This is a collection of articles on calculus from the MAA journals, aimed at teachers of AP calculus. It is in a sense a continuation of the earlier two-volume set A Century of Calculus, containing mostly articles published since that collection was published in 1992. The flavor is subtly different: the earlier volumes focused on clever derivations, while the present volume deals mostly with better ways to explain mainstream topics. The present volume is aimed at high-school teachers, and they will find much here that is useful, with most of it is presented in a way that they will be able to understand without too much work. For calculus experts it is less interesting to browse through that the earlier volumes, because experts will already know most of the approaches here.
I browsed through the book and did not read every article. My favorites were: “A Tale of Two CDs” (technological progress and how it has affected everything in our lives except calculus teaching), “The Best Shape for a Tin Can” (why tin cans in grocery stores do not follow the model predicted by calculus, and developing a more realistic model), and “Gabriel’s Wedding Cake” (a squared-off version of Gabriel’s Horn that is manifested as a wedding cake with an infinite number of layers, and for which it is easier to estimate the volume and surface area).
The articles are very clear and sharp reproductions, and appear to have been printed photographically from the originals (except for articles from MAA FOCUS, which were reflowed to fit the page). The titles of all the articles were re-typeset, and unfortunately this introduced a lot of typographical errors, both on the article pages and in the table of contents (different errors in the two places). The articles were cut up and arranged into whole pages in the book, and in a few cases this caused some glitches. The article on p. 420 has lost its first sentence and starts abruptly with a series of formulas. On p. 69 is a review of a book titled “Calculus with Analytic Geometry,” but the author and publisher of the work were lost. The review spends most of its time discussing calculus books throughout history, and as no bibliographic data is shown we get the impression that we are reading a post-modern meta-review of all possible calculus books. (The review is of George F. Simmons’s 1985 volume from McGraw-Hill, and it gets only one paragraph.)
Allen Stenger is a math hobbyist, library propagandist, and retired computer programmer. He volunteers in his spare time at MathNerds.com, a math help site that fosters inquiry learning. His mathematical interests are number theory and classical analysis.