Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
  1. I guess this may seem stupid, but how calculus and real analysis are different from and related to each other?

    I tend to think they are the same because all I know is that the objects of both are real-valued functions defined on $\mathbb{R}^n$, and their topics are continuity, differentiation and integration of such functions. Isn't it?

  2. But there is also $\lambda$-calculus, about which I honestly don't quite know. Does it belong to calculus? If not, why is it called *-calculus?
  3. I have heard at the undergraduate course level, some people mentioned the topics in linear algebra as calculus. Is that correct?

Thanks and regards!

share|cite|improve this question
λ-calculus is something completely different: see – lhf Apr 12 '11 at 1:45
I would say "calculus is to analysis as arithmetic is to number theory", including real and complex analysis under that umbrella. – Alex Becker Apr 12 '11 at 1:47
The term "calculus" can be used generally to mean something like "manipulation". The subject in math that we call calculus today was previously more well known by a longer name "calculus of infinitesimals", so named because at the time of its development, it was thought of as exactly that, the science of manipulating infinitesimally small numbers. It's in this sense that $\lambda$-calculus is named: it deals with the manipulation of "lambdas". See: – matt Apr 12 '11 at 1:49
I think "calculus" in general means "to calculate". So, with this in mind, calculus uses the results of analysis to calculate things. Analysis is all the theory behind calculus. – Matt Gregory Apr 12 '11 at 2:00
@matt: thanks! I have heard that at the undergraduate course level, some people refer to topics in linear algebra as calculus. Is that correct? – Tim Apr 12 '11 at 2:05
up vote 41 down vote accepted
  1. A first approximation is that real analysis is the rigorous version of calculus. You might think about the distinction as follows: engineers use calculus, but pure mathematicians use real analysis. The term "real analysis" also includes topics not of interest to engineers but of interest to pure mathematicians.

  2. As is mentioned in the comments, this refers to a different meaning of the word "calculus," which simply means "a method of calculation."

  3. This is imprecise. Linear algebra is essential to the study of multivariable calculus, but I wouldn't call it a calculus topic in and of itself. People who say this probably mean that it is a calculus-level topic.

share|cite|improve this answer
we had courses analysis 1 and analysis 2 but the books had titles like Calculus. However these books were total 2000 pages too complex that any textbook for calculus i seen seemed childish too simple . So now i understand ,that books are analysis books. – GorillaApe Mar 3 '12 at 2:15
@Parhs: What books? – Tim Mar 3 '12 at 2:28
They are written in greek. I was wrong , the total pages are 2800 (2 theory and some problems and examples and 2 other only problems.) It uses literature from apostol,ayoub,birkhoff,comtet,ciang and lots of other[80 total].But they are extreemly hard to read. Even the most difficult textbook for calculus is easy compared to them.And they are given at engineering school – GorillaApe Mar 3 '12 at 2:54

In Eastern Europe (Poland, Russia) there is no difference between calculus and analysis (there is mathematical analysis of function of real/complex variable/s).

In my opinion this distinction is typical for Western countries to make the following difference:

  • calculus relies mainly on conducting "calculations" (algebraic transformations applied to function, derivation of theorems/concepts by methods of elementary mathematics, computations applied to specific problem)

  • analysis relies mainly on conducting "analysis" of properties of functions (derivation of theorems, proving theorems)

However, still this distinction is unnecessary:

  • (the most important) issues of "calculus" and "analysis" are very often linked together so that distinction is impossible (e.g. consideration of concept of limit in calculus due to Cauchy or Heine is actually the same as in analysis)

  • it makes artificial ambiguity in perception of mathematical analysis

  • it isolates common sense approach obtained from elementary mathematics and disables straightforward transition from elementary mathematics to higher mathematics

  • issues of "calculus" and "analysis" treated together enables acquisition of deeper understanding of subject by making extension from methods gained from elementary mathematics.

share|cite|improve this answer
Sorry, but you must be confusing Anglo-Saxon countries and Western Europe. In France, there is no such thing as "calculus", and I suspect it's true for most of continental Europe. – Jean-Claude Arbaut Aug 26 '14 at 15:19
No such thing as "calculus" in Italy too. – LtWorf Jan 31 '15 at 9:38

As I understand the terms, calculus is just differentiation and integration, whereas real analysis also includes such topics as the definition of a real number, infinite series, and continuity. But perhaps I am out of date.

share|cite|improve this answer

This is a purely anglo-saxon distinguishment. In most countries, however, there is no distinction between "rigorous" analysis and "non-rigorous" calculus. There are just different levels of analysis courses, e.g. "real analysis for engineers".

The term "calculus" itself just means "method of calculation". Even simple arithmetics are some type of "calculus". What people in anglo-saxon countries refer to as "calculus" is actually just a short version of "infinitesimal calculus", the original ideas and concepts introduced by Leibniz and Newton. Nonetheless, even the lowest-level "calculus" courses usually refer to concepts introduced much later after Netwon and Leibniz, e.g. Riemann sums (Riemann lived about 200 years after these two).

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.