My name is Matt Boelkins. I’m Professor of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, where I’ve been fortunate to work since 1998. The purpose of this blog is to publicize and discuss my latest writing project: a free, open calculus text. Here’s a little background on what led me to this project.
A few years ago, the MAA published the article “The House That Calculus Built,” describing the $24M home built by the author of one of the most popular calculus texts in North America.
While the author of any textbook makes contributions to the communication of the subject, this particular situation made me ponder the overall economics. Calculus doesn’t belong to the author of a given text, nor to the text’s publisher (who is undoubtedly getting far, far richer than the author is). Rather, calculus belongs to humankind, and the subject is one of the great intellectual achievements of humanity — one to which hundreds of people across different centuries and cultures contributed foundational ideas and insights, until sometime in the late 1800s when mathematicians agreed as a community that calculus and its rigorous development were understood. Personally, I don’t think any person or company should get rich from calculus.
Instead, it is my opinion that any student of calculus ought to have the opportunity to learn calculus from a text that is free of charge (if used in electronic format), and that instructors ought to have the same freedom, as opposed to being bound to books that cost more than $100 and sometimes even approach $200. To put my proverbial money where my mouth is, I am currently working on such a project: developing a free, open source calculus text. The purpose of this site is to provide a forum for discussion of the ongoing development of this book by me and my collaborators.
You can learn more about who I am and my professional work at my GVSU faculty website.