posted on Aug, 17 2009 @ 07:28 PM
Calculus is basically just very advanced algebra and geometry/trig. In a sense, it isn't even considered "new" math. Calc uses the ordinary rules
of algebra and trig, and tweaks them so they can be used on more complicated math problems.
To show the difference between a regular math problem, and a calculus math problem (in a very simple context) is too think of a guy pushing a box up a
straight incline (ramp).
We want to figure out how much energy it would take for the guy to push the box up the ramp. Because the surface of the ramp is straight (basically a
triangle with strait edges) it is very simple to use regular math to figure this problem out. The man pushing the box is pushing with an unchanging
force, and the crate is traveling at an unchanged speed. With some basic physics forumulas and some algebra and trig, we can figure out how many
calories of energy this will require.
Now, lets suppose that the ramp is not strait, but that it gets steeper towards the middle, and then flattens back out at the top. Because the
steepness of the incline is changing, the energy needed at various points are also changing. This requires calculus to solve.
The way to solve this problem is to cut the inclines angle into several small pieces, and then add the calculations of each of these pieces together,
to get the final result. The small pieces you can visualize as zooming into the angle so close that is "seems" straight. Once you get to that level,
you can then use the "straight line" method to solve for that piece. Do that for every piece, add those together, and you get a very close estimate
of what this curve is doing.
That... is calculus.