The content includes the usual precalculus material (functions, powers, polynomials, logs, exponentials, trig, etc.). Graphing calculators play an important role. However, this text is unlike others because it does not just use calculators to do old-style problems, but actually incorporates calculators as a learning tool and not just a "doing" tool.
This text has been used at Montana State University and elsewhere by about a hundred different instructors and many thousands of students. A great deal of experience has gone into making this text an effective learning tool.
This text is excellent for homeschooling because it takes time to teach students how to read mathematical language.
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Here is a link to information about ordering a copy.
The Table of Contents.
Of course, the presentation of most topics resembles that of other precalculus texts. So does the organization, at least after Chapter 1 (which is unique). But it is particularly effective because of its numerous distinguishing features:
(For example, most "B1" problems ask for an illustration, or explanation, rather than a computation.)
(Calculus-style applications of algebra are frequently discussed).
Table of Contents.
Six articles by Dr. Esty on learning precalculus with the aid of calculators have appeared in the recent proceedings of the International Conference on Technology in Collegiate Mathematics (some are on-line with links below).
The importance of conceptual development that is specifically algebraic is discussed in
"Algebraic Thinking, Language, and Word Problems," an article by Dr. Esty and Dr. Anne Teppo in the 1996 Yearbook: Communication in Mathematics, published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. They have also written related articles on problem-solving and algebraic thinking in several issues of Psychology in Mathematics Education.
Here is a pdf image of a published article for educators about the philosophy of the text. "Learning Precalculus Concepts using Graphing Calculators and Emphasizing Symbolic Language" by Warren Esty. As far as I know, no other Precalculus text comes close to recognizing the importance of learning to read symbolism.
All Precalculus texts have a section on inverse functions. Do they emphasize the important things? Amazingly enough, usually not. This article, published in AMATYC Review, discusses "Teaching about Inverse Functions."
"Understanding Mathematics Using Graphing Calculators." What makes a graphing calculator exercise a good one? Find out in this published article, imaged as a pdf.
"What do we need to teach about algebra, now that 'Calculators can do it all'?" When is it all right to use calculators? Find out in this published article, imaged as a pdf.
The author. Warren Esty is an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Montana State University.
Here is a link to three paragraphs about the author, Warren Esty.
For information about ordering a copy.
Warren Esty has written another text, The Language of Mathematics, designed to constitute a core course in mathematics,
and a third jointly with Norah Esty, Proof: Introduction to Higher Mathematics.
e-mail Warren Esty at