Calculus not for 'flavor,' but a requirement


After four semesters of consortium math (Calculus 125a and b, Vector Calculus and Differential Equations), I would like to respond to the article in the Wildcat ("Math Dept. uses reform calculus to add interest," Oct. 6) regarding the consortium calculus book.

It was admitted that ". it does not attempt to fully explain calculus ." and that the new (Wattenberg) text ". covers considerably more calculus topics than does the consortium." Many of the topics that are not covered are "needed in higher level engineering and physics classes."

I have experienced this deficiency in some of my lower level engineering classes. Imagine the frustration of not being able to do your homework because you don't even recognize some of the functions in the solution. Even worse, when you ask the professor, he says you should have learned this function in the second semester of calculus.

In response to Mr. Lomen's comment that some topics "would be more properly covered later," I would like to ask when? They are not covered in any of the later math classes an engineer takes. It is not the responsibility of instructors in other courses to teach simple math. That is the reason we take courses from the Math Department.

Professor May, how many students take calculus because "they just want to get a flavor of calculus"? Most students take the course because it is a requirement, and they will need to be using the information that should be presented in calculus. Students are not given the option of traditional calculus, so their objective in taking the course is not considered all students are treated as only wanting a flavor of calculus. They will actually need to understand and use this material, not just have of flavor of it.

Virginia Poole

Mechanical Engineering Junior

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