the maths, get them in my head
April 28, 2010 1:31 PM   Subscribe

I need to learn Calculus II over the summer. I won't be able to take summer courses. I need to be ready to take differential equations in the fall. Hope me!

About ten years ago I somehow passed Calc I, II, and III, even though I had practically no discipline to get my ass to class or to study. I never graduated, entered the corporate world, and promptly forgot everything except basic algebra and trig. Ten years later, I was laid off and went back to school to finish my degree.

I need differential equations for my engineering degree. For that, I need Calc I and Calc II. I'm re-taking Calc I right now, and I have a strong A in the class.

The Situation:
Differential equations is a major prerequisite for a lot of my other classes. Because I have the Calc II credit, I could theoretically take that in the fall, but because I remember nothing from the last time I took Calc II, I'd do pretty horribly. I was hoping to take Calc II over the summer, but that's not going to be possible.

The Question:
What's the best way for me to be ready for differential equations in the fall? My calculus book covers I and II, so that's a resource. I read this question and found a lot of good info in there. I'm looking for more resources that will guide me through a self-taught semester of Calc II over the summer.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints to Education (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Khan Academy.
posted by contessa at 1:34 PM on April 28, 2010 [5 favorites]

If you do nothing else, get yourself the Schaum's outline. My college Calc II course actually used that as the primary textbook, it was so straightforward and helpful.

(Frankly, if you have a good handle on Calc I and only a moderate grasp of Calc II, I still think you'd do fine in a differential equations course. I slacked off in Calc II, did rather poorly, and couldn't say I remember much of it, yet I aced ODEs and PDEs at a grad level five years later and used differential equations all the time in my research. It's not really a straightforward progression from Calc II to differential equations, anyway.)
posted by adiabat at 2:01 PM on April 28, 2010

MIT's Open Course Ware has materials - various combinations of lecture notes, assignments, exams, and video lectures - for several calculus classes online. I don't know how their course divisions correspond to yours. For instance, they seem to cover in two semesters (18.01 and 18.02) what my undergrad institution did in three, and there's a more theory-based track (18.014 and 18.024) with limited resources posted, and something that looks like sort of an accelerated review class (18.013A). You could browse the listings here - they usually have lists of topics covered, and the videos are titled with the focus of the lecture - and see whether any of them match what you're trying to re-learn.
posted by sigmagalator at 2:04 PM on April 28, 2010

I think that you ought to do just fine with your Calc I knowledge, and you could just catch up as you go if you encounter any difficulties. I was in a situation similar to yours last year: I took Calc II in high school and DiffE six years later with no problems.

I am surprised that Calc II is even a prerequisite for DiffE at your school: is it an ordinary differential equations or partial differential equations course?

If you still feel insecure, I would contact the professor teaching Calc II at your school and ask him for any course materials that he makes available to his students. I can't imagine why he wouldn't agree to help you out.
posted by halogen at 2:06 PM on April 28, 2010

I, too, would suggest the Schaum's Outlines. They work a lot of the problems out for you, and they have answers for all the problems in the book. I think it's a good supplement to a regular Calculus textbook. Maybe you could get the syllabus for the Calculus II course and follow that using your textbook. Also, try asking around if anyone has old lecture notes or quizzes or tests from that class or check the professor's website to see if he/she puts up slides.

At my school Calculus I is mainly differential calculus and Calculus II is mainly integral calculus. If this is the case, then I think it will definitely serve you well to review Calculus II before taking Diff Eq.
posted by bluefly at 3:04 PM on April 28, 2010

Response by poster: Great stuff, everyone.

Does anyone know of reputable forums where I can ask questions if I get stuck? An AskMe for math, if you will?
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:29 PM on April 28, 2010

I highly recommend Paul's Notes. I've used the online MIT lectures for Linear Algebra and it was pretty helpful. You'll want to consult more than one source, though, because there are a lot of different ways to explain calculus and sometimes one will click with you better than others.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 4:30 PM on April 28, 2010

For review you might want to consider purchasing a BC Calc AP review book (it's a highschool class that covers the first two semesters of calculus). The review there should probably be enough to bring back most of your knowledge.
posted by kylej at 7:19 PM on April 28, 2010

Get your hands on the DiffEq book you will be using in the Fall, as well as a syllabus that states what chapters will be covered. They will be your single greatest resource in preparing for the class. You'll know what's important to know how to do (subsitution of variables in integration, fundamental theorem, Leibniz integration, complete vs. partial derivatives, the product and chain rules) vs. what you won't need (a lot of the stupid trigonometric integration rules). Try and do some reading of the Diff Eq book and see if the examples make sense. When they don't, that will point to the holes in your background.

I don't know of a good free resource, but you could always visit your school's math help room.
posted by onalark at 8:23 PM on April 28, 2010

Response by poster: I don't know of a good free resource, but you could always visit your school's math help room.

Oh yeah, they're awesome. A bunch of math majors and grad students sitting around waiting to help you out of a jam. The only problem is that they're not around during the summer. I'll definitely be utilizing that resource in the fall.

This is all great advice. A lot of it seems obvious now, but it just wasn't coming to me earlier today, so thanks.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:59 PM on April 28, 2010

Try googling the question. Someone somewhere may have posted a similar problem so you may be able to figure it out.

Alternatively try one of the outsourced tutoring services like
Refer to this article
posted by iNfo.Pump at 11:08 AM on April 29, 2010

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