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Calculus, 4th edition fourth Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0914098911
ISBN-10: 0914098918
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 680 pages
  • Publisher: Publish or Perish; fourth edition (July 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0914098918
  • ISBN-13: 978-0914098911
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 9.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was motivated to write a review after reading one that complained about someone saying the "meat of the book is in the problems." The negative reviewer took this as proof the book is no good.
That person is wrong.

It's harder to develop and write good problems than it is to state a theorem, give a proof, and some easy examples. What that negative review tells me is that person didn't do the problems, or at least try them.
I used this book in an honors calculus course, first year in college. The professor told us before the first assignment that we wouldn't be able to solve all of the problems. He said the point was to attempt them, more than once, diligently, so that we had good, specific, illuminating questions to bring to him during lectures.

My method, taken from the professor's advice, was to read the section and try the problems. If I got stuck, I'd review the definitions, solve the examples myself, then go back to the problem. I would spend hours on two or three problems. Hours. Sometimes I'd succeed, mostly I wouldn't. Then at class time or during office hours I'd have those questions ready. But it was the process of trying and failing, trying and failing again, that showed me what I was doing wrong, that gave me practice in thinking about the math, and that forced me to read, re-read, and totally memorize the definitions and theorems.

I still only got an A-. It was disappointing because I really wanted that A+. But my professor reminded me to have some perspective. By the end of that class I could integrate the hell out of any integral you put in from of me. I finally understood sequences and series. I had become very proficient in epsilon-delta proofs. I learned to use inequalities in proofs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Spivak's Calculus has reached legendary status in the mathematical community over the years. Anyone who would have done an Amazon search on it must have heard some stories about it. The many positive reviews pretty much sum up the praise I have for this book. I was fortunate enough to have this textbook at my side while going through U of M honors mathematics curriculum. We covered the material presented this book in the span of about four months, and I read through most of this book and did many of the exercises as either practice, or as part of my weekly homework assignments that were handed out. I love almost everything about his book!

Even though I love this book, there are a few things I would like to tell people who are looking at potentially buying this book

1), This will most likely be your first encounter with real mathematics. This book tests an entirely new skill-set that isn't developed in high schools today, so there will naturally be a steep learning curve. Take heart! Chapters 1, 2 and 5 are the worst; all the others are not as bad.

2). Know what you want! This book is mathematically rigorous (aka proofs). If you are an engineer or anything other than a student of pure mathematics, this will not be your cup of tea.

3). You will never again solve a problem in under 5 minutes! Many people who claim to be "good at math" have only seen the routine exercises that comprise high school mathematics today. Please be aware that this book contains PROBLEMS that force you to think long and hard and actually learn something. There are several reviews that claim that the questions are completely separate from the text, and that this book does not sufficiently prepare you for attacking the problems sets.
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Format: Hardcover
I own the second edition of this calculus book. I agree for the most part that this is a very good book. However, and let me be very clear on this point, this book is an introduction to real analysis. Spivak even admits this in the preface saying that he toyed with changing the name of the book but decided against it. If you are a freshman engineering or physics student trying to survive calculus 101/physics 101 this book is not going to help you much (if at all). However, if you are at a point in your life/career where you require/desire a deeper understanding of real functions of a real variable (say to pass Analysis 101 or go through baby Rudin, or are going to grad school for engineering, econ, physics,or math) then by all means invest in this text. Just remember to be be critical when someone is quick to blurt out the answer to "what is the best book on calculus".
Every subject requires a spanning set of books and this book should be an element of the span. With all due respect to Spivak, a book that covers calculus in the same rigorous manner, and has the benefit of almost fitting in your back pocket, is the called Introduction to Calculus by the famous Polish mathematician Kuratowski.
7 Comments 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tried this book as part of my independent studying. It was way over my head as I really had trouble with the practice problems. Unless you have a solid background in proof methodology, induction, sequences/series and advanced algebra (my pre-calc course didn't include these topics), you need not apply for any of Spivak's high level works. I excelled in pre-calculus at a junior college where only 20% passed but have quickly realized that this is no indication one is good at mathematics. Now I'm reconsidering my pursuit of a Bachelors in mathematics. This is no knock on Spivak, I'm just warning you not to purchase the book until you are ready. Fortunately, I bought it new and returned it for a full refund. I wanted to teach math, but now I might pursue something more practical like accounting.
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