Epilogue and Apologue

It may be confidently assumed that when this tractate “Calculus made Easy” falls into the hands of the professional mathematicians, they will (if not too lazy) rise up as one man, and damn it as being a thoroughly bad book. Of that there can be, from their point of view, no possible manner of doubt whatever. It commits several most grievous and deplorable errors.

First, it shows how ridiculously easy most of the operations of the calculus really are.

Secondly, it gives away so many trade secrets. By
showing you that *what one fool can do, other fools
can do also*, it lets you see that these mathematical
swells, who pride themselves on having mastered such
an awfully difficult subject as the calculus, have no
such great reason to be puffed up. They like you to
think how terribly difficult it is, and don't want that
superstition to be rudely dissipated.

Thirdly, among the dreadful things they will say
about “So Easy” is this: that there is an utter failure
on the part of the author to demonstrate with rigid
and satisfactory completeness the validity of sundry
methods which he has presented in simple fashion,
and has even *dared to use* in solving problems! But
why should he not? You don't forbid the use of
a watch to every person who does not know how to
make one? You don't object to the musician playing
on a violin that he has not himself constructed. You
don't teach the rules of syntax to children until they
have already become fluent in the *use* of speech. It
would be equally absurd to require general rigid
demonstrations to be expounded to beginners in the
calculus.

One other thing will the professed mathematicians
say about this thoroughly bad and vicious book: that
the reason why it is *so easy* is because the author has
left out all the things that are really difficult. And
the ghastly fact about this accusation is that–*it
is true!* That is, indeed, why the book has been
written–written for the legion of innocents who have
hitherto been deterred from acquiring the elements of
the calculus by the stupid way in which its teaching
is almost always presented. Any subject can be made
repulsive by presenting it bristling with difficulties.
The aim of this book is to enable beginners to learn
its language, to acquire familiarity with its endearing
simplicities, and to grasp its powerful methods of
solving problems, without being compelled to toil
through the intricate out-of-the-way (and mostly
irrelevant) mathematical gymnastics so dear to the
unpractical mathematician.

There are amongst young engineers a number on
whose ears the adage that *what one fool can do,
another can*, may fall with a familiar sound. They
are earnestly requested not to give the author
away, nor to tell the mathematicians what a fool
he really is.

Main Page ↑