Introduction to Calculus

I have to admit; I was one of those in high school and even college who never really “got” calculus.  I could go through the motions of doing really hard problems, but most of the time, never really understood why I was doing them.

Calculus can be that way; and sometimes it’s all right!  I hope to be able to help you know what you need to understand and what you just need to be able to do, when going through your Calculus classes.  Honestly, there are some parts that I still don’t really understand.

This first section of Calculus will cover the Advanced Placement (AP) AB course, since that’s what I typically tutor.  I hope to eventually cover the more advanced BC course, and I will indicate it as so.

To simplify, typically your first calculus class has to do with rates of things (Differentiation) and area of things (Integration).  What calculus adds to what you’ve been doing in Algebra and Geometry is that the concepts are extended to finding rates and areas of curvy things (lines and 3-D objects); it was first invented in the 1700’s (possibly earlier!) to be used in many concepts in Physics (not my favorite subject!) J

In fact, calculus grew from some problems that European mathematicians were working on during the seventeenth century:  general slope, or tangent line problems, velocity and acceleration problems, minimum and maximum problems, and area problems.

Calculus usually starts out with the study of limits, which can be quite frightening and confusing.  This is because we need limits to “understand” the foundation of Differential Calculus; we need to “appreciate” the math before we plug away at doing it much easier.  Let’s plug through limits as well as we can!

On to Limits and Continuity!

3 thoughts on “Introduction to Calculus

  1. first year studyin civil engineering,never did ap maths before,having difficulty understanding
    absolute values,drawing the graphs,basically this entire section of calculus has got me baffled,i want to get my bearings,please give some guidance,my tuturiols and lectures is jus fireign to me right now

    • You may want to look at this website:

      First semester Calculus is basically 3 things: Limits, Derivatives and Integrals. Derivatives and Integrals are both limit processes so it’s key to get a grasp of limits; the ideas and the methods.
      I’ve taught Calculus a number of times and find that many students struggle because their algebra and trigonometry knowledge and skills are lacking. The material is not necessarily difficult but you do have to put a few ideas together in order to solve some problems. Also, many students do not like word problems and calculus definitely involves a few of those. It’s helpful if you learn to visualize, make drawings (large rather than small) and put complete info on them. Other than that, keep at it and remember that derivatives are slopes or rates of change or how one thing changes relative to another thing. Integrals are areas or sums.

      • Thanks so much for this valuable information! I’ll be sure and include it when I finish the Calculus sections. 🙂 Lisa

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