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Reviews - What do customers think about Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell: Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry?
good review of the topics Nov 9, 2008
i could get through this book in a few weeks and it made calculus a bit easier. focus on the problems and you should fly through any good calculus book.
Must have reference Jun 22, 2008
If you job or hobby requires occasional math, or you have kids in middle school or high school, this book is a must have. It contains all those formulas you were forced to learn as a kid, that you probably still have memorized, but maybe not.
For some reason, searching for math online is still difficult. Probably because that Greek guy who came up with the formulas name is so hard to spell. I typically reach for google when I need something, but when it is math, I grab this book.
Too brief to be of value Jul 4, 2007
The structure and focus of this book can be summed up by the author's comments on page 92. Simmons laments the size of trigonometry books, noting that they contain "hundreds of pages of unnecessary padding, consisting mostly of obscure formalities and irrelevant digressions. This padding is like smog, or dust in the eyes - it makes it impossible for even bright students to gain any clear view of what the subject is about or what it is for." He then states, "This chapter is a slightly expanded version of my standard 50-minute lecture." The idea that one can impart all of trigonometry in one 50-minute lecture is absurd. Furthermore, the chapter on geometry is only thirty pages long and the chapter on algebra is sixty pages in length. This demonstrates that the emphasis should be on the nutshell in the title, because all that you get from this book is a small kernel of the broad expanse that is precalculus. For example, the topics covered in the algebra chapter are:
*) The real line *) Integral and fractional exponents *) Polynomials and factoring *) Linear and quadratic equations *) Inequalities and absolute value *) The concept of a function *) Lines, circles and parabolas *) Logarithms *) Polynomial division *) Determinants and systems of linear equations *) Arithmetic and geometric progressions *) Permutations and combinations *) The binomial theorem *) Mathematical induction
As you can see, this comes out to approximately four pages per topic. It is impossible to present anything other than the simplest of examples and explanations in so short a time. Such brevity is counterproductive, which is why I rank the book so low.
Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell. Mar 26, 2007
It is easy to appreciate the high praise that Simmons's book receives from most reviewers, and, it is also easy to understand some reviewers' displeasure with the fast pace and brevity of the author's treatment of the curriculum. Simmons says [Preface to my copy of the 1997 hardcover edition], "I have eliminated most of the repetitious and unnecessary material often included in precalculus mathematics textbooks. I have also tried to achieve the utmost brevity that will still permit students who are willing to work at it to understand the material. If I overstep the bounds here and there, and provide explanations that are too concentrated for clarity, I welcome suggestions from teachers and students for improvements that can be included in future editions."
This is conceived as a 'brush up' for readers who have some years between themselves and their last math classes. A modest history and/or aptitude with mathematics is assumed, but not all notation or terminologies are explained when they first appear in the text; if you find this to be a problem, a decent dictionary should quickly resolve any questions.
Simmons takes full advantage of the "picture's worth a thousand words" principle, providing many excellent drawings to help explain concepts presented in the sections on geometry and trigonometry. The reader can spend abundant time in this rather small book, if he/she wants to work through all of the problems in the exercises and appendices, or they can move through it a bit more quickly by proceeding selectively, jumping past problems that look less challenging and/or concepts that are already understood (there'll be plenty of work here even for those who skip many problems!). The book can also serve as a reference for those of us who do some kinds of calculations too infrequently to recall the formulae. The book may be maddening, it may be fun (it will probably be both), it adroitly fills an important niche (or two).
Short book, fast pace Feb 28, 2007
This short book seems like it is meant for high school students, but it is more suited for Ph.D's. The author perhaps has the right approach of removing the fluff and presenting the essentials, but it is executed horribly. It's biggest problem is it has little to no examples that help us understand what the author meant or that extend the material. The hand drawings are nice, but they are just window dressing. The problems at the end seem like they come out of a PhD dissertation. I.M. Gelfand's books might be better.