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Calculus Made Easy

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  420 ratings  ·  37 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1910)
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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
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.
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
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').
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
Dec 23, 2011 Peter is currently reading it
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
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
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
Jonathan Peto
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.
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.
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.
Arun Mahendrakar
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
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.
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.
Wm Pope
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
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
Jan 25, 2014 Dipesh rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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
Henk Poley
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.
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!
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.
Mar 04, 2007 Farrokh rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
Jan 18, 2014 Arron rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
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.
My friend was right. This is the clearest explanation of calculus I have seen. When I do my biennial reviews of calculus, it will be with Thompson's gem by my side.
Roberto Zanasi
Come fare analisi matematica senza utilizzare i limiti: ovvero tutto quello che ci hanno detto di non fare a scuola pena pesanti insufficienze...
Feb 19, 2013 Dave rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: math
This book is awesome! It is short, but the explanations are excellent. This book really does makes basic calculus seem easy.
Didn't get very far with this ( Understood the prolouge and that was about it ) Not ready for calculus easy or not I guess
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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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