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Calculus Made Easy

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  734 Ratings  ·  54 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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Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 29, 2013 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 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
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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').
Wm Pope
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Maxwell Pollack
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty good. The author doesn't seem to have a consistent audience in mind. He can't decide what level of reader he's teaching.
Dec 21, 2011 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
Arun Mahendrakar
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jonathan Peto
Aug 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math, nonfiction
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.
Jan 04, 2016 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.
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jun 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jason Rubenstein
Aug 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
If you want to learn calc, or need a refresher, this book is indispensable.
Chai Zheng Xin
Jun 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Good introduction book to the concepts of calculus. If you are looking for a refresher to high school level calculus or a introductory read, this is the book for you. However, if you want an exhaustive reference book or a textbook suitable for college level engineering or mathematics, there are better books out there because this book lacks rigour and does not dive into deeper, more advanced topics and applications of calculus.

Overall, it serves my intended purpose of refreshing myself and solid
Arnaud Wolff
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nice book, often funny, and the concepts are explained very clearly.

Of course, as the title presumes, this is a very short introduction to the basics of calculus (differentiating and integrating), and the book clearly has its limits. But for someone that wants to be cleared from the misconceptions that we can have regarding calculus, this book is useful.

"What one fool can do, another can".

Oleksandr Bilyk
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
10 years later after university it is difficult to remind how to do all this stuff. Honestly, personally, i may solve only basic things from all chapters. I'm happy to have this legendary book as my first Math book read from cover to cover.
Ethan Hulbert
Best math book I've ever read. I learned calc in high school and hated it. Learned it again in college and hated it. Turns out I just hated how it was taught to me. This book fixed that and was a ton of fun to read.
Dan Perik
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Presented the concepts quite simply and readably. The choices for initial examples and exercises were sometimes more complex than they needed to be, bringing in complexities unrelated to what was being taught. But all in all was a helpful book.
Ellen Kock
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Distills calculus down to its essence in a beautiful way. Makes me remember why I loved studying calculus. How making that jump from learning trigonometry and algebra to learning calculus is a profound experience.
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
Anand Mandapati
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This must be the third or fourth time I've read this book. The first was on the recommendation of Martin Gardner in Scientific American. Once I got to my high school calculus class, I was considered a genius in the subject (admittedly, I was a math geek). Little did people know that I had just cheated by reading the irreverent and subversive teachings of Silvanus P. Thompson. This text makes calculus seem so easy and it still does so after every reading. It really is so much easier to follow Tho ...more
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: math, science
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.
Roberto Rigolin F Lopes
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We are in 1910, Thompson is lecturing us on Calculus. His is witty and fun, perhaps the best math teacher we ever had. But, hey, he is just warming up protecting us from the TERRORS of notation and definitions. Brillant! Then he goes further showing us how Calculus is damn simple. Remember, he would emphasize, many many fools can do these calculations as well! Of course he is also challenging us all the time; let us be witty like him.
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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
More about Silvanus Phillips Thompson

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