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# A Tour of the Calculus

In its largest aspect, the calculus functions as a celestial measuring tape, able to order the infinite expanse of the universe. Time and space are given names, points, and limits; seemingly intractable problems of motion, growth, and form are reduced to answerable questions. Calculus was humanity's first attempt to represent the world and perhaps its greatest meditation o
...more

Hardcover, 331 pages

Published
January 13th 1996
by Pantheon Books
(first published 1995)

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## Community Reviews

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2,262)

Berlinski's writing does more to obfuscate than clarify, and wearies rather than enlightens the reader. Understanding mathematics requires selectivity and focus. Berlinski demonstrates that writing about it requires neither. Perhaps the most worthless, overwrought book I've ever suffered through.

1. David Berlinski has read more books than you.

2. David Berlinski is well regarded among mathematicians.

3. The motivations and concepts that support calculus as a foundational achievement of modern thought.

Let me offer this praise: Berlinski faithfully and artfully expresses what almost every math teacher misses; The motivation for creating calculus was to understand a world of vary ...more

I know a good deal of the underpinnings of calculus, and while yes, I may now k ...more

Sep 17, 2008
Valerie
rated it
it was amazing
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
math,
cypresslibrary

This is a great addition to any study of the calculus. I used it as part of the precalc class one year, and all the students asked to keep their copies. (Granted, it was a small class.)

Apr 09, 2008
Jesse Broussard
rated it
did not like it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
utter-tripe

Some enjoyable prose, but mostly a cheap script writer attempting to wax mathematical without waxing intelligent.

As you probably discovered in school, even simple equations with two unknowns can be difficult. And at a higher level of difficulty, 5th degree polynomials can't be solved by anyone. Today the lim ...more

Nov 20, 2011
GS Nathan
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
favorites,
my-library

David Berlinski starts the book saying that he would like to feel that that the reader says, "Yes, that's it, now I understand", when he or she finishes reading the book. And, sir, atleast this particular reader can report that you have succeeded.

Calculus and the concepts behind it have always been the stuff that even people formally educated in its methods find difficult to fully comprehend or explain. Yes, it works. Yes, it is very useful to solve real life issues. But some parts make sense wh ...more

Calculus and the concepts behind it have always been the stuff that even people formally educated in its methods find difficult to fully comprehend or explain. Yes, it works. Yes, it is very useful to solve real life issues. But some parts make sense wh ...more

This book changed that completely. It showed me, in good prose, the underlying theories and concepts ...more

Dec 12, 2009
Douglas Weathers
rated it
really liked it
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
math,
nonfiction

This book wants to be the calculus in layman's terms, but Berlinski's prose is more complicated than a textbook would be. Even though this isn't bad, I feel like it makes the book more difficult to get through than it needs to be. As complicated as his flowery, ornate writing is, Berlinski still writes well, and offers an interesting look at beginner's calculus.

This is the second book of Berlinski's books that I have read. His style, I sense, will not appeal to everyone. His prose can approach the florid at times, and his more literary approach to investigating and explaining mathematics may not sit well with some. Still, there is something refreshing in reading a book on calculus that ...more

That annoys me, because I've long regretted not learning my math better. I was

*very*good at math in my youth—making it to calculus as a sophomore in high school. Unfortunately for my progress beyond that point, I naturally think like an engineer and quickly get frustrated at what seem (to me) to be purely academic abstractions. If ...more

I would really recommend the book for people who are interested in knowing the history behind calculus, but I don't think it's a great read for people that already KNOW calculus. For example I thought it was a bit irritating towards the integral section when he discusses simple integrals. He tends to only write "integral of f(x)" rather than "integral of f(x) times dx)" or whatever variable he happens to use. While that isn't q ...more

Stripped of all the rubbish which is passed off as "poetry", the book would have been 1/4 th its length, am article, which had a better place in the Saturday edition of a tabloid - so publis ...more

It starts from the very basic (defining a point, a line, numbers) and of course leads up to plenty of in-depth calculus discussion/philosophizing. It's from 1995, I found it in ...more

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David Berlinski is a senior fellow in the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

Recent articles by Berlinski have been prominently featured in Commentary, Forbes ASAP, and the Boston Review. Two of his articles, “On the Origins of the Mind” (November 2004) and “What Brings a World into Being” (March 2001), have been anthologized in The Best American Science Writing 2005, edited by A ...more

More about David Berlinski...
Recent articles by Berlinski have been prominently featured in Commentary, Forbes ASAP, and the Boston Review. Two of his articles, “On the Origins of the Mind” (November 2004) and “What Brings a World into Being” (March 2001), have been anthologized in The Best American Science Writing 2005, edited by A ...more

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