1: An Introduction to Precalculus-Functions
Precalculus is important preparation for calculus, but it's also a useful set of skills in its own right, drawing on algebra, trigonometry, and other topics. As an introduction, review the essential concept of the function, try your hand at simple problems, and hear Professor Edwards's recommendations for approaching the course.
2: Polynomial Functions and Zeros
The most common type of algebraic function is a polynomial function. As examples, investigate linear and quadratic functions, probing different techniques for finding roots, or "zeros." A valuable tool in this search is the intermediate value theorem, which identifies real-number roots for polynomial functions.
3: Complex Numbers
Step into the strange and fascinating world of complex numbers, also known as imaginary numbers, where i is defined as the square root of -1. Learn how to calculate and find roots of polynomials using complex numbers, and how certain complex expressions produce beautiful fractal patterns when graphed....
4: Rational Functions
Investigate rational functions, which are quotients of polynomials. First, find the domain of the function. Then, learn how to recognize the vertical and horizontal asymptotes, both by graphing and comparing the values of the numerator and denominator. Finally, look at some applications of rational functions.
5: Inverse Functions
Discover how functions can be combined in various ways, including addition, multiplication, and composition. A special case of composition is the inverse function, which has important applications. One way to recognize inverse functions is on a graph, where the function and its inverse form mirror images across the line y = x....
6: Solving Inequalities
You have already used inequalities to express the set of values in the domain of a function. Now study the notation for inequalities, how to represent inequalities on graphs, and techniques for solving inequalities, including those involving absolute value, which occur frequently in calculus.
7: Exponential Functions
Explore exponential functions-functions that have a base greater than 1 and a variable as the exponent. Survey the properties of exponents, the graphs of exponential functions, and the unique properties of the natural base e. Then sample a typical problem in compound interest....
8: Logarithmic Functions
A logarithmic function is the inverse of the exponential function, with all the characteristics of inverse functions covered in Lecture 5. Examine common logarithms (those with base 10) and natural logarithms (those with base e), and study such applications as the "rule of 70" in banking....
9: Properties of Logarithms
Learn the secret of converting logarithms to any base. Then review the three major properties of logarithms, which allow simplification or expansion of logarithmic expressions-methods widely used in calculus. Close by focusing on applications, including the pH system in chemistry and the Richter scale in geology.
10: Exponential and Logarithmic Equations
Practice solving a range of equations involving logarithms and exponents, seeing how logarithms are used to bring exponents "down to earth" for easier calculation. Then try your hand at a problem that models the heights of males and females, analyzing how the models are put together.
11: Exponential and Logarithmic Models
Finish the algebra portion of the course by delving deeper into exponential and logarithmic equations, using them to model real-life phenomena, including population growth, radioactive decay, SAT math scores, the spread of a virus, and the cooling rate of a cup of coffee.
12: Introduction to Trigonometry and Angles
Trigonometry is a key topic in applied math and calculus with uses in a wide range of applications. Begin your investigation with the two techniques for measuring angles: degrees and radians. Typically used in calculus, the radian system makes calculations with angles easier.
13: Trigonometric Functions-Right Triangle Definition
The Pythagorean theorem, which deals with the relationship of the sides of a right triangle, is the starting point for the six trigonometric functions. Discover the close connection of sine, cosine, tangent, cosecant, secant, and cotangent, and focus on some simple formulas that are well worth memorizing.
14: Trigonometric Functions-Arbitrary Angle Definition
Trigonometric functions need not be confined to acute angles in right triangles; they apply to virtually any angle. Using the coordinate plane, learn to calculate trigonometric values for arbitrary angles. Also see how a table of common angles and their trigonometric values has wide application.
15: Graphs of Sine and Cosine Functions
The graphs of sine and cosine functions form a distinctive wave-like pattern. Experiment with functions that have additional terms, and see how these change the period, amplitude, and phase of the waves. Such behavior occurs throughout nature and led to the discovery of rapidly rotating stars called pulsars in 1967.
16: Graphs of Other Trigonometric Functions
Continue your study of the graphs of trigonometric functions by looking at the curves made by tangent, cosecant, secant, and cotangent expressions. Then bring several precalculus skills together by using a decaying exponential term in a sine function to model damped harmonic motion.
17: Inverse Trigonometric Functions
For a given trigonometric function, only a small part of its graph qualifies as an inverse function as defined in Lecture 5. However, these inverse trigonometric functions are very important in calculus. Test your skill at identifying and working with them, and try a problem involving a rocket launch.
18: Trigonometric Identities
An equation that is true for every possible value of a variable is called an identity. Review several trigonometric identities, seeing how they can be proved by choosing one side of the equation and then simplifying it until a true statement remains. Such identities are crucial for solving complicated trigonometric equations.
19: Trigonometric Equations
In calculus, the difficult part is often not the steps of a problem that use calculus but the equation that's left when you're finished, which takes precalculus to solve. Hone your skills for this challenge by identifying all the values of the variable that satisfy a given trigonometric equation.
20: Sum and Difference Formulas
Study the important formulas for the sum and difference of sines, cosines, and tangents. Then use these tools to get a preview of calculus by finding the slope of a tangent line on the cosine graph. In the process, you discover the derivative of the cosine function.
21: Law of Sines
Return to the subject of triangles to investigate the law of sines, which allows the sides and angles of any triangle to be determined, given the value of two angles and one side, or two sides and one opposite angle. Also learn a sine-based formula for the area of a triangle.
22: Law of Cosines
Given three sides of a triangle, can you find the three angles? Use a generalized form of the Pythagorean theorem called the law of cosines to succeed. This formula also allows the determination of all sides and angles of a triangle when you know any two sides and their included angle.
24: Trigonometric Form of a Complex Number
Apply your trigonometric skills to the abstract realm of complex numbers, seeing how to represent complex numbers in a trigonometric form that allows easy multiplication and division. Also investigate De Moivre's theorem, a shortcut for raising complex numbers to any power.
25: Systems of Linear Equations and Matrices
Embark on the first of four lectures on systems of linear equations and matrices. Begin by using the method of substitution to solve a simple system of two equations and two unknowns. Then practice the technique of Gaussian elimination, and get a taste of matrix representation of a linear system.
26: Operations with Matrices
Deepen your understanding of matrices by learning how to do simple operations: addition, scalar multiplication, and matrix multiplication. After looking at several examples, apply matrix arithmetic to a commonly encountered problem by finding the parabola that passes through three given points.
27: Inverses and Determinants of Matrices
Get ready for applications involving matrices by exploring two additional concepts: the inverse of a matrix and the determinant. The algorithm for calculating the inverse of a matrix relies on Gaussian elimination, while the determinant is a scalar value associated with every square matrix.
28: Applications of Linear Systems and Matrices
Use linear systems and matrices to analyze such questions as these: How can the stopping distance of a car be estimated based on three data points? How does computer graphics perform transformations and rotations? How can traffic flow along a network of roads be modeled?
30: Ellipses and Hyperbolas
Continue your survey of conic sections by looking at ellipses and hyperbolas, studying their standard equations and probing a few of their many applications. For example, calculate the dimensions of the U.S. Capitol's "whispering gallery," an ellipse-shaped room with fascinating acoustical properties.
31: Parametric Equations
How do you model a situation involving three variables, such as a motion problem that introduces time as a third variable in addition to position and velocity? Discover that parametric equations are an efficient technique for solving such problems. In one application, you calculate whether a baseball hit at a certain angle and speed will be a home run.
32: Polar Coordinates
Take a different mathematical approach to graphing: polar coordinates. With this system, a point's location is specified by its distance from the origin and the angle it makes with the positive x axis. Polar coordinates are surprisingly useful for many applications, including writing the formula for a valentine heart!...
33: Sequences and Series
Get a taste of calculus by probing infinite sequences and series-topics that lead to the concept of limits, the summation notation using the Greek letter sigma, and the solution to such problems as Zeno's famous paradox. Also investigate Fibonacci numbers and an infinite series that produces the number e....
34: Counting Principles
Counting problems occur frequently in real life, from the possible batting lineups on a baseball team to the different ways of organizing a committee. Use concepts you've learned in the course to distinguish between permutations and combinations and provide precise counts for each.
36: GPS Devices and Looking Forward to Calculus
In a final application, locate a position on the surface of the earth with a two-dimensional version of GPS technology. Then close by finding the tangent line to a parabola, thereby solving a problem in differential calculus and witnessing how precalculus paves the way for the next big mathematical adventure.
I love mathematics and tried to communicate this passion to others, regardless of their mathematical backgrounds.
I love mathematics and tried to communicate this passion to others, regardless of their mathematical backgrounds.
About Bruce H. Edwards
Dr. Bruce H. Edwards is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Florida. Professor Edwards received his B.S. in Mathematics from Stanford University and his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Dartmouth College. After his years at Stanford, he taught mathematics at a university near Bogota, Colombia, as a Peace Corps volunteer. Professor Edwards has won many teaching awards at the University of Florida, including Teacher of the Year in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences Student Council Teacher of the Year, and the University of Florida Honors Program Teacher of the Year. He was selected by the Office of Alumni Affairs to be the Distinguished Alumni Professor for 1991-1993. Professor Edwards has taught a variety of mathematics courses at the University of Florida, from first-year calculus to graduate-level classes in algebra and numerical analysis. He has been a frequent speaker at research conferences and meetings of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. He has also coauthored a wide range of mathematics textbooks with Professor Ron Larson. Their textbooks have been honored with various awards from the Text and Academic Authors Association.