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Spivak's v. Apostol's v. Stewart's Calculus Textbook (I


intend to self-study) (se lf.m ath )
subm itte d 6 m onths ago by buddyboys

What's the best book to buy for self-study? I plan to teach


myself over the summer and then take AP Calculus BC next
year. (I'm a sophomore in high school in precalculus/trig right
now.)
Thanks!
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this post was submitted on 19 Oct 2014

7 points (73% upvoted)


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[] UniversalSnip 7 points 6 m onths ago*

Stewart is a truly bad book. However, it covers the material that


will be taught in your AB class.

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135,971 mathematicians

Spivak is an entirely different kind of book. Your class will be


~54 mathematicians online
focused on teaching you how to perform useful computations,
and Spivak is proof based, which means it is focused on teaching
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Unfortunately I'm not familiar with apostol although I've heard of Homework problems, practice problems, and
similar questions should be directed to
it before.
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it before.
I'd say stewart fits in with your plan best, overall, but that your
plan is kind of bad. If you are interested in advanced math, you
should learn some proof writing now as essentially all courses
more advanced than calculus are taught in a proof based style.
Good choices would be either "how to prove it" or "the book of
proof". Once you have that under your belt, there are all kinds of
subjects more advanced than calculus that actually don't require
any calculus that you will be able to self study. So this is the plan
with the most long term payoff.

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/r/cheatatmathhomework and /r/learnmath,
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Using LaTeX

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[] A lloran 4 points 6 m onths ago

To view LaTeX on reddit, install one of the


following:

Stewart's is the best for training for the BC Calculus exam.


Spivak's is the best for learning math. Apostol's is the best
classical text.

MathJax Greasemonkey userscript


TeXtheWorld Chrome extension
TeXtheWorld Greasemonkey userscript

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[; e^{\pi i} + 1 = 0 ;]
Post the equation above like this:

[] ba1018 2 points 6 m onths ago

`[; e^{\pi i}+1=0 ;]`

Probably the best answer here without denigrating any of the You may need to add four spaces before or put
backticks around math fragments.
three.
Sometimes, you're going to need to do a ridiculous
calculation. Stewart, while weak on theory, has plenty of
great exercises for tricky/involved computation.

Using Superscripts and Subscripts

That said, I got a better feel for calculus from Spivak.

x*_sub_`sup`* makes xsub

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x*_sub_* makes xsub


x*`sup`* and x^(sup) both make xsup
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x*`sup`_sub_* makes x sup sub

[] Beautiful_Idealism 7 points 6 m onths ago

All three of them will be terrible for the goal of learning calc BC.
From an objective standpoint, Spivak and Apostol are at too high
of a level and Stewart is just a bad book all around.
Look for a different subject.
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[] rhlewis Alge bra

3 points 6 m onths ago

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I disagree. Stewart is a very good book for Calc I-II. Very few
Tools
students have the maturity to read Spivak. Using Stewart will
/r/mathematica
help them get the maturity.
/r/matlab
/r/sagemath

As for price, you can easily buy earlier editions for < $20.
(There is, of course, no essential difference between the sixth Related fields
/r/actuary
and seventh editions.)
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[] Beautiful_Idealism 8 points 6 m onths ago

Very few students have the maturity to read Spivak.


I never suggested Spivak.

/r/algorithms
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a com m unity for 7 ye ars

Using Stewart will help them get the maturity.


No. Stewart's book is about rote memorization and
learning how to take a derivative without actually
understanding how to take a derivative.
It is an engineering book. No one who wants to "learn
math" should ever use it.
Have you ever taken a good look at a Calculus I-II book
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or are you just speaking from experience with Stewart?


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[] rhlewis Alge bra

2 points 6 m onths ago

Stewart's book is about rote memorization


It's easy to use it for better instruction than that.
are you just speaking from experience with
Stewart?
I've used at least a dozen calculus texts in my career.
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[] Beautiful_Idealism 1 point 6 m onths ago

Sure. If you are a calculus teacher you are free to


use Stewart as a source of problems, not unlike a
Schaum's guide to calculus.

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With this, there would ostensibly be a set of


lectures, course notes, or even another textbook
to accompany the course. The intuition would
come from some of these alternate sources while
the homework/etc. comes from Stewart. That is
perfectly fine.
In the realm of self study, there is no set of
lectures, course notes or other textbooks that
come with Stewart.
Because Stewart should not be used for anything
other than repetitive practice problems, I do not
consider it to be a good mathematics textbook. It
is fine for the Calculus I, II, III courses which cater
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is fine for the Calculus I, II, III courses which cater


to engineers and physicists but from a pure
mathematical perspective, there are better
options.
This is why I put Stewart on the level of Schaum's
guides and why I think that someone looking to
learn mathematics (especially via self study) should
always use another source. Perhaps online lectures
+ Stewart but never just Stewart alone.
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[] buddyboys [S] 2 points 6 m onths ago

They use Stewart at my school for the class...


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[] UniversalSnip 1 point 6 m onths ago

I'm sorry :/
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[] The_bamboo 1 point 6 m onths ago

I'm at university in the US. It's a big state school and I'm a math major now taking calc one. The
school uses Stewart. What text should I be using.
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[] UniversalSnip 3 points 6 m onths ago

Stewart is pretty much the same as any other poorly written text on crank and grind calculus.
I don't mean to imply it's going to ruin your brain.
Since you are a math major, form a study group at your school for proof work and spivak
and you'll be in good shape. I can't recommend some random person tackle it on their own
but in a group it will be much more doable.
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[] rushingman 1 point 6 m onths ago

I prefer Apostol because he starts with integration. I think this is more natural, but it's the
book I used in high school so I'm a little biased. It also seems a lot closer in "style" to other
math textbooks.
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[] rushingman 1 point 6 m onths ago

I prefer Apostol because he starts with integration. I think this is more natural, but it's the book I
used in high school so I'm a little biased. To be clear it was the book we used in HS, but I happened
to use it for self-study. It also seems a lot closer in "style" to other math textbooks.
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[] Beautiful_Idealism -1 points 6 m onths ago

ok
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[] A lmostNever 3 points 6 m onths ago

If Stewart were bad, why did I need to pay $230 for it?
No, seriously, why am I supposed to pay $230 for a semester-long paperweight...
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[] UniversalSnip 12 points 6 m onths ago

you paid $230 bucks for it because you weren't smart enough to avoid doing so.
I mean seriously, what the hell were you thinking.
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[] A lmostNever 4 points 6 m onths ago

Haha, it's worth noting I didn't actually buy it! I quoted the Amazon sticker price, but for the
actual class I torrented a .pdf of the book.
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[] thedboy 1 point 6 m onths ago*

Did you beg people to sell it to you at that price? I'm amazed you even found someone selling it that
expensively.
Edit: Never mind, it apparently costs that much on Amazon. Seems slightly overpriced.
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[] A lmostNever 2 points 6 m onths ago

Haha it was required for my Calc classes, but I never actually bought a hard copy... I guess
enough people are willing to pay $230 that they'll keep that as the sticker price, though.
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[] SorrowOverlord 2 points 6 m onths ago

if ap calc bc is high school level those books are way too advanced. Also a bitch to work through imo.
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[] wintermute93 2 points 6 m onths ago

I see lots of posts saying that Stewart is the worst book ever written, and some posts saying that
Spivak/Apostol are too high-level for a first introduction to calculus. I agree with the latter, that seems clear.
I'm not sure I see where the Stewart hate is coming from. I learned calculus out of Stewart, and thought it
was fine. Admittedly, I've never taught calculus out of it, or really looked at it at all in the last 8 years so
or... What's so bad about it?
More importantly, not a single response so far actually suggests a good intro-level text. Briggs/Cochran and
Stewart are the ones I see being used everywhere. Is Briggs/Cochran any better, or is that bad too? What
would people actually recommend if they had to name an actual textbook (as opposed to self-guided study
via various free online sources)?
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[] docmedic 1 point 6 m onths ago*

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Use Stewart (or any similar thick calculus text, I like Edwards and Penney personally since it cuts a lot of the
fluff out). People here are not interested in the AP exam, but learning the theoretical side of math rather
than the practical side. You will be expected to know practical calculus in other classes (sciences, college
math courses, etc.), so it's not as useless of a skill people are making it out to be. You can also learn the
theory side of calculus later, of which is the standard math curriculum, whereas learning theoretical calculus
now and calculus problem solving later would be nonstandard.
Supplement Stewart with a book like Calculus by Frank Morgan, How to Ace Calculus the Streetwise Guide by
Adams, and/or an AP prep book since calculus bricks can get rather boring. The biggest challenge to selfstudy is pacing, so look online for some (from an accredited/respectable/legit university) professor's online
syllabus (pdf) using the same textbook as you, and try to follow that pacing or faster. Those professors
may have problem sets posted (about 5-10 per lesson) that come from the book, so do those. If you find
yourself not sure on the material, just do more problems from the same section until you do (it also helps
to try to do the example and proofs in the text, though proofs are more for understanding rather than for
material on the AP test).
Taking the AP exam is not a bad plan. It's what expected of you at most colleges (I come from a school with
a very strong, prestigious math program, and they drop you in multivariable calculus expecting you to be
able to do pages of integral calculations with ease; they don't expect you to know Spivak and will never
touch that book, since you'll gradually be introduced to theory in later math courses regardless). It also
puts you on an even playing field with other entering college students, both application wise and ability wise.
Extra: If you want a hint at the theory side of calculus, carefully read through the proofs in your calculus
text (Stewart, Larson, Edwards and Penney, whichever), to the point that you can recreate them, and look
at why they impose certain conditions and the limitations of their argument. Another easy supplementary
book that focuses on theory is Serge Lang's Calculus (at least it's easier than Spivak and Apostol). The
toughest part is just a logic/language barrier: the epsilon/delta definition of a limit sounds imposing and
seems to state something rather mundane in a roundabout way, but look closely at how careful and
rigorous the author is being, and think, if I were to be that precise in language, how would I define the same
idea? Once you understand that, and use that definition, then the other definitions/proofs won't be that
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hard.
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[] zN8 1 point 6 m onths ago

If you're just gonna take BC just use Khan Academy really, it won't be difficult assuming you have a
competent teacher.
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[] scottfarrar 2 points 6 m onths ago

Kjan academy will essentially be a less complete less accurate, and yet longer time investment version of
Stewart.
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[] buddyboys [S] 1 point 6 m onths ago

I agree, I use Khan Academy extensively as is, but I also want to practice over the summer and keep my
skills up so I don't come back to school catatonic.
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[] misplaced_my_pants 1 point 6 m onths ago

Check out MIT OCW Scholar.


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