14
A Note to the Student Taking Calculus
Concurrently
Learning calculus and physics concurrently is an excellent idea — it’s not a coincidence that the inventor of
calculus, Isaac Newton, also discovered the laws of motion! If you are worried about taking these two demanding
courses at the same time, let me reassure you. I think you will find that physics helps you with calculus while
calculus deepens and enhances your experience of physics. This book is designed to be used in either an algebra-
based physics course or a calculus-based physics course that has calculus as a corequisite. This note is addressed to
students in the latter type of course.
It has been said that critics discuss art with each other, but artists talk about brushes. Art needs both a “why”
and a “how,” concepts as well as technique. Just as it is easier to enjoy an oil painting than to produce one, it is
easier to understand the concepts of calculus than to learn the techniques of calculus. This book will generally
teach you the concepts of calculus a few weeks before you learn them in your math class, but it does not discuss the
techniques of calculus at all. There will thus be a delay of a few weeks between the time when a calculus application
is first pointed out in this book and the first occurrence of a homework problem that requires the relevant tech-
nique. The following outline shows a typical first-semester calculus curriculum side-by-side with the list of topics
covered in this book, to give you a rough idea of what calculus your physics instructor might expect you to know
at a given point in the semester. The sequence of the calculus topics is the one followed by Calculus of a Single
Variable, 2nd ed., by Swokowski, Olinick, and Pence.
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