# Reference for multivariable calculus

I'm looking for a book to learn multivariable calculus that is rigorous, but not overly technical, and also provides meaningful insight. Standard calculus texts like Stewart and Thomas are too sketchy. I've also skimmed through some texts in analysis, e.g. Rudin and Pugh, but they are not so readable due to unpleasant notation (which is probably inevitable) and lack of intuitive motivation.

I came across Terence Tao's article on differential forms. I like his way of explaining the analogues and intuitions behind the definitions and theorems. This kind of writing is what I'm looking for.

• Try Spivak's Calculus on Manifolds. It is a small gem. But, it is also somewhat terse. Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 6:38
• Did you really find Rudin unpleasant? Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 6:40
• Also, take a look at the notes in this website: math.princeton.edu/~gunning Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 6:42
• Rudin was extremely helpful when I took my first course in analysis. But I found the chapters on multivariable calculus notationally intimidating. Probably notations for multivariable calculus are inevitably horrible. That's why I'm asking for a more readable book. If none exists, I must persevere.
– math
Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 6:47
• By searching in tags reference-request+multivariable-calculus I found these two similar questions: References for the multivariate calculus and Need Help: Any good textbook in undergrad multi-variable analysis/calculus?. Maybe you can find something useful there. Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 6:55

I would highly recommend using the text Eliashberg uses to teach Math 52H at Stanford University. He has a rigorous development of differential forms from linear algebra and uses these to derive change of variables, integration on manifolds, etc. It is not completely necessary to understand all of the theorems to use them, so I think you might enjoy this: Multilinear Algebra, Differential Forms, Stokes Theorem

• +1. A very nice set of notes indeed and I was unaware of their existence! Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 7:43
• yes, it is not well known since it is still in progress for a class specific to a university, but I think that the notes are very clear and make full use of linear algebra to explain multivariable calculus. Commented Apr 2, 2012 at 17:08
• Can someone post it? It seems to have gone offline. Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 8:37
• @HanAltae-Tran: could you post a mirror for those notes? The link is broken. Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 23:44
• @HanAltae-Tran, is this it : math.stanford.edu/~eliash/Public/177-2015/52htext-2015.pdf? Commented Sep 22, 2016 at 23:09

If you like the way Terence Tao writes, then I would recommend Tao's Analysis I and II.

• I'm aware of his books, but he didn't write much about multivariable calculus, only a bit of derivatives in several variables.
– math
Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 8:01
• How much are you looking for? Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 12:53
• I don't really know the scope of a standard multivariable calculus course. But, at the very least, I know there are topics like multiple integrals and differential forms, which are not present in the book.
– math
Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 13:10

I learned multivariable calculus during my undergraduate studies using Marsden & Tromba, "Vector Calculus". I found it a bit "not too much rigorous" but clear and with lot's of examples taken from physics which are rather intuitive in the sense of Terence Tao's link you put above.

I can understand why you'd find Rudin unpleasant,but Pugh I feel is much better written.You probably weren't ready for either of them, in which case you need something gentler. Try John H.Hubbard and Barbara Hubbard's Vector Calculus,Linear Algebra And Differential Forms:A Unified Approach. It's rigorous but gentle, beautifully written and has a legion of historical notes, references and applications to the physical sciences. I think you may find it just what you need.

• it seems great, thanks for the suggestion.
– math
Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 8:13

I really like Analysis on Manifolds by Munkres. A cheap Dover book is Advanced Calculus of Several Variables by C.H. Edwards. It is also pretty good from what little I've read of it. However it only has one section on differential forms, whereas Munkres devotes a whole chapter to them.