Differential calculus

How would you like to follow in the footsteps of Euclid and Archimedes? Would you like to be able to determine precisely how fast Usain Bolt is accelerating exactly 2 seconds after the starting gun? Differential calculus deals with the study of the rates at which quantities change. It is one of the two principle areas of calculus. The fathers of modern calculus, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz, independently formulated the fundamental theorem of calculus relating differentiation and integration. Differential calculus and integral calculus are connected by the fundamental theorem of calculus, which states that differentiation is the reverse process to integration.
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Limit introduction, squeeze theorem, and epsilon-delta definition of limits
All content in “Limits”


Limits are the core tool that we build upon for calculus. Many times, a function can be undefined at a point, but we can think about what the function "approaches" as it gets closer and closer to that point (this is the "limit"). Other times, the function may be defined at a point, but it may approach a different limit. There are many, many times where the function value is the same as the limit at a point. Either way, this is a powerful tool as we start thinking about slope of a tangent line to a curve. If you have a decent background in algebra (graphing and functions in particular), you'll hopefully enjoy this tutorial!

Finding limits algebraically

We often attempt to find the limit at a point where the function itself is not defined. In this tutorial, we will use algebra to "simplify" functions into ones where it is defined. Given that the original function and the simplified one may be identical except for the limit point in question, this is a useful way of finding limits.

Continuity using limits

A function isn't continuous when there is a "break" in its graph. This tutorial uses limits to define this idea more formally and gives practice thinking about continuity (and discontinuity) in terms of limits.

Old limits tutorial

This tutorial covers much of the same material as the "Limits" tutorial, but does it with Sal's original "old school" videos. The sound, resolution or handwriting isn't as good, but some people find them more charming.

Squeeze theorem

If a function is always smaller than one function and always greater than another (i.e. it is always between them), then if the upper and lower function converge to a limit at a point, then so does the one in between. Not only is this useful for proving certain tricky limits (we use it to prove lim (x → 0) of (sin x)/x, but it is a useful metaphor to use in life (seriously). :) This tutorial is useful but optional. It is covered in most calculus courses, but it is not necessary to progress on to the "Introduction to derivatives" tutorial.

Epsilon delta definition of limits

This tutorial introduces a "formal" definition of limits. So put on your ball gown and/or tuxedo to party with Mr. Epsilon Delta (no, this is not referring to a fraternity). This tends to be covered early in a traditional calculus class (right after basic limits), but we have mixed feelings about that. It is cool and rigorous, but also very "mathy" (as most rigorous things are). Don't fret if you have trouble with it the first time. If you have a basic conceptual understanding of what limits are (from the "Limits" tutorial), you're ready to start thinking about taking derivatives.