Calculus, from its roots as a word comes from a mineral and means “hard”, which happens to be a funny coincidence. Calculus, as a math discipline, attempts to provide a systematic description of change, which involves the estimate of rates of change. One of its main uses of Calculus, at least at the college level, is to compute the slope of a curve at a certain point, an ancient problem that attempted with certain success firstly by the greeks. There are relatively simply calculus theorems that will allow the calculation of how often the phone will ring over the next month, or a how a population of deer will grow in the upcoming years.
However, calculus is meant to be a theoretical tool that describes hypothetical situations thereby imparting clarity upon the unknown. Many would be happy to let the unknown remain that way, but if calculus is on your agenda, you may need calculus help in the near future, and you can figure on this without a formula.
The biggest breakthrough in calculus history was made by a German genius called Gottfried Leibnitz, whose work (which was parallel and simultaneous to Newton’s work) pushed the knowledge of calculus to level that were unthinkable at the time. He was not only a mathematician. He started with the study of Latin and Greek. Shortly thereafter, he began the study of Law, but more relevant was his travel to Paris later in his life. It is here that he met the famous mathematician Huygens who routed the genius of Leibnitz toward the study of mathematics in general and to geometry in particular. It was he that developed the theories of Integrated and Differential Calculus, which remained largely unused until the complexity of the twentieth century brought these disciplines to the forefront. Differential calculus was then used in determining the rates of velocity, mass and was useful in the trajectory of rockets. Fourier calculations are based upon integral calculus. Integral calculus was used to determine the rate at which the door on the space shuttle can close.
Even though Leibnitz and Newton’s contribution represented a major breakthrough, we cannot forget the strong foundation laid down by the Greek, at ancient times. It is thought that at this time, Exodius developed the Method of Exhaustion that contains rudiments of modern calculus. When you find that the Methods of Exhaustion are directly applying to yourself, it is time to seek help with Calculus.
The Mathematics study lab at your school, if there is one, will be happy to set you up with a tutor. If this is not possible, ask your teacher if he or she can recommend a tutor or approach someone who seems to get "A's" on their work and ask for help. Remember that calculus is a discipline that builds upon itself. Therefore, each stage must be clear in your mind or the subsequent steps will be out of reach. The best thing you can do is to try to find the right calculus help when it is not too late.
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