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Calculus Made Easy

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  589 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Calculus Made Easy has long been the most popular calculus primer, and this major revision of the classic math text makes the subject at hand still more comprehensible to readers of all levels. With a new introduction, three new chapters, modernized language and methods throughout, and an appendix of challenging and enjoyable practice problems, Calculus Made Easy has been ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published March 18th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1910)
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May 29, 2008 Isaac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's still not that easy, but - as Martin Gardner explains in the introduction - this book still outshines any textbook in terms of accessibility and simplicity. 700 pages of dense, graphics filled problem sets can make a subject seem so intimidating that no one will ever want to touch it. I know I didn't. No wonder many people still look at math students as possessing a form of 'genius' that is both threatening and alienating at the same time. This book was written for school kids back in 1910 ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Thompson.

Mad props for being the first calculus text I didn't hate, and actually being fun. I really got a feel for how important it was for Thompson to remove the intimidation from calculus. The style is conversational, even breezy. What one fool can do, another can. The invective against obscurantism in mathematics is also spot on.

But let's be honest: the coverage is extremely rudimentary, and since there's no analytical treatment, the path to generalization to more complex problems is far
Rod Jr.
Aug 15, 2011 Rod Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all the math books I've read, this one is by far the most exciting. Mr. Thompson was both irreverent and witty in his development of the subject.

Prior to this book, I had attempted to wade through a couple of college entry-level calculus textbooks, but found the style of both authors to be obtuse and obfuscating. They may have known their subject, but this math whiz (straight "A's" in high school through Advanced Algebra & Trig) found those other authors' abilities to communicate far less
Jan 20, 2014 Roger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book that I skimmed through, rather than thoroughly digested, not least because much of each chapter consists of worked examples and exercises which I didn't attempt. I studied calculus at school, and used it occasionally at university, but I've not needed it since so this was a trip down memory lane. I was attracted to this book by its title, which struck me as unusual for 1914, when my edition was published, and its contents didn't disappoint. The author does indeed present the subj ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Ruchita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This isn't all the other calculus books out there. In fact, this is a very old book (early 20th century) and it's surprising how accessible it is (I would say, more than today's books). The writer is witty and sympathetic at all times (the first chapter is called 'To Deliver You From Preliminary Terrors').
Dec 23, 2011 Peter is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mathematics, tomato
You can download a PDF of the 1914 edition at and you may in fact want to do that.

The book is a fun, cheap, and somewhat dated way to get into calculus. It's certainly not "rigorous" by a long shot, but it does what it sets out to do: show newbies how it's done instead of scaring them away with either lingo or mass. The book is not completely self-contained however, you'll need a little background in trigonometry and algebra (exponents, binomial theorem, long/polynomial
Jonathan Peto
Aug 07, 2011 Jonathan Peto rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, math
I reread the text a few times and worked out most of the problems and feel I now understand calculus well enough to appreciate its significance and genius. I've worked my way through another calculus text because of it and am able to understand discussions about aspects of calculus in other math books as well.

Wish I had this book when I was a high school student. I definitely plan to use it with my children when they are older.
Jun 13, 2010 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I still don't understand calculus I really enjoyed reading this book. It's fun when someone loves the subject so much. The idea of infinitesimals is much more intuitive to me than limits as well. It made me think of all the abstractions which were equally 'correct' that lost out over the years.
Mar 07, 2008 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
given that i am a science nerd you dont have to be to take on this book. calculus is a beautiful theory that doesnt involve interpretation....awww life made simple. its odd in a sense that math can make more sense when numbers with finite value become letters that can reach infinity. ironic? see for yourself. plus it will make you feel smarter!
Jul 30, 2012 Charlie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult rating a text book. I do know that I will buy this book for all my children when they are taking Calculus. Though it was written in 1910, it is amazingly understandable. One thing I enjoyed about working my way through this book was that the exercises given at the end of the chapters was exceedingly difficult.
Aug 26, 2013 Allyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book got me through calculus after I slept through the first 5 weeks and realized I didn't know what was going on anymore. It's a clear, simple but practical look at calculus and without it I probably would have became a liberal arts major.
Apr 05, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Before there was the beloved Martin Gardner, there was Sylvanus P Thompson. The Hitchhikers Guide... may have had DON'T PANIC in large friendly letters, but the whole title of this book is a friendly invitation to proceed into the wonderful world of the Calculus. It is what comes after a few introductory chapters by Gardner that really made me smile:

"What one fool can do, another can. --Ancient Simian proverb"

This is not a rigorous and elegant text on the theory and practice, it is a down and
Jul 08, 2015 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommended to A level students

Basically it has a very similar scope but with a few extra chapters.

The difference between this book and "normal" modern textbooks is that normal textbooks don't explain how and why things work, to make the subject look more impressive like a magician who doesn't explain his tricks, thus make the writers seem cleverer. (same with teachers) This book however fully explains why the ideas make sense, to give you the best chance of understanding them. On the fa
Wm Pope
Jun 08, 2013 Wm Pope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been doing some reading that requires brushing up on my integration. Integration is one of those skills that goes to rust quickly if you don't use it. Could not find my old Thomas's Calculus book and current calculus textbooks turned out to cost in the order of $300 (ouch).

Got a copy of Calculus Made Easy. It turned out to not be at all what I'm looking for yet I am rating it 5 stars!

If you want to learn calculus read this book first.

If you ever wondered what calculus was about find a co
Arun Mahendrakar
Oct 15, 2014 Arun Mahendrakar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a software developer and have had my interests in Mathematics for quite some time now. But my knowledge about Calculus was very limited. Hence I picked up this book.

The book has real simple language and of course since this a book about an advanced concept, the reader is expected to have some background in Mathematics.

The author provides some examples practicing which gets the concepts ingrained in the readers' mind. I'll be honest, I didn't solve most of the problems (that was not my intent
William Schram
This book introduces the concepts of The Calculus in a different way. This method of Thompson skips the idea of limits and instead focuses more on some tricks that one can use to ease into The Calculus. It includes a number of problems to do and covers most of the basics of differential and integral Calculus. I enjoyed it, but I didn't have any need to go into any real depth so I skimmed over the problems, which probably lowered my understanding. However, I have had Calculus in a classroom setti ...more
Jul 12, 2008 Martha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure if this is the same edition as the one I have (3rd ed., paperback). No matter - this book is a work of art. From the first chapter - "To Deliver You from the Preliminary Terrors" for those who wish they could have stuck it out back in high school "if only", to the second chapter - "On Different Degrees of Smallness" for those who may be math whizzes but would like to revisit the foundations of calculus in a new light (perhaps to teach it to someone else), to the many subsequent cha ...more
Dec 14, 2014 Clintweathers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd forgotten until recently how much I love this book.

Thompson's thesis is simple: "Any dolt can do this, so get to it, dolt."

This new edition uses a much easier-to-read typeface and less Anglocentric language/measures.

It also introduces some other stuff at the end that wasn't in the first edition.

In the same way every culinary student should have a copy of Barrons Food Lovers Companion, every math student should have a copy of this book with them in their bag.

And a Mars Staedtler Plastic.
Alex Railean
Dec 23, 2015 Alex Railean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, math
The book was very helpful and it filled the gaps left in my education since high school times. The author's explanations are clear, though I admit that at times I failed to follow the logic without re-reading multiple times and trying out various interpretations on paper.

By the way, reading this without solving the provided exercises will reduce the book's utility to a minimum. If you plan to read this without a pen and paper by your side, don't bother.
Jan 06, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have skipped the exercises. But the book explains lot of things in simple and elegant way. A must have for high school students and parents or teachers who wish to teach children calculus. About this particular edition, print quality is poor. Worst paper quality. Also they had put a copyright notice. Stupid! The book is out of copyright and available in project Gutenberg. Please stay away from this edition.
Chris Gager
Not easy enough for me. An unhappy memory amidst many from the fall of 1964 at Yale. 8 AM even on Saturdays. This book is picked to represent that class which I totally flunked since I quit going early on. I'd done pretty well in math up to that point but Calculus seemed like Martian to me. The bad old days... Date is approximate.
Dave Maddock
Sep 22, 2015 Dave Maddock rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
While I like the approach (I much prefer infinitesimals to limits, for example), I don't think this can stand alone as the sole method of calculus instruction. There are too many things taken for granted, especially in the problem sets which draw from physics. It is very useful as a refresher or supplement to a more thorough book.
Jan 25, 2014 Dipesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybuddy
Recommended to Dipesh by: Nobody
Readers will surely realise this book and that in many respects the calculus is an art rather than science. an art only to be acquired , as all other arts are, by practice. :D

You can download a PDF of the 1914 edition at and you may in fact want to do that.
Jan 18, 2014 Arron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: math
Available for free on project Gutenberg as a beautifully typeset PDF, this amazing little book presents the most fundamental ideas of the calculus in a surprisingly approachable way. It's certainly light on rigor, but for an introductory primer,that's not such a terrible thing.
Mar 04, 2007 Farrokh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers and student of calculus
Shelves: mathematics
Calculus made easy is an especial calculus book. It has really good example and really good explaining. It illustrates calculus by its visual example and some little jokes in them. I suggest this book to who likes calculus and want to learn it out of the boring difficult explanations.
Oct 04, 2014 Curt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the approach, and after struggling with the 3M Cloud reader for several chapters I'm determined to finish it in hard copy. The ebook reader, however, makes it difficult to read the examples and to switch between exercises and solutions. 3M and Adobe should be ashamed.
Brendan  McAuliffe
Didn't get very far with this ( Understood the prolouge and that was about it ) Not ready for calculus easy or not I guess
Mar 01, 2008 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first saw this book, I thought that one might as well call a book "Levitation Made Easy". My judgement of the cover notwithstanding, Thompson does manage to demystify an intimidating topic.
Henk Poley
Apr 16, 2014 Henk Poley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that smoothly takes you through the paces of calculus. Doesn't try to skip parts and paint them in later. Recommended reading if your uni textbook is a bit iffy.
Jan 20, 2009 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a math book, but it is very well written and easy to read. I enjoy fiddling with it, as a purely mental exercise.
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Silvanus Phillips Thompson FRS was a professor of physics at the City and Guilds Technical College in Finsbury, England. He was known for his work as an electrical engineer and as an author.

Thompson is one of the individuals represented on the Engineers Walk in Bristol, England.

Thompson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1891 and was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Scien
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