Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us

Overview

Calculus. For some of us, the word conjures up memories of ten-pound textbooks and visions of tedious abstract equations. And yet, in reality, calculus is fun, accessible, and surrounds us everywhere we go. In Everyday Calculus, Oscar Fernandez shows us how to see the math in our coffee, on the highway, and even in the night sky.

Fernandez uses our everyday experiences to skillfully reveal the hidden calculus behind a typical day's events. He guides us through how math naturally...

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Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us

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Overview

Calculus. For some of us, the word conjures up memories of ten-pound textbooks and visions of tedious abstract equations. And yet, in reality, calculus is fun, accessible, and surrounds us everywhere we go. In Everyday Calculus, Oscar Fernandez shows us how to see the math in our coffee, on the highway, and even in the night sky.

Fernandez uses our everyday experiences to skillfully reveal the hidden calculus behind a typical day's events. He guides us through how math naturally emerges from simple observations--how hot coffee cools down, for example--and in discussions of over fifty familiar events and activities. Fernandez demonstrates that calculus can be used to explore practically any aspect of our lives, including the most effective number of hours to sleep and the fastest route to get to work. He also shows that calculus can be both useful--determining which seat at the theater leads to the best viewing experience, for instance--and fascinating--exploring topics such as time travel and the age of the universe. Throughout, Fernandez presents straightforward concepts, and no prior mathematical knowledge is required. For advanced math fans, the mathematical derivations are included in the appendixes.

Whether you're new to mathematics or already a curious math enthusiast, Everyday Calculus invites you to spend a day discovering the calculus all around you. The book will convince even die-hard skeptics to view this area of math in a whole new way.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/03/2014
For every befuddled math student who’s ever sat in class and thought, “When am I ever going to use this?” Fernandez, assistant professor of mathematics at Wellesley College, gleefully reveals the truth: the world really does run on math. He takes a day-in-the-life approach to his subject: getting out of bed introduces trigonometry and how it can be used to describe and predict sleep cycles, while water running from a faucet allows him to address gravity and how its influence shapes motion into parabolic curves. The morning news leads to derivatives and how they can chart unemployment rates and population growth. A stray thought during a morning meeting stirs up the calculus of catching cold. Whether describing how biology uses math to design more efficient organs and body structures or the best way to figure out when to overhaul a subway car, Fernandez keeps the tone light, as entertaining as it is informative. The book will speak most strongly to readers with some experience in trigonometry and basic calculus, but it’s also accessible to those willing to put in a little extra effort. Either way, Fernandez’s witty, delightful approach makes for a winning introduction to the wonderland of math behind the scenes of everyday life. Illus. (May)
From the Publisher

"For every befuddled math student who's ever sat in class and thought, 'When am I ever going to use this?' Fernandez, assistant professor of mathematics at Wellesley College, gleefully reveals the truth: the world really does run on math. . . . Whether describing how biology uses math to design more efficient organs and body structures or the best way to figure out when to overhaul a subway car, Fernandez keeps the tone light, as entertaining as it is informative. The book will speak most strongly to readers with some experience in trigonometry and basic calculus, but it's also accessible to those willing to put in a little extra effort. Either way, Fernandez's witty, delightful approach makes for a winning introduction to the wonderland of math behind the scenes of everyday life."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The author earnestly and excitedly seeks to make the principles of calculus near and natural, without the intimidation of a five-pound textbook dense with equations. . . . Fernandez invites the reader along on this work day and telegraphs an enthusiasm for seeing calculus, with hints of differential equations, presented to him. This excitement will communicate itself to the math enthusiast becoming acquainted with calculus through the author's style, which is both lively and confident."--Tom Schulte, MAA Reviews

"Written in a bright conversational tone, this book wonderfully integrates calculus into everyday life."--Devorah Bennu, GrrlScientist, The Guardian

"Professor Fernandez is a delightfully quirky writer and his book Everyday Calculus is lighthearted and compelling, connecting mathematics to daily life. . . . Everyday Calculus will not only be found to be understandable by non-mathematicians but will also be found to be quite entertaining. Indeed, not everyone considers the calculus going on inside Tandoori ovens, and they should."--Robert Schaefer, New York Journal of Books

"Written in a bright conversational tone, this book wonderfully integrates calculus into everyday life."--GrrrlScientist

"[T]he book is perfect for a reader who really wants to know what mathematics are governing our lives and who wants to learn and understand or polish up his rusty knowledge of these mathematics."--A. Bultheel, European Mathematical Society

"Everyday Calculus is a triumph in the pursuit of the lofty goal of comprehending the world. Fernandez has touched upon a sensitive nerve, not just because mathematics makes most people cringe, but because the subject has allowed the passage of great things from some of the greatest minds ever to wander within the twentieth century. Oscar Fernandez is as bold as Alfred S. Posementier in his quest to deliver mathematical thinking as nature's gift to the thinking person."--D. Wayne Dworsky, San Francisco Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691157559
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/13/2014
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 134,940
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Oscar E. Fernandez is assistant professor of mathematics at Wellesley College.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Calculus Topics Discussed by Chapter xi
CHAPTER 1 Wake Up and Smell the Functions 1
What's Trig Got to Do with Your Morning? 2
How a Rational Function Defeated Thomas Edison, and Why Induction Powers the World 5
The Logarithms Hidden in the Air 10
The Frequency of Trig Functions 14
Galileo's Parabolic Thinking 17
CHAPTER 2 Breakfast at Newton's 21
Introducing Calculus, the CNBC Way 21
Coffee Has Its Limits 25
A Multivitamin a Day Keeps the Doctor Away 30
Derivatives Are about Change 34
CHAPTER 3 Driven by Derivatives 35
Why Do We Survive Rainy Days? 36
Politics in Derivatives, or Derivatives in Politics? 39
What the Unemployment Rate Teaches Us about the Curvature of Graphs 41
America's Ballooning Population 44
Feeling Derivatives 46
The Calculus of Time Travel 47
CHAPTER 4 Connected by Calculus 51
E-Mails, Texts, Tweets, Ah! 51
The Calculus of Colds 53
What Does Sustainability Have to Do with Catching a Cold? 56
What Does Your Retirement Income Have to Do with Traffic? 58
The Calculus of the Sweet Tooth 61
CHAPTER 5 Take a Derivative and You'll Feel Better 65
I "Heart" Differentials 65
How Life (and Nature) Uses Calculus 67
The Costly Downside of Calculus 73
The Optimal Drive Back Home 75
Catching Speeders Efficiently with Calculus 77
CHAPTER 6 Adding Things Up, the Calculus Way 81
The Little Engine That Could . . . Integrate 82
The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus 90
Using Integrals to Estimate Wait Times 93
CHAPTER 7 Derivatives Integrals: The Dream Team 97
Integration at Work-Tandoori Chicken 98
Finding the Best Seat in the House 101
Keeping the T Running with Calculus 104
Look Up to Look Back in Time 108
The Ultimate Fate of the Universe 109
The Age of the Universe 113
Epilogue 116
Appendix A Functions and Graphs 119
Appendices 1-7 125
Notes 147
Index 149

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