As such, it’s worth the effort. Read this jargon-free book, get a handle on calculus, and join the happy few who can proudly say, “Calculus? Oh, sure, I know calculus. It’s no big deal.”
About This Book
Calculus For Dummies, 2nd Edition is intended for three groups of readers: students taking their first calculus course, students who need to brush up on their calculus to prepare for other studies, and adults of all ages who’d like a good introduction to the subject.
If you’re enrolled in a calculus course and you find your textbook less than crystal clear, this is the book for you. It covers the most important topics in the first year of calculus: differentiation, integration, and infinite series.
If you’ve had elementary calculus, but it’s been a couple of years and you want to review the concepts to prepare for, say, some graduate program, Calculus For Dummies, 2nd Edition will give you a thorough, no-nonsense refresher course.
Non-student readers will find the book’s exposition clear and accessible. Calculus For Dummies, 2nd Edition takes calculus out of the ivory tower and brings it down to earth.
This is a user-friendly math book. Whenever possible, I explain the calculus concepts by showing you connections between the calculus ideas and easier ideas from algebra and geometry. I then show you how the calculus concepts work in concrete examples. Only later do I give you the fancy calculus formulas. All explanations are in plain English, not math-speak.
The following conventions keep the text consistent and oh-so-easy to follow:
✓ Variables are in italics.
✓ Calculus terms are italicized and defined when they first appear in the text.
✓ In the step-by-step problem-solving methods, the general action you need to take is in bold, followed by the specifics of the particular problem.
It can be a great aid to true understanding of calculus — or any math topic for that matter — to focus on the why in addition to the how-to. With this in mind, I’ve put a lot of effort into explaining the underlying logic of many of the ideas in this book. If you want to give your study of calculus a solid foundation, you should read these explanations. But if you’re really in a hurry, you can cut to the chase and read only the important introductory stuff, the example problems, the step-by-step solutions, and all the rules and definitions next to the icons. You can then read the remaining exposition only if you feel the need.
I find the sidebars interesting and entertaining. (What do you expect? I wrote them!) But you can skip them without missing any essential calculus. No, you won’t be tested on this stuff.
Minor note: Within this book, you may note that some web addresses break across two lines of text. If you’re reading this book in print and want to visit one of these web pages, simply key in the web address exactly as it’s noted in the text, as though the line break doesn’t exist. If you’re reading this as an e-book, you’ve got it easy — just click the web address to be taken directly to the web page.
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