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Calculus textbook recommendation?

3 Post author: Tesseract 29 May 2011 06:20AM

I'm seeking suggestions for a calculus textbook that I could use to teach myself the subject.


[Personal details removed.] I know that most calculus textbooks are designed to be taught to classes, so I was wondering if anyone knew of a textbook specifically designed for autodidacts, or one that would be particularly useful for the purpose. (If you just know of a good general textbook, I'd be grateful to hear that as well.)

Thanks to anyone who gives a suggestion.

EDIT: Chose a Marvin-Gardner-edited version of Calculus Made Easy, accompanied by Khan Academy lessons.

Comments (9)

Comment author: Vaniver 29 May 2011 06:27:51AM *  5 points [-]

I checked out our best textbooks post and didn't find much. sriku suggests A Course in Mathematics for Students of Physics but I don't know if that's appropriate for you. You might want to try out Khan Academy; it's not a textbook, but it should have all the info you need.

Comment author: knb 29 May 2011 11:12:27AM 2 points [-]

I'll second Khan academy. They only have practice exercises for differential calculus, but there are videos for pretty much everything. It's possible to learn very quickly with the practice exercises.

Comment author: XiXiDu 30 May 2011 04:04:07PM *  1 point [-]

Yes, Khan Academy got everything you need. Also see Just Math Tutotrials and A Gentle Introduction To Learning Calculus. And here are lots of free Calculus books.

Comment author: Kutta 29 May 2011 07:30:28AM *  2 points [-]

Could someone give me an opinion on Spivak's Calculus? I picked this book for voluntary study because of the uniformly positive reviews but haven't started plunging into it yet.

Comment author: [deleted] 29 May 2011 01:45:42PM 4 points [-]

Spivak is good and well-loved and even has a sense of humor.

Note that there are two ways to learn calculus: the high-school way, without proofs (Stewart is a good example) and the college-level way, with epsilon-delta proofs (Spivak is this kind.) You should decide what fits your needs best. You don't necessarily need to learn high-school-style calculus first -- my first intro to calculus was Serge Lang's book, which is similar to Spivak but more compressed -- but if you're just getting started computing derivatives it may help to do some physics problems to build intuition.

Comment author: Kutta 29 May 2011 04:39:21PM *  0 points [-]

Thank you!

I think I'll stick to Spivak, then. Technically I've been taught the high-school style calculus twice, once in high-school and once in college, but the former was mediocre and the latter was ridiculously abridged and compressed, and I usually employed the "study one day before exam" strategy. The high-school style calculus would be most likely adequate for me but I think I should try at least once a Rigorous Math Textbook.

Comment author: Barry_Cotter 01 June 2011 05:46:51PM 0 points [-]

Calculus Made Easy. It's not perfect, but hey, it's free. Worth looking at.

Comment author: Manfred 29 May 2011 09:00:08AM 0 points [-]

Stewart is commonly used, so it might be good, and it will be easy to find cheap.

Comment author: [deleted] 30 May 2011 10:12:08AM 2 points [-]

Ugh. I remember Stewart. It was all formalism and high-handed discussion of concept, and little in the way of concrete examples. A lot of the learning came from working through the exercises, which is frustrating for obvious reasons. It is thorough, however, and will teach the foundations.

For someone who isn't as interested in formalism, I would recommend Larson, Hostetler, and Edwards (just find an old edition at a used book store). It's geared toward advanced high-school math and had (in my edition at least) a review of pre-calculus/trigonometry, so it might work better for your purposes. Best of luck!