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Math Help - Calculus beginner

  1. #1
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    Calculus beginner

    From your experience, what is the hardest part for a new person to get their heads around? Which for you was a challenge to understand or remember?

    This question is aimed for everyone who studied calculus and when they were firs touching into the topic.
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    MHF Contributor ebaines's Avatar
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    Re: Calculus beginner

    For me it was limit theory. Limits are really a very intuitive subject - almost common sense - but the definition we had to memorize was so complex and dense with unfamiliar math symbols that in highschool it took me a while to figure out what it was trying to say. Eventually I had that "ah hah" moment when I thought "is that all it is? That's not so hard." It's a good example of how the study of math is so much about vocabulary and understanding symbols, and once you crack the code it's not as hard as you might first think.
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    Forum Admin topsquark's Avatar
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    Re: Calculus beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by uperkurk View Post
    From your experience, what is the hardest part for a new person to get their heads around? Which for you was a challenge to understand or remember?

    This question is aimed for everyone who studied calculus and when they were firs touching into the topic.
    I didn't have much of a problem with Calc I, but my students' hardest concept to work with was not Calculus itself but the algebra they had to wade through to do it. The concepts of limits, derivatives, integration, etc. (and their applications) didn't really seem to bother them so much.

    -Dan
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    MHF Contributor MarkFL's Avatar
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    Re: Calculus beginner

    I would have to agree with Dan...I see more students struggle with the algebra and not the actual calculus.
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    Re: Calculus beginner

    anyone else?
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    Re: Calculus beginner

    I'd say Related Rates is where I always see people struggle, I've had some trouble with it myself at times, it's sort of like word problems mixed with some physics. But really all you have to do is keep practicing, everyone can do it, just takes lots of practice. Good luck.
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    Re: Calculus beginner

    Quote Originally Posted by uperkurk View Post
    anyone else?
    Of all the replies I must wholeheartedly endorse reply #2.
    All of calculus in based upon the theory of limits.
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    Re: Calculus beginner

    Delta-epsilon explanation of a limit (calc 1), Lagrange multipliers (calc 3), partial fraction decomposition rules (calc 2). It wasn't the concept as much as how it was presented in text. In my initial encounter with the delta-ep explanation of a limit, the explanation my txtbook provided was awkward to parse. Lagrange multipliers were poorly explained as well. Partial frac decomp is easy once you recognize the patterns for how fractions are decomposed. It was initially difficult for me to accept the rules without proof (my textbook basically listed how to decompose certain fractions on a case by case basis). I still don't know the proof so I guess it's still a little bit of a difficulty
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