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Calculus Made Easy Revised, Updated, Expanded Edition

155 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312185480
ISBN-10: 0312185480
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Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

Equal-opportunity reviewers, we welcome a book on behalf of the continuum! It is for the mathematically eager who know some algebra. The first edition appeared anonymously in 1910 in England, and overall a million copies have been sold. In fact, most talk of continuum and its infinities is suppressed; the eye is nicely fixed on little bits of x, called dx, their differences and sums among all kinds of functions, their geometric meaning, and what they can do for you--a lot. Martin Gardner, himself an American mathematical landmark, says, "This is the leanest and liveliest introduction to calculus ever written," and, taken with his own present augmentation, three whole chapters and more, including infinite series and some neat problems, he is quite right. The times they are a-changing, and we admit we are not current in computer resources. Maybe "little bits of x" ought to--or have been--placed on the screen in a serious pedagogic structure that students can manipulate. Graphics programs that share the scope and spirit of Thompson/Gardner would make a valued complement to their paper-and-pencil book.


"Calculus Made Easy is arguably the best math teaching ever. To a non-mathematician, its simplicity and clarity reveals the mathematical genius of Newton, Leibniz, and Thompson himself. Martin Gardner deserves huge thanks for renewing this great book."—Julian Simon, author of Population Matters

"A remarkable and user-friendly approach to the study of calculus, made even more so by Martin Gardner, the most highly acclaimed mathematical expositor of our time."—R.L. Graham, Chief Scientist, AT&T Labs, and author of Concrete Mathematics

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Revised, Updated, Expanded edition (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312185480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312185480
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

316 of 322 people found the following review helpful By Miles Waltner on March 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Being an electrical engineer (with additional majors in mathematics and physics) and pushing twenty-five years work experience, I have to admit not a little anger at having read this book. This anger, however, stems from the facts a) that I was not fortunate enough to have had it as a resource while I was learning calculus and b) I have seen a lot of author-aggrandizing techno-babble dedicated to the subject that has served only to discourage the masses! Mr. Gardner has done a great service with regard to both Mr. Thompson's opus and all students of mathematics. With Mr. Gardner's additions, it is even simpler, more straightforward and, in terminology borrowed from the realm of pure mathematics, "elegant" in its presentation and demystification of the subject. To anyone beginning the study of calculus and desiring to understand and appreciate the subject, it is highly recommended for both reading and practice.
M. L. Sewell, Jr., 3/2000
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193 of 196 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I have been teaching Calculus for the last two years, and I just stumbled across this book a few weeks ago. What I found was a book that explains the philosophy of the subject in a very simple manner, making it easy to understand even for people who are not proficient in math.
The concepts in Calculus are really simple things; as Gardner puts it, "the universe seems to favor simplicity in its fundamental laws". But there's always the teacher's pride, which leads him to make it all seem difficult, expecting the student to be amazed at how much the teacher knows. Alas the true result is that the student is usually left confused, loses interest in the subject, perhaps gives up on a career that he/she otherwise would have succeeded in, etc. I know about this, because I am guilty of it myself.
I recommend this book to people who:
1. Are just learning calculus. The book uses easy-to-understand language, simple examples, etc. Read about the binomial theorem before reading this book, though.
2. People who want to grasp the essence of calculus, not necessarily for a college course. Easy, entertaining reading; as stated earlier, the philosophy of the subject is presented in a comprehensible manner.
3. Calculus teachers. Definitely a must! This book is a good example of how calculus should be taught. Though you may not draw totally upon it, having read through Thompson's book can give you a good idea on how to organize your course and how to explain fundamental concepts
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124 of 127 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After 3 years of advanced mathematics in college and an engineering degree, everything I knew about calculus was rote: I could come up with the answers, but not because I understood the underlying principles or basis, but because I could memorize procedures. Years out of school, I bought this book and read it, and the light bulb turned on. I don't know whether I was just a bad student before, had bad teachers, or simply was presented the material in a way that was incompatible with the way I learn. In any case, this book did it for me, and perhaps it will do the same for others. I've since gone back through my old college math books, and they're as difficult to understand as they were the first time. If you know someone struggling with calculus, do them a favor and get them this book.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Dennis J McCain on July 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Most calculus courses are taught to college freshman by graduate students who really didn't understand the course when they were freshman being taught by graduate students who didn't understand it when they were taught, etc, etc. Once you realize that most college instructors aren't proficient in the course to teach it, then you start to realize that if you're ever going to truly understand calculus, then you better find an alternative source of knowledge. And this book is exactly that source.

Read this book before you enter one of those imposing lecture halls (or at least the appropriate chapter of this book). Then and only then will you begin to at least recognize what the instructor is saying. And hopefully you will recognize when they're saying something that is not quite right.

Calculus is not hard; it's just not easy. This book probably should have been titled Calculus Made Understandable, or Caculus Made Fun, but it wasn't. So read the book and do the problems. It will open up a whole world of enjoyment that will last a lifetime.

Remember this very important point. Math was never learned in a lecture hall --- it's only truly learned in a study hall or library doing problems over and over and over.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Roscoe L. Ellis on February 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the very best math book I have ever read. As many other reviewers have pointed out, this book is an excellent source for UNDERSTANDING calculus!!! If you want to understand calculus, this book is an outstandingly excellent beginning. I studied calculus over 30 years ago as a math major. I currently teach mathematics and was absolutely stunned when I ran across this wonderful, beautful, lucid exposition of the differential and integral calculus. Dr. Thompson is surely ranked among the greatest math teachers of all time. Of course, Martin Gardner's revision simply increases the lucidity, joy and beauty of this mathematics classic. MUST reading for any literate and intelligent person, who wants to UNDERSTAND mathematics. There are tons of books that one can read in order to learn how to "do" mathematics, but Thompson's book is in a class by itself, when it comes to excellence in teaching mathematial understanding. I simply cannot find the words to describe the sheer joy and wonder I experienced while reading Calculus Made Easy!!!!
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