You are here

Applied Calculus: For Business, Economics, and the Social and Life Sciences

Laurence D. Hoffmann and Gerald L. Bradley
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Fernando Q. Gouvêa
, on

Most calculus courses are from an applied perspective, and most students who take calculus take it because they have been told, by some other department, that they should. So when a book calls itself Applied Calculus for Business, Economics, and the Social and Life Sciences, it is really making big promises. The title suggests a book more attuned to the actual uses of the calculus in these areas. I don't think this is quite what the authors deliver.

It is quite clear that the authors have assumed that the students are either not very "good at mathematics" or not very interested. All sorts of asides and "friendly" devices are sprinkled here and there: color pictures, just-in-time asides explaining things such as how to factor a2 - b2 , instructions on calculator use. There is very little theory (the Mean Value Theorem isn't even in the index).

What makes this "applied"? To be honest, not a whole lot, at least as far as the text is concerned. The contents are probably best described as "applicable": the authors have included those topics that they feel are of use to their students. The problem sets are more explicitly focused on applications. Many of the problems in the problem sets are labeled in terms of what kind of application they are: to taking a page at random these labels include things like "Allometry" (whatever that is), "Spread of AIDS," "Gasoline Prices," and "Bacterial Growth." (There is an extensive index of these applications.) For the most part, these strike me as real enough, but very simple. I would have preferred to see more extended discussions of more complicated models.

Overall, I don't see a whole lot that distinguishes this offering from the great mass of calculus books.

Fernando Q. Gouvêa is professor of mathematics at Colby College, where he has taught second-semester calculus more times than he can count.

The table of contents is not available.