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APEX: Affordable Print and Electronic TeXtbooks

Textbook Publishing – A Paradigm with a Problem?

The current mathematics publishing paradigm produces quality textbooks, but they come with significant shortcomings. They are cumbersome and static. “New edition” update cycles are often tied more to ensuring continued profit for publishers than to ensuring valuable content, and the books are expensive.

Writing these textbooks makes great demands on authors, who typically juggle authorship with teaching, research, and committee responsibilities. And, ultimately, the effort must be collaborative, drawing on comments from colleagues who review the texts and complemented by the work of professional editors and graphic artists. And even then a quality product is not ensured.

The open textbook movement addresses some of these shortcomings by offering flexible, low-cost alternatives. The source files are open under generous copyright restrictions, allowing users to edit the text to suit their purposes. The update cycle is geared toward fixing mistakes and adding valuable content, not toward making a profit.

The Apex Solution

The Affordable Print and Electronic TeXtbook (APEX) model for writing textbooks, developed here at VMI, provides a way to produce high quality, inexpensive textbooks, without burdening an individual author with the weight of the entire project.

In APEX, a group of like-minded colleagues collaborates so that the commitment of time and resources for each individual is manageable. Some write the text, while others write exercises or produce graphics. Some edit, ensuring the text has consistent voicing, while still others write LaTeX or other macros or review the text.

The APEX concept was developed at VMI during the production of matrix algebra and MATLAB/Mathcad texts. Each was written primarily by one author, with minimal collaboration from others

Then, in the fall of 2011, with course releases made possible by the award of a Jackson-Hope New Directions in Teaching and Research grant, associate professor of applied mathematics Lt. Col. Gregory Hartman implemented the APEX model, working with three colleagues to write, and a fourth to edit, a calculus text. The textbook covers Calculus I through Calculus III and is used in VMI’s calculus courses. Contributing authors are Col. Troy Siemers and Lt. Col. Dimplekumar Chalishajar of VMI’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Brian Heinold, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Mount Saint Mary’s University; the editor is Jennifer Bowen, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, The College of Wooster.

For more information about APEX, please contact Col. Troy Siemers or Lt. Col. Gregory Hartman.

APEX Texts  

Fundamentals of Matrix Algebra, by Gregory Hartman. A college-level (or advanced high school) text dealing with the basic principles of matrix and linear algebra, this text covers systems of linear equations, matrix arithmetic, and the determinant, eigenvalues, and linear transformations. Numerous examples are given within the easy-to-read text. This is currently the text for MA 103, Matrix Algebra.

 This text is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license, so users can modify the contents and redistribute. Anyone who does so must acknowledge the authors and indicate if changes were made. This text may not be used for commercial purposes, and no additional restrictions may be applied.

An Introduction to MATLAB and Mathcad, by Troy Siemers.This textbook, really a “coursebook” for a college freshman-level class, provides an introduction to programming and problem solving using both MATLAB and Mathcad. A balanced selection of introductory exercises and real-world problems (i.e. no “contrived” problems), including examples and screenshots, guides the student, who does not need prior knowledge of MATLAB or Mathcad to complete the course.

This text is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license, so users can modify the contents and redistribute. Anyone who does so must acknowledge the authors and indicate if changes were made. This text may not be used for commercial purposes, and no additional restrictions may be applied.

 Calculus (version 2.0), by Gregory Hartman et al. his textbook is a college-level treatment of standard calculus topics, beginning with limits and ending with iterated (multivariable) integration. The material is presented in a traditional format, designed to make the transition from popular calculus books easier. Suitable for most Calculus I, II, and III courses, the text is currently in use in VMI’s MA 123, 124, and 215, as well as Calculus and Analytic Geometry I, II, and III.

The entire text can be purchased in three volumes from Amazon.com ($13 each); search for “APEX calculus.” The texts are black and white to reduce costs.

Older versions are also available. More information can be found at www.apexcalculus.com.

Color versions of each volume, available as PDFs below, are more aesthetically pleasing, though the black and white versions, also below, are better suited for printing. .

  • Calculus I: Covers limits, derivatives, and an introduction to integration. (Used in MA 123.)
  • Calculus II: Covers integration, techniques and applications of integration, sequences, and series. (Used in MA 124.)
  • Calculus III: Covers conic sections, parametric equations, polar coordinates and functions, vectors and vector-related functions, and multivariable functions, including partial derivatives and iterated integration. (Used in MA 215.)
  • Calculus I, II, III  

Source Files

The source files can be found at github.com/APEXCalculus.

To get the whole book, run the file Calculus.tex; Calculus I is created with CalculusI.tex, etc. Running these .tex files is not for the faint of heart; they are designed to run under XeLaTeX using the Calibri font. Anyone interested in working with the authors to clean up the TeX code is invited to contact them.

This text is covered by the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 license, so users can modify the contents and redistribute. Anyone who does so must acknowledge the authors and indicate if changes were made. This text may not be used for commercial purposes, and no additional restrictions may be applied.