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on October 1, 2010
Of the 18 math textbooks I've used in my academic lifetime, this is the worst by a mile. Let's start with the unforgivable flaw: it does a terrible job explaining mathematical concepts. Mr. Stewart seems to assume absolute mastery of all material involved (often high-level algebra and trigonometry) -- an assumption that causes him to frequently skip or combine steps in explanations, which can leave you scratching your head at how the hell he arrived at the conclusion (sometimes he even seems to assume you know the very thing he's supposed to be teaching you). I found that reading the intro & examples for any given section gives adequate training to solve the first 10 or 20 problems, but for the remaining 30 you're on your own, stuck there staring blankly at the page, frustrated at having no educational resource to turn to. If you want to survive whatever class force-feeds this textbook down your throat, you'd better hope to end up with a professor who's clear and helpful enough to compensate (do prior research on ratemyprofessors.com), because you won't get far relying on this book alone.

For the record, I'm not a moron. I scored 91%ile on the math SAT, got an A in the course preceding this one (Precalculus), and have always felt comfortable with math. This book made me feel pretty dumb until I found all the Amazon reviews on Stewart's other calc books making the same complaints. Don't let it get you down.

We can dock further points for being 1,000+ pages thick, not very solidly constructed (the binding gets weak and wiggly pretty fast), and with a sticker closing in on $160, outrageously overpriced.
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on December 4, 2011
This textbook is absolutely terrible at explaining and teaching calculus. Each chapter starts off with a complex, mathematical definition. Okay, that's fine, but it never explains in layman's terms how on earth we're supposed to adapt this definition to problems. I'm not a self-taught genius! I'm a student! Explain, explain, explain! After the definition, there are a couple examples, but these are more useless than helpful. Very rarely are steps shown in the examples to walk you through the steps. Even if I look up techniques I already know, I'm still confused by this textbook's way of instructing.

If you want to pass calculus, you're going to need a great instructor, not this book. It's horrible for studying and is really only good for the homework problems, if you have the solutions manual (which you have to pay even more for). This textbook is just lazy, a waste of money, and will only confuse you further. Avoid if at all possible.
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on June 18, 2004
This book was actually my textbook for 3 semesters in a row, and, throughout that time, I've been basically forced to live with this book next to me at almost all times. There are certainly some good points and bad, but I'll start with the good.
First off, the book does an excellent job, in my opinion, of giving every student of (almost) all ability levels a chance to grasp some deep calculus theories. For the math majors, that includes theoretical proofs (though most are just sketched in there!) and some good proof problems near the end of each section, and, for the non-math people, many applied problems (both "textbook" and "real-world" applied problems) combined with many routine drill-type problems to drive the concepts home. I also liked the numerous amounts of graphs and pictures drawn in the book, especially for 3-D graphing and surfaces, where it's not as easy to construct those by hand. His review of algebra and trigonometry is also very helpful, as my high school did not cover some of the topics in my precalc class before I took calculus I in college.
But, for the bad, my first gripe is with the organization. You can obviously tell that the book was written in two volumes as there is a clear shift from single-variable to multi-variable in the style of presentation (less examples in the multi-variable, no CD-ROM help available) and language (he shifts from a "let's be nice to the student" point of view in the beginning to skipping some essential steps in exercises and writing like a math professor as you go along!). Also, I felt that some of the sections were out of place where they were, like the l'Hospital's Rule section being right in-between a bunch of sections on physical applications of dervatives? While I can certainly see it as being an application of derivatives, I see it as much more of a theoretical topic than an application; in my opinion, it should come near the end of techniques of differentiation (chapter 3). Also, I felt that he should've included more examples with the solids of revolution sections, one of the hardest parts of calculus for me (and MANY other people in my class); it's one of the only sections in single-variable that considers 3-D problems; therefore, it should be taken slowly, in my opinion. One other gripe: the cost! That's a lot of money to be shelling out on a single book! Luckily, I knew I would use it for three semesters, so it was worth it. If you're not planning on taking multi-variable calculus, then only buy the single-variable volume to save yourself some money!
So, my final thought: If you're looking for a book with a lot of exercises for all levels, then this is definitely a good book. If you're looking for a book to essentially replace a teacher, then this book won't do that. A good teacher will most likely need to accompany this book to really get something out of it.
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on April 18, 2011
This book is honestly quite terrible. Other reviewers generally concur, with a few exceptions every now and then that point out some of its good qualities. This is a very difficult book to actually learn from. The provided instructions provide only a narrow track which you must follow. You are told what the rules are, but not what they are not. When you encounter a problem in the homework that does not fall into the neat little mold that the author provides then you will be lost. And good luck trying to find the info in the book. It seems that I constantly have the feeling that I am playing catch-up. Bits of information are resurrected from earlier chapters that send me scrambling for definitions.

This scrambling gets old fast, so I started paying closer attention to what is actually in this book, and I can tell you honestly, there's alot, but it doesn't amount to much. He is constantly leaving out definitions, provides little context to what are the most important things to learn, and very, very, often he goes full steam into examples in the book without explaining what they are, what they are for, when to use them, when not to use them, and often doesn't even bother to have any sort of introduction to the lesson. I get the feeling that the author thinks that I should already know how to use what is being taught and to understand the importance of each lesson, just as he does. Long story short, this book will often leave you scratching your head and wondering what you missed. Eventually you will probably just give up on the class, or you perhaps if you do hang in there, buy a better book, or just ask wikipedia.
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on December 18, 2002
I used this textbook for my high school calculus class, and we found many mistakes in the book itself. The textbook is quite large in size, but I think it is missing some important topics. Also, the explainations for solving different problems is extremely vague and I personally had a lot of trouble just trying to figure out what the author was getting at, rather than trying to figure out the math problems. I would not recommend this book because the explainations are too vague and difficult to comprehend.
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on April 9, 2002
Had to use this book for Calc I - It was based on so much theory and derivations, I did not understand a word of it. I guess I could put it this way: Im an A student and I got a D in calc I (which ISNT passing if your an Engineer). I did try, but this book is IMPOSSIBLE. It doesnt explain things clearly - its almost like they expect you to already KNOW calc. It might be decent for a refresher course where you have already had calculus and UNDERSTAND it, but if havnt had calc before this ISNT the book for you!!
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on October 3, 2001
this book is really bad... very poor examples... if you are not understanding the teacher and try to go home and look over the book yourself you WILL be lost... it is that bad... I am using 2 other books to help me to pass the course... there is a complete solutions manual Isbn 0534379265 however the publisher says this is a teachers aid. single persons can not order... the students solutions manual is not good.. my biggest advice... do not try to pass a calculus class with this book alone.. YOU WILL FAIL..
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on June 20, 2001
The college I attend uses this book in their calculus classes. I can honestly say that without using Calculus, sixth edition (Larson et. al.), as a supplement in my Calc II class, I would not be passing the class. Stewart's treatment of the material leans toward the abstract. Combine that with an alarming scarcity of relevent examples and trying to learn calculus from this text can be quite frustrating.
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on January 24, 2002
I'm currently in calc II and we use this book. It meshes very well with the environment of the class, which is small and with a very good math professor. Students who are more independent may prefer other books that have more examples and more explanations into the theory of calculus to this one. If you have a solid background in pre-calc, the first half of the book won't give you too many headaches. There are some sticky spots where you'll have to walk away and come back when you're in a better frame of mind, but with some patience nothing in it is impossible to grasp. As for the second half, a little more examples on trig substitution and integration by parts would probably be helpful to most. Students with other tough classes probably won't appreciate putting in the extra time it takes to make certain connections that are spelled out in other texts. Math enthusiasts would probably skip most of the readings anyway to get that satisfaction of figuring it out on their own(you know who you are!).
In a nutshell, the author is concise, gets straight to the point, and does a wonderful job of balancing pre-reform with reform calc. The graphical approach is very easy to follow, and to me, very helpful in learning the subject. Although I hated having to draw derivatives and antiderivatives from graphs, I have to admit that I learned a lot in the process. The exercises throughout the text are challenging but reasonable. Some sections would probably benefit from more plug-and-chug type exercises, though.
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on September 19, 2001
This text give some of the most irrelevent material with really bad presentation and poor examples with poor explanations. I have continuously refered to Thomas' Calculus 10th edition to gain enough understanding. This book has a LOT to be desired.
S.R. @ UT Knoxville
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