Most helpful positive review
68 of 80 people found the following review helpful
One of the top two precalculus texts available
on March 14, 2005
There is a mind-numbing sameness to precalculus and calculus textbooks, and this book is more of the same. The coverage starts with real numbers, exponents, expressions and solving equations. The basic principles of functions, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions, solving systems of equations, sequences, series, counting and probability, analytic geometry and limits follow this. I personally can do without the chapter on limits, when I teach precalculus, I am hard pressed to cover the other material. There is plenty of time to cover limits in calculus and it provides a better context. There are a large number of exercises at the end of each section and solutions to the odd-numbered ones are included in an appendix. As appears to be the case with many books, some of the exercises could have been left out with no decline in quality. At times I suspect there is the mathematical equivalent of an "arms race" to see how many exercises can be included at the end of a chapter.
The previous paragraph could be used to describe nearly every precalculus text on the planet, so it fits into the category of obvious, but necessary. Therefore, the key point is what makes this book different from the competition. The answer is not much. The approach is the standard statement of the new material followed by a series of worked examples, which is also the fundamental strategy used in all lower level math books. Short biographical asides of some of the major historical figures in mathematics are interjected on a regular basis. I like that, but wonder how often the students read them. What is different about this book is that the quality of the writing is somewhat better than most. In a field where there is very little to differentiate the texts, that is enough to make me rank this book in the top two precalculus books that are available.