A Tour of the Calculus

A Tour of the Calculus

4.2 8
by David Berlinski
     
 

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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

Overview

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 on the theme of continuity. Charts and graphs throughout.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Berlinski (Black Mischief: The Mechanics of Modern Science, LJ 2/15/86) presents an unconventional work on the foundations of calculus. It is in part an informal history of the subject, the author inrerweaves the historical fragments with expository sections that explain the concepts from a modern viewpoint. He gives special attention (very appropriately) to the concept of limits and to several of the fundamental theorems that underpin calculus. He also shows how differential calculus deals with rates of change and how integral calculus works to determine areas under curves. Writing in a breezingly informal style, the author includes a plethora of humorous asides as well as a number of clearly fictitious anecdotes. At times his prose gets a bit too ripe, but the overall effect is to make the book quite readable. The work should be especially useful for providing perspective to college and advanced high school students currently learning calculus. Recommended for all public and college libraries.-Jack W. Weigel, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
Gilbert Taylor
Even those who flailed through calculus class sense the power and perfection of that branch of mathematics, and Berlinski rekindles the interest of lapsed students in this pleasing excursion through graphs and equations. Berlinski's goal is to explain the mystery of motion and the area and volume of irregular shapes, issues that gave rise to Leibnitz and Newton's invention of calculus. He makes his points one concept at a time, but not so dryly as asking and answering, "What is a function?" No, with dashes of biography or images of his walking around old Prague (to illustrate continuity), Berlinski tangibly grounds the abstract notions, so that attentive readers can ease into and grasp the several full-blown proofs he sets forth, as of the mean-value theorem. Though the math-shy won't necessarily jump to the blackboard to begin differentiating and integrating polynomial equations, Berlinski's animated presentation should tempt them to sit forward and appreciate the elegance of calculus--and perhaps banish recollections of its exam-time terrors.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307789730
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/27/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
599,030
File size:
5 MB

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Tour of the Calculus 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
...read this book! Undoubtedly the best book on mathematics I've read. Hugely entertaining in its whimsical style. Read it if you want to know exactly WHY you are studying calculus.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is for ANYONE interested in math. I am 14 and I LOVED this book. Now I am looking for some real calculus textbooks. A must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read, and re-read 'A Tour of the Calculus' several times; each time gleaning something new are more subtle than the last. Berlinski has extracted and distilled the essence of the alculus, the continuum, and indeed that of 'real' numbers and functions. I was inspired by this book to revisit elementary analytic functions, this time from an elevated view. How function approximation leads to orthogonal function spaces to fourier series/transform (a special case) to wavelet transforms (the true general case). An outstanding work by Berlinski; at times I laughed out loud when reading the anectdotes, especial about the waiter in Prague - 'nicht da'. Doesn't exist... I heartily recommend 'A Tour of the Calculus'; if you don't find it enlightening and entertaining, you're probably a college professor at a public university :o).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jorufo More than 1 year ago
I LOVE math. But this book was more prose than interesting content.
Hlance50 More than 1 year ago
As an old but devoted student of mathematics and science, I was easily drawn to this book by title and synopsis. Neither hinted at what a master of language, of storytelling, of visual creation Mr. Berlinski is. In addition to a wonderful tour, a revisiting of the calculus I enjoyed in my youth, he provided the gift of pleasurable excursions in history, biography, and philosophy. I was brokenhearted when the last page was turned.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In college thirty years ago, I took a notorious 'gut' course, 'math for poets'. I never thought I would end up reading a book about math written BY a poet...Berlinski is absolutely fabulous, explaining the relationship between calculus and real world applications with great literacy and humor. Make no mistake - this book is NOT a simplification of calculus (I doubt such a thing would be possible). Rather, it is, as its title states, a 'tour', a fanciful, insightful, reasonably accessible introduction to calculus and an appreciation of its power and beauty. And that beauty is what this book is all about.