New Politics Catalog!

Be among the first to browse and download our new politics catalog!

Of particular interest is The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, and Institutions by Christopher F. Karpowitz and Tali Mendelberg. This book shows how the gender composition and rules of a deliberative body dramatically affect who speaks, how the group interacts, the kinds of issues the group takes up, whose voices prevail, and what the group ultimately decides. It argues that efforts to improve the representation of women will fall short unless they address institutional rules that impede women’s voices.

Also be sure to note Currency Politics: The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Policy by Jeffry A. Frieden. Despite the critical role of exchange rate policy, there are few definitive explanations of why governments choose the currency policies they do. Filled with in-depth cases and examples, Currency Politics presents a comprehensive analysis of the politics surrounding exchange rates.

And don’t miss out on Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics by Marie Gottschalk. In this bracing appraisal of the politics of penal reform, Gottschalk exposes the broader pathologies in American politics that are preventing the country from solving its most pressing problems, including the stranglehold that neoliberalism exerts on public policy. She concludes by sketching out a promising alternative path to begin dismantling the carceral state.

More of our leading titles in politics can be found in the catalog. You may also sign up with ease to be notified of forthcoming titles at http://press.princeton.edu/subscribe/. (Your e-mail address will remain confidential!)

If you’re heading to the American Political Science Association annual meeting in Washington, DC August 28th-31st, come visit us at booth 301. See you there!

Princeton University Press’s best-selling books for the past week

These are the best-selling books for the past week.

1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline
 4-10 Drezner_TheoriesZombies_cvr Theories of International Politics and Zombies by Daniel W. Drezner
Carlson_Tesla jacket
Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson
DarwinFinches 40 Years of Evolution: Darwin’s Finches on Daphne Major Island by Peter R. Grant and B. Rosemary Grant
OnBullshit On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt
The Banker's New Clothes
The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig
RoughCountry Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State by Robert Wuthnow
Everyday Calculus, O. Fernandez Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us by Oscar E. Fernandez
SocialismCohen Why Not Socialism? by G. A. Cohen
OnWar
On War by Carol von Clausewitz

Katherine Freese talks cocktails and dark matter with Jennifer Ouellette

Popular science journalist and author Jennifer Ouellette recently sat down with Princeton University Press author and theoretical astrophysicist Katherine Freese to discuss Freese’s new book, The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter. The full hour-long interview is available for listening on Blog Talk Radio.

Find Additional Science Podcasts with Jay Ackroyd on BlogTalkRadio

Katherine Freese is the George E. Uhlenbeck Professor of Physics at the University of Michigan and Director of Nordita, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, in Stockholm. Her book traces the search for dark matter, from the discoveries of pioneers like Fritz Zwicky, who named dark matter in 1933, to today’s astounding insights into the very composition of the universe. Jennifer Ouellette’s books include Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales from the Annals of Physics and Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self. She also writes the Cocktail Party Physics blog for Scientific American.


Katherine Freese is the author of:

The Cosmic Cocktail The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter by Katherine Freese
Hardcover | 2014 | $29.95 / £19.95 | ISBN: 9780691153353
264 pp. | 6 x 9 |5 color illus. 42 halftones. 31 line illus. | Reviews

Book Trailer for The Amazons by Adrienne Mayor


bookjacket The Amazons
Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World
Adrienne Mayor

Quick Questions for Ian Roulstone and John Norbury, co-authors of Invisible in the Storm

Ian Roulstone (top) and John Norbury (bottom) are authors of Invisible in the Storm: The Role of Mathematics in Understanding Weather and experts on the application of mathematics in meteorology and weather prediction. As we head into hurricane season along the Eastern coast of the United States, we are still not fully recovered from Hurricane Sandy, empty lots still dot the stretch between Seaside and Point Pleasant and in countless other beach communities. But it could have been worse without the advance warning of meteorologists, so we had a few questions about the accuracy of weather prediction and how it can be further refined in the future.

Now, on to the questions!

Ian RoulstoneNorbury

 

What inspired you to get into this field?

Every day millions of clouds form, grow, and move above us, blown by the restless winds of our ever-changing atmosphere. Sometimes they bring rain and sometimes they bring snow – nearly always in an erratic, non-recurring way. Why should we ever be able to forecast weather three days or a week ahead? How can we possibly forecast climate ten years or more in the future? The secret behind successful forecasting involves a judicious mix of big weather-satellite data, information technology, and meteorology. What inspired us was that mathematics turns out to be crucial to bringing it all together.

Why did you write this book?

Many books describe various types of weather for a general audience. Other books describe the physical science of forecasting for more specialist audiences. But no-one has explained, for a general readership, the ideas behind the successful algorithms of the latest weather and climate apps running on today’s supercomputers. Our book describes the achievements and the challenges of modern weather and climate prediction.

There’s quite a lot about the history and personalities involved in the development of weather forecasting in your book; why did you consider this aspect important?

When reviewing the historical development of weather science over the past three centuries, we found the role of individuals ploughing their own furrow to be at least as important as that of big government organisations. And those pioneers ranged from essentially self-taught, and often very lonely individuals, to charming and successful prodigies. Is there a lesson here for future research organisation?


“We can use mathematics to warn us of the potential for chaotic behaviour, and this enables us to assess the risks of extreme events.”


Weather forecasts are pretty good for the next day or two, but not infallible: can we hope for significant improvements in forecasting over the next few years? 

The successful forecasts of weather events such as the landfall of Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey in October 2012, and the St Jude Day storm over southern England in October 2013, both giving nearly a week’s warning of the oncoming disaster, give a taste of what is possible. Bigger computers, more satellites and radar observations, and even cleverer algorithms will separate the predictable weather from the unpredictable gust or individual thunderstorm. Further improvements will rely not only on advanced technology, but also, as we explain in our book, on capturing the natural variability of weather using mathematics.

But isn’t weather chaotic?

Wind, warmth and rain are all part of weather. But the very winds are themselves tumbling weather about. This feedback of cause and effect, where the “effects help cause the causes”, has its origins in both the winds and the rain. Clouds are carried by the wind, and rainfall condensing in clouds releases further heat, which changes the wind. So chaotic feedback can result in unexpected consequences, such as the ice-storm or cloudburst that wasn’t mentioned in the forecast. But we can use mathematics to warn us of the potential for chaotic behaviour, and this enables us to assess the risks of extreme events.

Are weather and climate predictions essentially “big data” problems?

We argue no. Weather agencies will continually upgrade their supercomputers, and have a never-ending thirst for weather data, mostly from satellites observing the land and sea. But if all we do is train computer programs by using data, then our forecasting will remain primitive. Scientific ideas formulated with mathematical insight give the edge to intelligent forecasting apps.

So computer prediction relies in various ways on clever mathematics: it gives a language to describe the problem on a machine; it extracts the predictable essence from the weather data; and it selects the predictable future from the surrounding cloud of random uncertainty. This latter point will come to dominate climate prediction, as we untangle the complex interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, ice-caps and life in its many varied forms.

Can climate models produce reliable scenarios for decision-makers?

The models currently used to predict climate change have proved invaluable in attributing trends in global warming to human activity. The physical principles that govern average global temperatures involve the conservation of energy, and these over-arching principles are represented very accurately by the numerical models. But we have to be sure how to validate the predictions: running a model does not, in itself, equate to understanding.

As we explain, although climate prediction is hugely complicated, mathematics helps us separate the predictable phenomena from the unpredictable. Discriminating between the two is important, and it is frequently overlooked when debating the reliability of climate models. Only when we take such factors into account can we – and that includes elected officials – gauge the risks we face from climate change.

What do you hope people will take away from this book?

From government policy and corporate strategy to personal lifestyle choices, we all need to understand the rational basis of weather and climate prediction. Answers to many urgent and pressing environmental questions are far from clear-cut. Predicting the future of our environment is a hugely challenging problem that will not be solved by number-crunching alone. Chaos and the butterfly effect were the buzzwords of the closing decades of the 20th Century. But incomplete and inaccurate data need not be insurmountable obstacles to scientific progress, and mathematics shows us the way forward.

 

bookjacket Invisible in the Storm
The Role of Mathematics in Understanding Weather
Ian Roulstone & John Norbury

 

 

In the Interest of Others named co-winner of 2014 Best Book Award, The Labor Project of the American Political Science Association

j10147[1]We are delighted to extend our congratulations to John S. Ahlquist & Margaret Levi. They are co-authors of In the Interest of Others: Organizations and Social Activism which has just been named a co-winner of the 2014 Best Book Award from The Labor Project of the American Political Science Association.

According to their web site, “The Labor Project is a related group of the American Political Science Association. Related groups promote teaching and research in political science, assist in the professional development of political scientists, and sponsor panels and roundtables at the APSA’s Annual Meeting. The Labor Project stands committed to advancing those goals. We support continued research on relevant issues such as the role and influence of organized labor in U.S. elections, Iraq reconstruction, federal whistle-blowing laws, local and state U.S. political representation of workers, neoliberalism, guestworker programs, advocacy efforts, new union strategies, court decisions affecting work, federal policies regarding employment, changes in union politics, political organizations, and labor, work, and employment issues.”

Cheers!

PUP News of the World — August 22, 2014

NewsOfTheWorld_Banner

Each week we post a round-up of some of our most exciting national and international PUP book coverage. Reviews, interviews, events, articles–this is the spot for coverage of all things “PUP books” that took place in the last week. Enjoy!


blog 8.22

PERICLES OF ATHENS

He lent his name to an entire period of history and is considered one of the greatest statesman of the ancient world. But who was Pericles — general, orator, citizen? Vincent Azoulay’s PERICLES OF ATHENS offers a balanced look at the complex life and afterlife of the legendary “first citizen of Athens” who presided over the birth of democracy.

PERICLES OF ATHENS is reviewed in the Telegraph and given five stars! Iona McLaren calls the book ” a masterfully crisp study.”

In this compelling critical biography, Vincent Azoulay provides an unforgettable portrait of Pericles and his turbulent era, shedding light on his powerful family, his patronage of the arts, and his unrivaled influence on Athenian politics and culture. He takes a fresh look at both the classical and modern reception of Pericles, recognizing his achievements as well as his failings while deftly avoiding the adulatory or hypercritical positions staked out by some scholars today.

From Thucydides and Plutarch to Voltaire and Hegel, ancient and modern authors have questioned the great statesman’s relationship with democracy and Athenian society. Did Pericles hold supreme power over willing masses or was he just a gifted representative of popular aspirations? Was Periclean Athens a democracy in name only, as Thucydides suggests? This is the enigma that Azoulay investigates in this groundbreaking book.

‘Azoulay’s marvellous study should revive [Pericles],’ says McLaren.

You don’t have to travel to the Parthenon — a project that Pericles himself initiated — to hear his story. View the introduction of PERICLES OF ATHENS here.

BARRINGTON ATLAS  OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD

While we have you on your way back to ancient times, may we suggest one must-have for your trip? The BARRINGTON ATLAS  OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD is your window to the ancient world’s geography. This map re-creates the entire world of the Greeks and Romans from the British Isles to the Indian subcontinent and deep into North Africa.

Unrivaled for range, clarity, and detail, these custom-designed maps return the modern landscape to its ancient appearance, marking ancient names and features in accordance with modern scholarship and archaeological discoveries. Geographically, the maps span the territory of more than seventy-five modern countries. Chronologically, they extend from archaic Greece to the Late Roman Empire.

And now, you can pack all of this in your pocket through the BARRINGTON ATLAS OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD app for iPad.

 

The app is reviewed by the New York Times Book Review, where Jude Biersdorfer calls it “impressive” and “engrossing.”  She continues:

Available in book form since 2000, this impressive tome has been converted into an engrossing iPad app. Spanning 16 centuries, it includes the text from the print edition and all 102 maps, now as high-resolution images that fill the screen….Getting lost here is educational.

 Learn more about the BARRINGTON ATLAS app and download it for yourself for a round trip ticket to 1000 B.C.

 PHILOLOGY

Friends, Princetonians, countrymen, lend me your ears. What exactly is this thing that we can “the humanities”? Who among us knows what “philology” is? Bonus points if you do!

Many today do not recognize that word, but “philology” was for centuries nearly synonymous with humanistic intellectual life, encompassing not only the study of Greek and Roman literature and the Bible but also all other studies of language and literature, as well as religion, history, culture, art, archaeology, and more. In short, philology was the queen of the human sciences. How did it become little more than an archaic word?

In PHILOLOGY: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities, the first history of Western humanistic learning as a connected whole ever published in English, James Turner tells the fascinating, forgotten story of how the study of languages and texts led to the modern humanities and the modern university.

Sunil Iyengar reviews PHILOLOGY in the Washington Post and writes:

Deft intellectual history…As Philology illustrates, more generous spirits — call them multidisciplinary research and learning — have always presided over the pursuit of the humanities. Even in earlier guises, the humanities never had it easy. Then as now, they had to contend with turbulent times and changing social and political pressures. But given all that philology has unearthed, we should honor its legacy, as Turner does in his definitive study.

Preview PHILOLOGY by reading Chapter One here.

Art work credit: "Pericles Pio-Clementino Inv269 n2" by Copy of Kresilas 
Jastrow (2006). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Change They Can’t Believe In wins the 2014 Best Book Award, Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association

Parker_Change_S13Our heartfelt congratulations go out to  Christopher S. Parker & Matt A. Barreto. Their book Change They Can’t Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America has just been named the 2014 Best Book Award, Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. This prize is given to a book that has demonstrated “superiority in scholarship on the studying of race, ethnicity, and politics, nominated work should focus substantially or entirely on developments in the U.S. context.”

For information about the award: http://www.apsarep.org/section-awards.html

 

Opinion: Gayborhoods Are Not Passé

This is a guest post from Amin Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gayborhood? Amin will read and sign books at Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago next Friday, August 29, at 7:00 PM.

Photo by Gerald Farinas of the landmark rainbow pylons along North Halsted Avenue in Chicago, Illinois Boystown gay village in Lake View East,

Photo by Gerald Farinas of the landmark rainbow pylons along North Halsted Avenue in Chicago, Illinois Boystown gay village in Lake View East.

In a nationally unprecedented move, the city of Chicago installed tax-funded, rainbow-colored pylons along North Halsted Street in 1997 as a way to celebrate the area’s sexual diversity. The $3.2 million dollar streetscape made “Boystown” the first officially designated gay neighborhood in the United States.

“This has been a labor of love,” Mayor Richard Daley announced to the cheering crowd on the day of its unveiling. “I knew from the beginning it was about fairness—fairness to this community. I am thanking you for what you (the GLBT community) have done for North Halsted Street for many, many years.”

Some of us might question the investment of millions in highlighting an area like Boystown—especially with mounting evidence that the neighborhood’s demographics are shifting toward increasing numbers of heterosexual households. Is it possible, as the New York Times once so damningly put it, that “gay enclaves face prospect of being passé?”

About half of Illinois’s estimated 25,710 same-sex partner households live in Cook County, which includes Chicago and several suburbs to the north, south, and west. Forty percent of these households reside in the four northernmost neighborhoods along Lake Michigan. Lakeview, which houses Boystown, has the largest concentration. It is home to 1,106 same-sex households, or 12 percent of the city’s total, followed by Edgewater (951 households, or 10.3 percent), Rogers Park (736, 8 percent), and Uptown (635, 6.9 percent). Lakeview’s rate of self-reported same-sex households (2.1 percent) is above the city’s average (0.9 percent), but its sexual portfolio lately boasts many more straight people.

Demographers confirm that zip codes associated with traditional gay neighborhoods in the 100 most populous regions of the country are, in fact, “de-concentrating” and becoming less “segregated,” to borrow their words. Fewer same-sex households lived in them in 2010 than they did in 2000.

The RedEye, a free daily paper in Chicago,ran a cover story that lamented these changes. “Boystown, a haven for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community since the ‘70s, is losing gay residents,” the journalist announced, “while more heterosexuals are moving in.”

Why is this happening?


“The gay neighborhood? It’s pretty much all of Chicagoland.”


As I was writing my book on the alleged demise of gayborhoods across the country, I discovered two main reasons why these urban districts are de-gaying (GLBT people are moving out) and straightening (straights are moving in).

First, the ongoing integration of sexual minorities into the mainstream is reversing an earlier propensity for many of them to live in the same area of the city. Alderman Tom Tunney of the Forty-Fourth Ward, which includes Boystown, told me: “It’s not just one neighborhood. Gay is okay in major cities. Period. It’s just not as ghettoized. It’s not this pocket and this pocket. It’s everywhere.”

A gay man said in the same vein, “The argument can be made that the entire North Side is homosexual.” Another added, “The gay neighborhood? It’s pretty much all of Chicagoland.”

No longer limited to one small pocket, GLBT city dwellers are expanding their residential portfolios to include the entire city as a safe, livable place.


It’s a mistake to assume that GLBT people must surrender what makes us culturally unique in order to participate in the most foundational institutions of American society.


Second, many GLBT Chicagoans today feel culturally similar to their straight neighbors. “We’re just like them,” one lesbian told me. “We love the same way, we want to have the same sorts of fulfillment in our lives.”

Another explained how this affects her decisions about where to live: “We can live anywhere. You could live with us. And at the end of the day, that’s the happiest ending.”

Some people worry that this residential dispersion signals the dilution of our community. But I think it’s a mistake to assume that GLBT people must surrender what makes us culturally unique in order to participate in the most foundational institutions of American society. Full equality does not demand that we renounce our colorful queer citizenship.

History instructs. As a community, we have moved steadily northward in Chicago since the late nineteenth century and revived the gayborhood along the way: from Towertown to Old Town to New Town to Boystown—and now to Andersonville and Rogers Park.

This long-standing sequence demonstrates what sociologists call “homophily.” The idea is simple: birds of a feather flock together. As we leave an area in which we once clustered, we have used our creative energies to resurrect a new gayborhood somewhere else. We see this pattern in many major cities, including Chicago, of course, but also in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Furthermore, these cities, and many others, prominently feature a variety of commemorative markers, such as the rainbow pylons and the Legacy Walk in Chicago; permanent rainbow colored crosswalks in West Hollywood and San Francisco; rainbow flags under street signs in Philadelphia’s gayborhood; the designation of Frank Kameny Way in DC; and the dedication of Harvey Milk Street in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego. Such municipal markers preserve these culturally sacred spaces without naively denying the realities of residential change.

Gayborhoods may not have that je ne sais quoi, center-of-the-universe feeling that they once had, but this does not mean that they are passé.

 


Amin Ghaziani, an associate professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia, is the author of There Goes the Gayborhood?

What is your Amazon warrior name?

Inspired by new research by Adrienne Mayor, available for the first time in her forthcoming book The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World, we present this personality quiz. Leave a comment below with your Amazon alter ego. If you want to read more information about these women, please click here.

Throwback Thursday #TBT: Michael B. Miller’s The Bon Marche: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store, 1869- 1920 (1981)

Miller, The Bon Marche

Welcome to the fourth edition of Throwback Thursday! This week’s #TBT looks at The Bon Marche: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store, 1869-1920, Michael B. Miller’s 1981 cultural study of the Bon Marche department store, now resurrected as part of the Princeton Legacy Library series. Here area few more details about the book:

In this comprehensive social history of the Bon Marche, the Parisian department store that was the largest in the world before 1914, Michael Miller explores the bourgeois identities, ambitions, and anxieties that the new emporia so vividly dramatized. Through an original interpretation of paternalism, public images, and family-firm relationships, he shows how this new business enterprise succeeded in reconciling traditional values with the coming of an age of mass consumption and bureaucracy.

Jean T. Joughin of the Business History Review called Miller’s work “an absorbing study that can be read with pleasure by anyone interested in modern techniques of mass selling or in French culture before World War I.”

We’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed this edition of Throwback Thursday (#TBT), and we’ll see you next week!

 

6 Free to Low-Cost Resources to Teach You Calculus in a Fun and Interactive Way

In his new book, Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us, Oscar E. Fernandez shows that calculus can actually be fun and applicable to our daily lives. Whether you’re trying to regulate your sleep schedule or find the best seat in the movie theater, calculus can help, and Fernandez’s accessible prose conveys complex mathematical concepts in terms understandable even to readers with no prior knowledge of calculus. Fernandez has also provided a list below of his favorite affordable resources for teaching yourself calculus, both on- and offline.

Princeton University Press offers several other books to help you master this most notorious of the mathematics. If you’re already good at calculus, but want to be great at it, check out Adrian Banner’s The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel at Calculus, an informal but comprehensive companion to any single-variable calculus textbook. For high school mathletes and aspiring zombie hunters of all ages, there’s also Colin Adams’s Zombies and Calculus, an interactive reading experience set at a small liberal arts college during a zombie apocalypse. Readers learn as they go, using calculus to defeat the walking dead.

Calculus. There, I said it. If your heart skipped a beat, you might be one of the roughly 1 million students–or the parent of one of these brave souls–that will take the class this coming school year. Math is already tough, you might have been told, and calculus is supposed to be the “make or break” math class that may determine whether you have a future in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics); no pressure huh?

But you’ve got a little under two months to go. That’s plenty of time to brush up on your precalculus, learn a bit of calculus, and walk in on day one well prepared–assuming you know where to start.

That’s where this article comes in. As a math professor myself I use several free to low-cost resources that help my students prepare for calculus. I’ve grouped these resources below into two categories: Learning Calculus and Interacting with Calculus.

Learning Calculus.

1. Paul’s online math notes–an interactive website (free).

This online site from Paul Dawkins, math professor at Lamar University, is arguably the best (free) online site for learning calculus. In a nutshell, it’s an interactive textbook. There are tons of examples, each followed by a complete solution, and various links that take you to different parts of the course as needed (i.e., instead of saying, for example, “recall in Section 2.1…” the links take you right back to the relevant section). I consider Prof. Dawkins’ site to be just as good, if not better, at teaching calculus than many actual calculus textbooks (and it’s free!). I should also mention that Prof. Dawkins’ site also includes fairly comprehensive precalculus and algebra sections.

2. Khan Academy–short video lectures (free).

A non-profit run by educator Salman Khan, the Khan academy is a popular online site featuring over 6,000 (according to Wikipedia) video mini-lectures–typically lasting about 15 minutes–on everything from art history to mathematics. The link I’ve included here is to the differential calculus set of videos. You can change subjects to integral calculus, or to trigonometry or algebra once you jump onto the site.

3. MIT online lectures–actual course lectures in video format (free).

One of the earliest institutions to do so, MIT records actual courses and puts up the lecture videos and, in some cases, homeworks, class notes, and exams on its Open Courseware site. The link above is to the math section. There you’ll find several calculus courses, in addition to more advanced math courses. Clicking on the videos may take you to iTunes U, Apple’s online library of video lectures. Once there you can also search for “calculus” and you’ll find other universities that have followed in MIT’s footsteps and put their recorded lectures online.

4. How to Ace Calculus: The Streetwise Guide, by Colin Adams, Abigail Thompson, and Joel Hass

If you’re looking for something in print, this book is a great resource. The book will teach you calculus, probably have you laughing throughout due to the authors’ good sense of humor, and also includes content not found in other calculus books, like tips for taking calculus exams and interacting with your instructor. You can read the first few pages on the book’s site.

Interacting with Calculus.

1. Calculus java applets–online interactive demonstrations of calculus topics(free).

There are many sites that include java-based demonstrations that will help you visualize math. Two good ones I’ve come across are David Little’s site and theUniversity of Notre Dame’s site. By dragging a point or function, or changing specific parameters, these applets make important concepts in calculus come alive; they also make it far easier to understand certain things. For example, take this statement: “as the number of sides of a regular polygon inscribed in a circle increases, the area of that polygon better approximates the area of the circle.” Even if you followed that, text is no comparison to this interactive animation.

One technological note: Because these are java applets, some of you will likely run into technology issues (especially if you’re on a Mac). For example, your computer may block these applets because it thinks that they are malicious. Here is a workaround from Java themselves that may help you in these cases.

2. Everyday Calculus, by Oscar E. Fernandez.

Self-promotion aside, calculus teachers often sell students (and parents) on the need to study calculus by telling them about how applicable the subject is. The problem is that the vast majority of the applications usually discussed are to things that many of us will likely never experience, like space shuttle launches and the optimization of company profits. The result: math becomes seen as an abstract subject that, although has applications, only become “real” if you become a scientist or engineer.

In  Everyday Calculus I flip this script and start with ordinary experiences, like taking a shower and driving to work, and showcase the hidden calculus behind these everyday events and things. For example, there’s some neat trigonometry that helps explain why we sometimes wake up feeling groggy, and thinking more carefully about how coffee cools reveals derivatives at work. This sort of approach makes it possible to use the book as an experiential learning tool to discover the calculus hidden all around you.

With so many good resources it’s hard to know where to start and how to use them all effectively. Let me suggest one approach that uses the resources above synergistically.

For starters, the link to Paul’s site takes you to the table of contents of his site. The topic ordering there is roughly the same as what you’d find in a calculus textbook. So, you’d probably want to start with his review of functions. From there, the next steps depend on the sort of learning experience you want.

1. If you’re comfortable learning from Paul’s site you can just stay there, using the other resources to complement your learning along the way.

2. If you learn better from lectures, then use Paul’s topics list and jump on the Khan Academy site and/or the MIT and iTunes U sites to find video lectures on the corresponding topics.

3. If you’re more of a print person, then How to Ace Calculus would be a great way to start. That book’s topics ordering is pretty much the same as Paul’s, so there’d be no need to go back and forth.

Whatever method you decided on, I still recommend that you use Paul’s site, the interactive java applets, and Everyday Calculus. These three resources, used together, will allow you to completely interact with the calculus you’ll be learning. From working through examples and checking your answer (on Paul’s site), to interacting directly with functions, derivatives, and integrals (on the java applet sites), to exploring and experiencing the calculus all around you (Everyday Calculus), you’ll gain an appreciation and understanding of calculus that will no doubt put you miles ahead of your classmates come September.

This article is cross-posted with The Huffington Post with permission of the author.

Recommended Reading:

 Fernandez_Everyday cover Everyday Calculus: Discovering the Hidden Math All around Us by Oscar E. Fernandez
The Calculus Lifesaver The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel in Calculus by Adrian Banner
 7-18 Zombies  Zombies & Calculus by Colin Adams