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University of Pennsylvania

Calculus: Single Variable Part 1 - Functions

University of Pennsylvania via Coursera


Calculus is one of the grandest achievements of human thought, explaining everything from planetary orbits to the optimal size of a city to the periodicity of a heartbeat. This brisk course covers the core ideas of single-variable Calculus with emphases on conceptual understanding and applications. The course is ideal for students beginning in the engineering, physical, and social sciences. Distinguishing features of the course include: 1) the introduction and use of Taylor series and approximations from the beginning; 2) a novel synthesis of discrete and continuous forms of Calculus; 3) an emphasis on the conceptual over the computational; and 4) a clear, dynamic, unified approach.

In this first part--part one of five--you will extend your understanding of Taylor series, review limits, learn the *why* behind l'Hopital's rule, and, most importantly, learn a new language for describing growth and decay of functions: the BIG O.


  • Introduction
    • Welcome to Calculus: Single Variable! below you will find the course's diagnostic exam. if you like, please take the exam. you don't need to score a minimal amount on the diagnostic in order to take the course. but if you do get a low score, you might want to readjust your expectations: this is a very hard class...
  • A Review of Functions
    • This module will review the basics of your (pre-)calculus background and set the stage for the rest of the course by considering the question: just what is the exponential function?
  • Taylor Series
    • This module gets at the heart of the entire course: the Taylor series, which provides an approximation to a function as a series, or "long polynomial". You will learn what a Taylor series is and how to compute it. Don't worry! The notation may be unfamiliar, but it's all just working with polynomials....
  • Limits and Asymptotics
    • A Taylor series may or may not converge, depending on its limiting (or "asymptotic") properties. Indeed, Taylor series are a perfect tool for understanding limits, both large and small, making sense of such methods as that of l'Hopital. To solidify these newfound skills, we introduce the language of "big-O" as a means of bounding the size of asymptotic terms. This language will be put to use in future Chapters on Calculus.

Taught by

Robert Ghrist


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4.6 rating, based on 8 reviews

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  • Ashlynn Pai completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    I took this course to gain another perspective on single-variable calculus and it did not disappoint. I still find Taylor series mysterious but my understanding has improved thanks to this course.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I like this course . Improve my knowledge. Problems are very interesting . I spend few times but I understand few minutes your teaching is super.
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