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How to Ace Calculus


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Table of Contents

Exactly who and what is your instructor?; the general principles of acing calculus; good and bad questions; are you ready? the calc prereqs; how to handle the exam; lines, circles and their friends; limits - you gotta have them; continuity or why you shouldn't ski down continuous slopes; what is the derivative? change is good; the limit definition of the derivative - finding derivatives the hard way; derivatives - how to find them the easy way; velocity and acceleration - put the pedal to the metal; the chain rules - S&M made easy; graphing - how to doodle like an expert; maxima and minima - the bread and butter section; implicit differentiation - let's be oblique; related rates - you change, I change; the differential - estimating your way to fame and glory; the intermediate value of theorem and the mean value theorem; integration -doing it all backwards; the definite integral; modelling - from toy planes to the runway; exponents and logarithms - a review of all that "e" hoopla; doing that calc thing to exponents and logs; logarithmic differentiation - making the hard stuff easy; exponential growth and decay - the rise and fall of slime; fancy pants techniques of integration; the twenty most common exam mistakes; what's going to be on the final?; glossary - a quick guide to the mathematical jargon.

Promotional Information

Colin Adams was awarded the Mathematical Association of America Distinguished Teaching Award for 1998.

About the Author

Colin Adams is Professor of Mathematics at Williams College. He is the author of The Knot Book and winner of the Mathematical Association of America Distinguished Teaching Award for 1998. Joel Hass is Professor of Mathematics at the University of California at Davis, and Abigail Thompson is also Professor of Mathematics at the University of California at Davis. Both have held fellowships from the Sloan Foundation and the National Science Foundation.


"Imagine calculus is a solid old house built on good foundations. When the time comes to sell it to a new owner, a lick of brightly colored, cheery paint can do wonders. This is what Adams, Hass, and Thompson have done in How to Ace Calculus." --Keith Devlin, Dean, School of Science, St. Mary's College (CA), Senior Researcher, Stanford University, and author of The Language of Mathematics

"This is a marvelous, user-friendly introduction to the basic ideas of calculus. It is effective, humorous and eminently practical. The book that 100,000 calculus students have been searching for is finally here." --Ron Graham, Chief Scientist, AT&T Labs, former President of the American Mathematical Society, and author of Concrete Mathematics: A Foundation of Computer Science

"Can a calculus book be lighthearted and engaging? Surprisingly, yes, and here is one that does the job." --Thomas Banchoff, Professor of Mathematics, Brown University, President-Elect of the Mathematics Association of America, and author of Beyond the Third Dimension

"This book is dangerously clear, direct, and funny. It should be suppressed before it jeopardizes the time-tested function of the calculus sequence to befuddle and filter surplus students." --William Thurston, Professor of Mathematics, University of California at Davis, Fields Medalist, and former Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

"Comic opera meets college math in this amusing and edifying roller coaster of an introduction to calculus." --Ivars Peterson, author of The Mathematical Tourist

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