I am a high school senior enrolled in a pre-calculus class. Could you tell me what the benefits of taking calculus are and why it would be important to take the class. Thanks for your time!

A student interested in math


For this question (a very reasonable question at that) I recommend What is Calculus About by W.W. Sawyer (MAA Press).

It does not explain HOW to do calculus - just WHY you would do calculus - what the problems are like that you would solve with these methods. They are pretty basic to any study of change - including physics (and subjects that try to look like physics - like economics!)

Calculus can help you understand the rate at which things change. For example if you pump steam into an oil well to make the oil warmer and easier to pump, how quickly does the heat from the steam dissipate into the rock? Blood in a blood vessel flows more quickly in the center of the vessel than near the walls where there is friction from the vessel wall. How does the rate at which your heart is able to deliver blood to your extermeties change if your blood vessels become constricted from a buildup of plaque on the vessel walls?

Walter and Harley

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