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The Cartoon Guide to Calculus (Cartoon Guide Series) Paperback – December 27, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“How do you humanize calculus and bring its equations and concepts to life? Larry Gonick’s clever and delightful answer is to have characters talking, commenting, and joking-all while rigorously teaching equations and concepts and indicating calculus’s utility. It’s a remarkable accomplishment-and a lot of fun.” (Lisa Randall, Professor of Physics, Harvard University, and author of Knocking on Heaven's Door)

Gonick is to graphical expositions of advanced materials as Newton or Leibniz is to calculus. The difference is that Gonick has no rival. (Xiao-Li Meng, Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Statistics and Department Chair, Harvard University)

Larry Gonick’s sparkling and inventive drawings make a vivid picture out of every one of the hundreds of formulas that underlie Calculus. Even the jokers in the back row will ace the course with this book. (David Mumford, Professor emeritus of Applied Mathematics at Brown University and recipient of the National Medal of Science)

I always thought that there are no magic tricks that use calculus. Larry Gonick proves me wrong. His book is correct, clear and interesting. It is filled with magical insights into this most beautiful subject. (Persi Diaconis, Professor of Mathematics, Stanford)

It has no mean derivative results about the only derivatives that matter…. A spunky tool-toting heroine called Delta Wye seems the perfect role model for our next generation. (Susan Holmes, Professor of Statistics, Stanford)

A creative take on an old, and for many, tough subject…Gonick’s cartoons and intelligent humor make it a fun read. (Amy Langville, Recipient of the Distinguished Researcher Award at College of Charleston and South Carolina Faculty of the Year)

From the Back Cover

A complete—and completely enjoyable—new illustrated guide to calculus

Master cartoonist Larry Gonick has already given readers the history of the world in cartoon form. Now, Gonick, a Harvard-trained mathematician, offers a comprehensive and up-to-date illustrated course in first-year calculus that demystifies the world of functions, limits, derivatives, and integrals. Using clear and helpful graphics—and delightful humor to lighten what is frequently a tough subject—he teaches all of the essentials, with numerous examples and problem sets. For the curious and confused alike, The Cartoon Guide to Calculus is the perfect combination of entertainment and education—a valuable supplement for any student, teacher, parent, or professional.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cartoon Guide Series
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; Original edition (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061689092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061689093
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By R. Gonzalez on February 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was eagerly awaiting Larry Gonick's book on Calculus for some time, and now that it's finally here and I have a copy, I'm mostly pleased with it...

BUT...

I now understand why just having cartoons in a book does not necessarily make the book easier to understand -- it only provides a kind of amusing distraction.

The main problem with Gonick's book is that there are too many places where the "explanations" are really no better than what you'd get in a stodgy establishment book, such as the section on "lemmas" and all that. For a true beginner -- or even someone with some experience in calculus -- it's still an alien mire of jargon and symbols. And what's worse is all the little self-serving cartoons where, after all the symbol-muck has been dumped on the page, the little Gonick-character keeps singing some little variant on "QED".

Now, never mind that Gonick doesn't even explain what his character is chanting, and not only does he not explain what "QED" means, but he uses it for instances where he may have "demonstratumed" it to the satisfaction of the math-droid race of Alpha Centauri or something, but he certainly hasn't "demonstratumed" it for real human beings -- presumably the ones he would most want to buy his book!

So, which is it? Did Gonick write this book for newcomers to the subject, or did he write it for the cloistered clique of math priesthood? Because of course THEY're going to love it -- they ALREADY understand everything in it, and are getting a kick out of all the cliquey little cartoon references.

But the rest of us? The "unwashed masses"? In too many places in this book, we've been left out in the cold.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Book Reader on January 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Gonick has done it again. This book is very good at explaining the basic concepts of calculus in a lighthearted manner.

One drawback is that this book has very few problems for the reader to work on or test themselves on their understanding of the material. One of the traps of mathematics is that it is easy to read something and think that you understand it. But when you go to workout a problem you may find out that you really didn't understand it after all. So it is important to work out problems to test your understanding.

This book is a good supplement to calculus textbooks with problems to be worked out.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Citizen7 on January 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Larry Gonick's new book on "The" calculus takes a traditionally fearsome subject and renders it friendly, which is no mean feat. This book will get you though the introductory topics (polynomials, limits, functions, etc.) needed to acquire a basic fluency with the methods of differentiation and integration, which together form the foundation of calculus. I also appreciated the guidance on applications in statistics, as well as some idea of what to expect in more advanced topics.

I would disagree with the previous reviewer on there not being any problems; they are given in later chapters. In fact, I found an omission in one: Chapter 8, Problem 3, part 2, dealing with methods of approximating the definite integral:

"What do you get when you split the difference? [i.e. problems, 1, 2] Find: "1/2 (E_high - E_low)" [graphically]. Do you see how this is the area of the light gray trapezoids?"

My answer is "No". However,if the equation were (E_low + (1/2 (E_high - E_low))), my answer would be "Yes". I think the fist term was accidentally omited. But, see? That just goes to show that when you're supported by such a friendly book, you can actually have fun being curious, rather than intimidated.

I was a little put off by the flatulent functions (cartoon characters) of the earlier chapters. Kind of gross (but imaginative).
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By jr on April 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
Gonick is a solid master of making the complex simple and going deeper into the fundamental meanings behind equations. He gets into why equations work at a level that my text books never even pretended to be able to do. The cartoons are great for visual learner at illustrating the abstract and creating an understanding of what you are looking at when you look at a graph in calculus.

Read this before you take calculus, or teach calculus.

FYI, I am a chemical engineer and I keep it around now just for fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By danielcip on April 23, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reader must be very familiar with the Calculus to get much out of this book...if you are not familiar with the Calculus, this is nothing more than a silly cartoon book. Very disappointed in that I was expecting Gonick to take an often complicated process and simplify it for ease of understanding. This book is good for teachers of the Calculus but not for someone new to the maths and wants to learn something.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Refugio Reyes Valdes on March 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like the structure and contents of the book, it fits perfectly in a first calculus course. Even it is written in a cartoon format it has no lack of formality.

The contents is well organizad beginning with the concept of function which is fundamental to develop the subsequent topics. This chapter covers algebraic, power, exponential and circular functions. Also includes composing and inverse of functions.

The next chapters includes limits (epsilon-delta approach included), derivatives and applications (optimization), definite an indefinite integrals. All material is presented in a way that could be followed as a self-learning process.

The only I could criticize is the design of character that represents a function. For me and other colleagues is a kind of antipathic personage.

In general, I strongly recommend the book.
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