Why Study Calculus?

As part of a subcategory within my "Why Study Math" series, I am pleased to introduce a new group or articles that will touch upon some of the higher branches of mathematics. The purpose of these writings will be to introduce people-particularly the lay person-to some of the more advanced reaches of this subject. Many people unfortunately never get to glimpse the fascinating beauty of the higher realms of mathematics such as the Calculus, and far too many are under the mistaken belief that this field is only reserved for the so called erudite and genius crowd. Not so I say. Give me a chance and I will be happy to accommodate you.

The end result of mathematics, I firmly believe, is to clarify not mystify. This notwithstanding, the very nature of what mathematics is often trying to explain is so complicated that easy and clear methods are insufficient. In order to tackle something as complex as an explanation of the DNA double helix, for example, or the instantaneous rates of change among quantities like temperature against time in a rate of cooling experiment, ordinary arithmetic simply will not suffice. In fact, one of the inventors of the Calculus, Sir Isaac Newton, in order to solve the problems he was working on, had no choice but to devise a higher branch of mathematics because of the insufficiencies of the existing ones. But then again, this is the driving force among all newventions and discoveries.

The Calculus is a branch of mathematics that deals with things like limits, derivatives, and integrals, and these topics all hinge upon the idea of ​​infinitesimal quantities and infinity. Because calculus relations heavily on the lower branch of mathematics called algebra, it is often referred to in my articles as "glorified" algebra. Truly if you want to learn calculus, and you already have a good handle on algebra, then you will find yourself comfortable with this more advanced subject. One of the many beauties of the calculus is that that it works very well in the real world, describing all kinds of physical and natural phenomena and solving all kinds of practical problems.

As I launch this new series of articles, I will be talking about these interesting applications of calculus to the real world. Without getting too technical, we will explore a diverse range of topics that the calculus has opened to us. From the calculation of irregularly shaped areas to finding the maximum profit that a business can earn according to a specified law, we will enter an exotic realm of the universe where things like infinity and 0 take on a whole new role. So stay tuned and read on …