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How to Ace Calculus: The Streetwise Guide [Paperback]

Colin Adams , Abigail Thompson , Joel Hass
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)

Price: $18.26 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Book Description

July 15, 1998 0716731606 978-0716731603
Written by three gifted—and funny—teachers, How to Ace Calculus provides humorous and readable explanations of the key topics of calculus without the technical details and fine print that would be found in a more formal text. Capturing the tone of students exchanging ideas among themselves, this unique guide also explains how calculus is taught, how to get the best teachers, what to study, and what is likely to be on exams—all the tricks of the trade that will make learning the material of first-semester calculus a piece of cake. Funny, irreverent, and flexible, How to Ace Calculus shows why learning calculus can be not only a mind-expanding experience but also fantastic fun.

Frequently Bought Together

How to Ace Calculus: The Streetwise Guide + How to Ace the Rest of Calculus: The Streetwise Guide, Including MultiVariable Calculus (How to Ace S) + The Humongous Book of Calculus Problems
Price for all three: $45.15

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Editorial Reviews


"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

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.

Product Details

  • Series: How to Ace
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books (July 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716731606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716731603
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 7.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
273 of 288 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A threat to Calculus as it is currently taught July 20, 1999
By A Customer
I am a math professor at a large state university. Like math departments everywhere, we depend on calculus students for our very existence. Students who fail Calculus, or repeat customers as we like to call them, are of course the most highly appreciated of all.
An otherwise good student, given the right combination of obscure lectures and unreadable texts, may pay for the same Calculus course 2, 3 or even 4 times. The Streetwise Guide is too thin and too cheap. Moreover, the writing style gives ordinary students what they need to master Calculus the first time they take it. In other words, this book is a threat to mathematics departments everywhere.
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120 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How is this possible? November 14, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Unless you're a mathematician, it is probably a rare thing when you find a math book that you would enjoy reading in your free time. It is utterly inconceivable that you would find a CALCULUS book that you wouldn't mind for some light night reading.
Believe it or not, inconceivable does not imply impossible, and here is the proof in hard copy. I HATE calculus and I found this book both easy to understand and actually amusing! It was an excellent refresher for my 2nd (and surprisingly successful) attempt to pass calculus II. I really wish I'd had this thing earlier, when I was slaving away through first-quarter calculus. For anyone who is taking calculus or wants to review, I give this book my highest recommendation. Now, if only these folks would write a full-length textbook!
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83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scared of math? This book is for you November 17, 1999
By A Customer
My dad bought me this book the summer before my senior year in high school (this year) - I looked at it and thought, "yeah, right." I'm a humanities person, I got a C in my last term of Pre-calculus, and I didn't think some book was going to help. However, once my AP Calc class started, I thought "hey, might as well give it a try." That was the best idea I've had in a long time. Mr. Adams and friends explain the concepts so clearly that I have to wonder what the authors of standard calculus texts were thinking when they wrote their books. Not only do I have an A- in the class, I have a much better understanding of what we're actually learning than the students who used to do better than me by just following all the formulas. In short, I am acing calculus, and (this is very hard for me to admit) enjoying it as well. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who panics at the thought of calculus.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really helped to take the pressure off. April 6, 2001
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am horrible at math. I used this book in my Calculus I class last semester (Fall 2000) and part of Calculus II and it really helped me out. With this book and a lot of determination I was able to get an 'A' in Cal I and, depending on how my final exam turns out, it looks like I might get an 'A' in Cal II. I am completely convinced I would not have done as well with just my text book alone. I was impressed that all though the book was 1/5 the size of my Calculus text, everytime I stumbled in class I was able to flip right to the section I was having problems with and it explained almost everything in a clear and relevent manner. Some of the humor in the book is a bit of stretch and there were a few topics on which I wish the book contained a bit more information. Particularly the chapter "Fancy Pants Techniques of Integration." I really could have used a little more help on Trigonometric Substitutions, Misc Substitutions, and Partial Fractions. Other than that, this book is easily one of the best educational supplements I've ever purchased. I have "How to Ace the Rest of Calculus" on order now. I hope it gets to me before the end of the semester.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THANK YOU! June 19, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am heading back to school to finish up a Mathematics degree. Been away from school for a while, and even though I've completed Calc I, II and III (over 8 years ago), Calc is the prereq for my remaining advanced math courses. What to do?!?

Found this little gem three weeks ago, ordered it, and finished it tonight (an hour or two each night, and still living my life)! Given the textbook racket that seems to have become more costly than courses - not to mention filled with sometimes _too_ much information - I'm happy to say that this book is cleverly written, to the point, yet thorough with the principles and explanations of the general principles of Calculus.

I recommend this book to anyone who is:

a) about to take a beginning Calculus course
b) in need of an excellent refresher on the topic
c) would like to learn Calculus for fun, in a fun way!

Thanks goes out to the previous reviewers, and to the authors for taking the time to care about the student by setting the egos aside (next week it's on to How to Ace: the Rest of Calculus)!
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Proof that you can learn calculus without stress February 18, 2001
This book is aptly subtitled, as so much of the advice could have been written by knowledgeable students rather than three mathematics professors. The second chapter gives you sound advice regarding how to choose a calculus instructor and what the different academic ranks often mean. While students learn this very quickly through informal channels, it is surprising to read three professors publicly stating that the instructor is the single most determining factor as to whether you enjoy or hate calculus. Of course it is often true and we all know it. Many professors view teaching undergraduates as some form of penance and it shows in the quality of their teaching. Furthermore, although things are changing a bit, working hard to instruct well is often negatively reflected in a tenure decision. The remainder of the book is a combination of a relaxed, joking style and sound advice that is part of the standard exam speech given by many teachers.

* Arrive on time.
* Read the problems carefully.
* Check your work.
* Don't erase in a panic.
* Try for partial credit.

However, presented in the form of jokes, it is possible that the message will penetrate a little deeper.
The authors also do one other very admirable thing. Rather than try to boost sales by deleting or grossly simplifying mathematical expressions, all of the major formulas of first year calculus are here, and in the same form as they appear in standard calculus texts. However, the approach is much more relaxed, which makes it more understandable than a formal text. In the days when I was teaching calculus, so many of the problems that students had was a consequence of being intimidated by the formal structure of the text and the rigor of the proofs.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
not an introductory book
Published 4 days ago by J. P. Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Okay
I bought their second edition book and loved it so I purchased this one but it does not help much for calc 2 and the next one helps for calc 3 so I am confused about the missing in... Read more
Published 15 days ago by JAV
5.0 out of 5 stars Efficient coverage of key topics
This book is a great supplement to learning calculus fundamentals. I'm usually not a fan of these kind of books and they tend to be watered down but this does a very good job of... Read more
Published 19 days ago by kyle peyton
3.0 out of 5 stars It was ok
I really appreciated how this book was written. It was like an instructor trying to explain Calculus to you with some humor. Not so serious. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Natalie Fayleen Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
I haven't aced calculus yet, but this book was what I was looking for as far as an easy read for someone who is completely intimidated by math.
Published 1 month ago by TA.D
5.0 out of 5 stars Light, concise help on most (but not all) topics we covered in...
Last fall my son enrolled in Calculus 1 as a college freshman. I thought that, having taken calculus 40 years ago, it might be an interesting time for me to try a refresher -- so... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Frank
3.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting introduction
The introduction to this book in which the author explains to college freshmen how to choose a good teacher makes it well worth its price. I haven't read any further.
Published 4 months ago by William P. Shackleford, Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fails to deliver, but makes up for it with the goat jokes
I'm divided on this book. On the one hand, you're never gonna laugh as hard (or at all, even) with any other book on the subject of calculus. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Kharan
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent publication, our son says
Very helpful in our son's studies, especially when he encounters a stumbling block. Very useful when the professor's instruction is not always clear.
Published 7 months ago by A. Bryant
5.0 out of 5 stars supplement to calculus
great book for learning outlines for Calculus.. Its a good book to supplement calculus. I would like to buy the other ace it book
Published 8 months ago by LERM
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