LSU College of Science

Syllabus for Math 1530: “Differential Calculus"

Math 1530 (Differential Calculus) and Math 1540 (Integral Calculus) are 3-hour courses which, together, cover the material of the 5-hour Math 1550 (Differential and Integral Calculus), which is an introductory calculus course designed primarily for engineering majors and certain other technical majors.

The Math 1530 student is assumed to be versed in the standard pre-calculus topics of functions, graphing, solving equations and the exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric functions. The beginning instructor should be aware that some students may have issues with algebra and trig which might preclude their success in Math 1530. No prior exposure to differential calculus is assumed by the instructors of this class (though many students have had calculus before). The testing and evaluation of each class is entirely at the discretion of the instructor. No departmental policy exists on the use of sophisticated calculators in Math 1530; that decision is left to the instructor.

Basic skills the students should acquire during the course

  1. Limits and Continuity
    1. Evaluate limits from a graph
    2. Evaluate limits at points of continuity
    3. Evaluate limits of indeterminate forms using algebraic simplifications and l’Hôpital’s rule
    4. Know what continuity implies about a graph and behavior of a function
    5. Determine points of discontinuity for functions defined by formulas or graphs
  2. Differentiation
    1. Know the various interpretations of the derivative (velocity, rate of change, slope of tangent line)
    2. Evaluate the derivatives of simple functions using a difference quotient
    3. Evaluate the derivatives of combinations of the basic elementary functions
    4. Take the derivative using implicit and logarithmic differentiation
    5. Find tangent lines and be able to use them as linear approximations
    6. Find critical values, local extrema and the intervals of concavity for differentiable functions
    7. Find absolute extrema of constrained functions
    8. Understand the Mean Value Theorem for Derivatives

Text : "Calculus, Early Transcendentals," 8th Edition, by James Stewart

A specific section-by-section syllabus for the Stewart text and comments are shown below. A recommended set of homework problems is not provided. The textbook has a wide range of problems, from drill level through conceptual analysis. The instructor is urged to assign a broad range of problems from each section. Do not merely assign drill problems. The non-routine, challenging problems should form some part of each homework assignment.


Chapter 1: Functions and Models

Optional. This is a pre-calculus review chapter and may be briefly discussed or assigned at the discretion of the instructor. While incoming students should be familiar with the topics in this chapter, some may be ill-prepared for calculus. Some faculty members have begun to require students to take a diagnostic test based on this first chapter. The test may show the student the pre-calculus areas they need to improve. Many faculty members simply skip this chapter.

Chapter 2: Limits and Derivatives

Section 2.1
The Tangent and Velocity Problems: The author employs the notions of tangents and velocity to motivate the idea of a limit. Many students feel better about limits if they are given some sort of rationale for their study.
Section 2.2
The Limit of a Function: This is the standard non-rigorous approach to limits. Most faculty members employ this sequential version of limits before giving the rigorous approach in Section 2.4. The students benefit from large numbers of examples, mainly graphical, but some numerical examples should be used as well.
Section 2.3
Calculating Limits Using the Limit Laws: The standard theorems on limits of sums, differences, products, etc. are stated in this section. The proofs must be deferred until the rigorous definition of limits is covered in Section 2.4.
Section 2.4
The Precise Definition of a Limit: The instructor should use their own discretion in this section. This material is more abstract than most in this course. If you are new to teaching, you may wish to see the course coordinator or consult with some of your colleagues about this topic. When presented, it should be carefully and slowly explained. The author postpones limits at infinity until Section 2.6. You may wish to present the precise definition of Limits at Infinity when you get to section 2.6.
Section 2.5
Continuity: Continuity is one of the most important ideas in the course.  The instructor should explore the topic in detail, so that confusion might be avoided later.  The text uses the sequential criteria for continuity at points and then expands the discussion to intervals.  The students should be aware of continuity of the standard functions and how to combine them to make more complicated continuous functions. The students should be taught to evaluate limits of continuous functions with simple substitutions.
Section 2.6
Limits at Infinity and Horizontal Asymptotes: This is a standard section.  Some students may actually be familiar with calculating horizontal asymptotes from their algebra classes. 
Section 2.7 and Section 2.8
Derivatives and Rates of Change and the Derivative as a Function: This is the introduction to the derivative as limit of a difference quotient. The student should be made aware of the derivative as an instantaneous rate of change, a tangent line slope and the velocity of a particle. Too many students emerge from beginning calculus classes with an ability to compute difficult derivatives with little or no idea about the nature of the derivative. The instructor is advised to stress throughout the course the interpretation of what a derivative tells us. This is the section where that instruction begins. The students should be made familiar with the idea that differentiability means local linearity.   

Chapter 3: Differentiation Rules

Section 3.1
Derivatives of Polynomials and Exponential Functions: The author verifies the power rule for natural numbers but then asserts it is true for reals.  He then begins to use the power rule for reals after that.  Just be aware of this fact.  The standard beginning rules for the linearity of the derivative are presented and used to calculate derivatives for polynomials.  The author then uses a naive limit approach to the derivative of the natural exponential function.
Section 3.2
The Product and Quotient Rules: This is fairly standard presentation using these two powerful differentiation rules. The instructor can verify the rules and present numerous examples. Most students do not have much trouble with this topic.
Section 3.3
Derivatives of Trigonometric Functions: The material is standard. The students may not recall as much trig as the instructor deems appropriate. On a somewhat related note, you will find that your students are largely unable to work with basic identities or solve trig equations.
Section 3.4
The Chain Rule: This topic is troublesome for the student. The problem begins with their algebra weakness with composition. They cannot differentiate composite functions very easily because they do not really understand composition itself. The instructor will have to present a large number of examples.
Section 3.5
Implicit Differentiation: The beginning instructor should be advised that this seemingly easy topic will present their students many challenges. Do not suspect that you will be able to breeze through this material and have your students master it quickly.  Remember, they don't quite understand the chain rule yet.
Section 3.6
Derivatives of Logarithmic Functions: The author uses implicit differentiation to derive the formula for derivatives of logarithms.  This section also incorporates logarithmic differentiation and the verification of the power rule for real numbers. Students will have difficulty in differentiating tower functions. 
Section 3.7
Rates of Change in the Natural and Social Sciences: This section stresses the rate of change and velocity interpretation of the derivative. This section gives examples of derivatives in use in other fields. The students should know that derivatives have applications in courses other than math class. The section also continues the exposition about interpretation of the derivatives and reminds the students that a derivative is not simply a formula.
Section 3.8
Exponential Growth and Decay: Optional. This topic should really be covered in the differential equations classes.
Section 3.9
Related Rates: This topic gives the students some trouble because they do not understand the chain rule. The two basic guidelines for related rate problems are: 1 – differentiate with respect to time and 2 – never substitute numerical values until you have differentiated. These two rules should help most students.
Section 3.10
Linear Approximations and Differentials: This section revisits the tangent line and refers to the linearization of functions. The instructor may wish to mention this is the best first degree polynomial approximation for a function. The student should understand the geometric interpretations of dyy.
Section 3.11
Hyperbolic Functions: The hyperbolic functions will be new to most students. The instructor should cover these as they provide further basic functions for examples and interesting limit problems. Inverse hyperbolic functions should be considered optional.

Chapter 4: Applications of Differentiation

Section 4.1
Maximum and Minimum Values: This section includes the definitions of absolute extrema, local extrema and critical values.  This sections covers finding the extrema of continuous functions on closed intervals. The beginning instructor should stress the algebraic aspects of finding critical values.  Sections 4.1 to 4.3 are very important.
Section 4.2
The Mean Value Theorem: This section includes Rolle's Theorem and the Mean Value Theorem.  The MVT is a building block for the proofs of many other theorems and should be carefully presented.
Section 4.3
How Derivatives Affect the Shape of a Graph: This section begins with the increasing and decreasing test.  This is possibly the most important thing students can learn in calculus.  The first derivative test follows.  The author introduces the notion of concavity and its indication by the second derivative.  This section finishes off with the second derivative test.  This section takes more than one day to cover well. The algebra and trigonometry in this section can be intense.  A warning to the students might be appropriate.
Section 4.4
Indeterminate Forms and L'Hospital's Rule: This is a fairly standard presentation.
Section 4.5
Summary of Curve Sketching: This section summarizes graphing techniques.  Many of the problems involving trigonometric and exponential functions are challenging.  The beginning instructor may wish to be careful about putting some of these problems on exams.
Section 4.6
Graphing With Calculus and Calculators:  OMIT.

Section 4.5 is the last section covered in Math 1530. Section 4.6 is skipped by Math 1530, 1540, and 1550. Math 1540 picks up where Math 1530 leaves off, viz., section 4.7.

Last updated June 9, 2020.