MA 171

Undergraduate Courses

MA 171, Calculus A

Course Description and Goals

Calculus A is the first course in a three-course sequence in calculus, primarily intended for students in science and engineering. Specific topics include

  • the basic concepts and algebra of limits,
  • the basic concepts and techniques of differentiation,
  • applications of the derivative, particularly to related rate problems, optimization problems, and graphs of functions
  • the study of families of transcendental functions including exponential and logarithmic functions
  • numerical approximations including Newton's method and first order approximations
  • basic concepts of the definite integral
  • basic concepts of the indefinite integral and antiderivatives
  • the fundamental theorem of calculus
  • applications of the integral to area and distance
  • the use of the Maple computer algebra system

Goals of the course include

  • a basic understanding of the special language, notation, and point of view of calculus
  • the ability to solve basic computational problems involving derivatives and integrals
  • an understanding of concepts from complementary points of view (algebraic, geometric, numerical, procedural)
  • the ability to model and solve basic calculus problems in science and engineering
  • a basic sense of the history of calculus and its central importance in science
  • an improved ability to read, write, speak, and think in mathematical terms

Alabama General Studies Curriculum

MA 171 is an AGSC approved course; the standard AGSC number is Math 125.


MA 113, Precalculus Trigonometry with a grade of C or better, or MA 115, Precalculus Algebra and Trigonometry with a grade of C or better, or placement


4 Semester Hours

Grading System

This course is graded A, B, C, D, F. The grade typically depends on a combination of class tests, homework, Maple assignments, quizzes, and a comprehensive final exam.