Calculus-Based Physics 1 is an introductory physics textbook designed for use in the two-semester introductory physics course typically taken by science and engineering students.

This book is a physics textbook, not a mathematics book. One of your goals in taking a physics course is to become more proficient at solving physics problems, both conceptual problems involving little to no math, and problems involving some mathematics. In a typical physics textbook problem you are given a description about something that is taking place in the universe and you are supposed to figure out and write something very specific about what happens as a result of what is taking place. More importantly, you are supposed to communicate clearly, completely, and effectively, how, based on the description and basic principles of physics, you arrived at your conclusion.

You might well wonder why we start off a physics book with a chapter on mathematics. The thing is, the mathematics covered in this chapter is mathematics you are supposed to already know. The problem is that you might be a little bit rusty with it. We don’t want that rust to get in the way of your learning of the physics. So, we try to knock the rust off of the mathematics that you are supposed to already know, so that you can concentrate on the physics.

As much as we emphasize that this is a physics course rather than a mathematics course, there is no doubt that you will advance your mathematical knowledge if you take this course seriously. You will use mathematics as a tool, and as with any tool, the more you use it the better you get at using it. Some of the mathematics in this book is expected to be new to you. The mathematics that is expected to be new to you will be introduced in recitation on an as-needed basis. It is anticipated that you will learn and use some calculus in this course before you ever see it in a mathematics course. (This book is addressed most specifically to students who have never had a physics course before and have never had a calculus course before but are currently enrolled in a calculus course. If you have already taken calculus, physics, or both, then you have a well- earned advantage.)

Two points of emphasis regarding the mathematical component of your solutions to physics problems that have a mathematical component are in order:

(1) You are required to present a clear and complete analytical solution to each problem. This means that you will be manipulating symbols (letters) rather than numbers.

(2) For any physical quantity, you are required to use the symbol which is conventionally used by physicists, and/or a symbol chosen to add clarity to your solution. In other words, it is not okay to use the symbol x to represent every unknown.