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Business Calculus with Excel

Preface Notes for Students

This text has been written to make life better for business students taking calculus. You should be able to see connections between this course and your business courses. While it uses Excel, it does not assume that you are familiar with it. The excel worksheets used in the text are available for you to use and see the underlying code. We are in the process of making them available in both the worked version, so you can see what was done, and an unworked version so you can follow along. We recommend you start with the unworked version. We are also adding videos of all the Excel examples used in the text.
The rules for using Excel in the class violate several de facto rules you have learned in all your previous math courses. This is done intentionally. This is probably either your last math class or your second to last math class. We have added much greater emphasis to how your skills will be used after the course is over. Mathematicians have worked for millennia to develop techniques for fast symbol manipulation freed from context. That means the same skills can be used in many contexts. In a business setting you want to make work products that you can come back to months or years later. You also want your work to be understood by others. When practical, we use longer variable names and break steps apart in Excel. This makes the material easier to read. It also means that students make fewer mistakes with long formulas.
Excel has special functions for almost any financial calculation you can think of. For the most part, we will not use the advanced formulas. When your job is to work with a specific formula every day for months, it will make sense to learn the special formulas. At this point, the syntax is too complicated and you will forget them in a short period of time.
Final thoughts:
  • If nothing else, this text is free, so it is one less text you need to buy.
  • We welcome suggestions, comments, and corrections.
  • Videos of the Excel problems are being added.
Mike May, S.J.
St Louis, MO, 2021