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Calculus? Anyone know a good place to start?

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Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:49 pm
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ShadowKnight155 says...

I would like to teach myself calculus, but uh...I don't know where to start. I've taken basic algebra and I'm in geometry, but I've never taken trig, physics(isn't this more of a post calc thing anyways?), or a second algebra(I'm pretty sure there is one...). I would like to know if anyone knows a good book(cheaper preferably...)/resource that teaches how to do it and helps develop an understanding of it.

I'm decent at math, but I've forgotten a couple things from algebra. Any resources on Trig and Algebra would be welcome as well, and knowing exactly what prerequisites I should have before attempting to learn calc. With algebra, two of the things I know for a fact I am forgetting how to do/what they are, are systems and quadratics. I never quite 100% grasped quadratics because they did't focus on them at all really, and systems I just haven't dealt with, but I do understand them, it's just the process of solving them algebraically.

Any questions toward me are welcome if there's anything helpful you might need to know to help me, and thanks for the help in advance!

PS: as for my math skills, I take things slower, and I'm not happy unless I know I will understand them later, or understand them when I'm doing them. However, I am accurate when I am given the time, and I have a great capacity for concepts.

Again, thanks!

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Sat Jan 21, 2012 1:51 am
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murtuza says...

Maybe this might help you out on your quest for conquering Calculus. I hope it 'works out' ;)
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Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:45 pm
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Charlie II says...

I think you're very brave, ShadowKnight155. Calculus is a part of maths that took me the longest to get my head around -- hopefully you'll find it more natural than I did!

If you were studying in the UK then, judging by the age on your profile, you wouldn't be meeting calculus for another two years. That means you're looking at "A-Level" standard maths, and there's a reasonable website for that sort of standard here.

I'd start with the Pure Maths topics on calculus and then, if you're really keen, check out the Mechanics topics. These are basically an application of the theory you learn in the Pure Maths and, with a strong lean toward Physics, will hopefully give you an idea of how to use the techniques you have learned.

Best of luck to you, though!

EDIT: With regard to trigonometry -- it doesn't seem like it links to calculus but it's *incredibly* important when you come to evaluating integrals (especially if you have a problem in more than one dimension and need to use non-cartesian coordinates). I'd persevere with it, if you can, because it'll be worth it in the long run.
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Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:50 pm
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Jagged says...

My favorite maths resource on internet is the Patrick JMT website: he covers an enormous amount of algebra, calculus, trig and other stuff with video tutorials of sorts, as well as examples.

It's very well explained and I've been using it to supplement my calc classes when I didn't quite get something, so I think it could be quite useful to you!
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Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:54 pm
Nightshade says...

Hey Shadow, it has been a few weeks since you posted, so I'm not sure whether you're still checking this thread, but I have a quick suggestion. I really suggest getting a strong grounding in trig before even attempting calculus, as it will be impossible to get far at all with calculus without understanding trig. It's also a very good idea to get some advanced algebra under your belt before going after calculus. I don't have a comprehensive enough memory to list all of the advanced algebra concepts I've used in calc, but synthetic division, completing the square, polynomials, and logarithms (particularly natural logarithms) are all things I've encountered in my calc classes.

Basically, don't rush into calc. If you don't have a really strong foundation in trig and algebra, you'll get stuck and frustrated very quickly. It's always best to understand the base concepts well before moving into a new area.

Good luck! Math can be a lot of fun, and it's cool that you're looking to learn it in your free time.

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Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:04 pm
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stargazer9927 says...

I agree, take trig and advanced math before calculus. You'll need it. Also, in my opinion physics is so much easier than calculus, and it's better to take them together because you're learning the same basic things except physics is less complicated and more about the concept rather than the math (although there is math involved). I'm saying this because I took them both my senior year and I dropped out of calculus after feeling I was getting no where with a terrible grade, and stayed in physics with a solid A all four terms without doing a ton of studying. But that might just be my school or me. Either way, have a foundation.
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