This text was written as a prequel to the APEXCalculus series, a three–volume series on Calculus. This text is not intended to fully prepare students with all of the mathematical knowledge they need to tackle Calculus, rather it is designed to review mathematical concepts that are often stumbling blocks in the Calculus sequence. It starts basic and builds to more complex topics. This text is written so that each section and topic largely stands on its own, making it a good resource for students in Calculus who are struggling with the supporting mathemathics found in Calculus courses. The topics were chosen based on experience; several instructors in the Applied Mathemathics Department at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) compiled a list of topics that Calculus students commonly struggle with, giving the focus of this text. This allows for a more focused approach; at first glance one of the obvious differences from a standard Pre-Calculus text is its size.
From the preface, "These are notes for a course in precalculus, as it is taught at New York City College of Technology - CUNY (where it is offered under the course number MAT 1375). Our approach is calculator based. For this, we will use the currently standard TI-84 calculator, and in particular, many of the examples will be explained and solved with it. However, we want to point out that there are also many other calculators that are suitable for the purpose of this course and many of these alternatives have similar functionalities as the calculator that we have chosen to use. An introduction to the TI-84 calculator together with the most common applications needed for this course is provided in appendix A. In the future we may expand on this by providing introductions to other calculators or computer algebra systems."
Precalculus is adaptable and designed to fit the needs of a variety of precalculus courses. It is a comprehensive text that covers more ground than a typical one- or two-semester college-level precalculus course. The content is organized by clearly-defined learning objectives, and includes worked examples that demonstrate problem-solving approaches in an accessible way.
Prior to 1990, the performance of a student in precalculus at the University of Washington was not a predictor of success in calculus. For this reason, the mathematics department set out to create a new course with a specific set of goals in mind:
A review of the essential mathematics needed to succeed in calculus.
An emphasis on problem solving, the idea being to gain both experience and confidence in working with a particular set of mathematical tools.
This text was created to achieve these goals and the 2004-05 academic year marks the eleventh year in which it has been used. Several thousand students have successfully passed through the course.
This book is full of worked out examples. We use the the notation “Soluion.” to indicate where the reasoning for a problem begins; the symbol ?? is used to indicate the end of the solution to a problem. There is a Table of Contents that is useful in helping you find a topic treated earlier in the course. It is also a good rough outline when it comes time to study for the final examination. The book also includes an index at the end. Finally, there is an appendix at the end of the text with ”answers” to most of the problems in the text. It should be emphasized these are ”answers” as opposed to ”solutions”. Any homework problems you may be asked to turn in will require you include all your work; in other words, a detailed solution. Simply writing down the answer from the back of the text would never be sufficient; the answers are intended to be a guide to help insure you are on the right track.
Precalculus: An Investigation of Functions is a free, open textbook covering a two-quarter pre-calculus sequence including trigonometry. The first portion of the book is an investigation of functions, exploring the graphical behavior of, interpretation of, and solutions to problems involving linear, polynomial, rational, exponential, and logarithmic functions. An emphasis is placed on modeling and interpretation, as well as the important characteristics needed in calculus.