APEX: Affordable Print and Electronic teXtbooks
The current mathematics publishing paradigm produces quality textbooks with significant shortcomings. One considerable issue is that they are large, yet static; one generally chooses a book based on its strengths acknowledging that you must put up with its shortcomings. Other common issues relate to the inappropriate "new edition" update cycle and the cost.
The open textbook movement seeks to address some of these shortcomings by offering flexible, low-cost alternatives. The source files for these texts are open under generous copyright restrictions; you may edit a text to suit your purposes. The update cycle is geared towards fixing mistakes and adding valuable content, not making profits.
Authoring an open textbook is no small feat. It requires a great amount of time to write, and even then, a quality product is not ensured. Authors benefit greatly from professional editors, professional graphic artists, plus the feedback that comes from paying colleagues to review a text before it goes to publication.
The APEX model for writing textbooks provides a solution to the above problems. Authors collaborate on a text; all parts of the text writing process is handled by a variety of like-minded people so that the individual time/resource commitment is reduced to manageable levels. Some write the text; others write exercises; others produce graphics; some edit, ensuring the text has "one voice"; others write helpful LaTeX (or other suitable software) macros; others review.
The APEX model for writing texts was developed here at VMI as some of the faculty considered writing texts but balked at the time commitments necessary. So far, three texts have been produced (see links below). The matrix algebra and MATLAB/Mathcad texts were produced first and are not "true APEX" texts. Each was written primarily by one author, with a little collaboration from others. However, in the Fall of 2011, VMI awarded Lt. Col. Gregory Hartman a Jackson-Hope New Directions in Teaching and Research grant, providing him course releases so he could collaboratively write a Calculus text. A text covering "Calc I & II" has been written; while the primary author is Lt. Col. Hartman, three other authors have contributed and another colleague has provided editing. Material for Calc III is currently being written.
For more information about APEX, please contact Col. Troy Siemers or Lt. Col. Gregory Hartman.
- Fundamentals of Matrix Algebra, by Gregory Hartman. A college (or advanced high school) level text dealing with the basic principles of matrix and linear algebra. It covers solving systems of linear equations, matrix arithmetic, the determinant, eigenvalues, and linear transformations. Numerous examples are given within the easy to read text. This is currently the text of MA 103, Matrix Algebra
- An Introduction to MATLAB and Mathcad, by Troy Siemers. This textbook, or really a “coursebook” for a college freshman-level class, provides an introduction to programming and problem solving using both MATLAB and Mathcad. We provide a balanced selection of introductory exercises and real-world problems (i.e. no “contrived” problems). We include many examples and screenshots to guide the reader. We assume no prior knowledge of Matlab or Mathcad.
- Calculus 0.6, by Gregory Hartman et al. A college level treatment of standard Calculus topics beginning with limits, covering derivatives and their applications, antiderivatives, definite integration and its applications, and ending with an introduction to sequences, series, and Taylor polynomials. This text is suitable for most "Calc I" and "Calc II" courses. Material for "Calc III" is in production. This text is currently in use in MA 123 and 124, Calculus and Analytic Geometry I & II. Contact the author if source files are desired.