This textbook is one third pre-calculus (algebra, analytical geometry) and the rest introductory calculus presented in just over four hundred pages of content. The presentation is often overtly jocular. This style could be friendly and even entertaining to some: “Are you having so much trouble with derivatives that you are thinking about jumping from the nearest tall building? Well, stop, because you’ll only come under the influence of other derivatives…” Ignoring the jokes, the book, complete with exercises and examples, is a suitable textbook for a first semester of calculus, especially at the high school level. The text integrates with Freemathhelp.com and Calc101.com through suggested content-relevant tasks.
The calculus portion is only a few hundred pages that also offer plenty of large images and many exercises. Thus, there is not much overall ground covered as compared to most other calculus texts at this level. However, much of the content is lucidly explanatory. I especially appreciate the time taken to derive basic derivative rules, such as the chain rule. I also applaud the author for presenting the development of integration rules for a wide range of cases as well as a rich section on applied optimization approaches and elasticity. There are also fairly detailed applications from sports, state budgets, and tax equalization rates that take the reader to the verge of ODEs. There is an enlightening graphical emphasis throughout these applications.
The author chooses mnemonic variable usage, such as “s” for slope over the common “m”, but this approach may confuse some students of the elementary topics, such as the “i” used for intercept values presented to a student who has probably learned a little about complex numbers. The author’s jolly nature and willingness to use unconventional phrasing come together best in the introduction of utility assessment as “happiness optimization”.
Tom Schulte prefers a dry humor delivering lectures to mathematics students at Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills, Michigan.