The discovery of the branch of mathematics known as calculus was motivated by two classical problems: how to find the slope of the tangent line to a curve at a point and how to find the area bounded by a curve. What is surprising is that these two problems are fundamentally connected and, together with the notion of limits, can be used to analyze instantaneous rates of change, accumulations of change, volumes of irregular solids, and many other types of problems in mathematics.
Limits are heavily used in calculus. The formal notion of a limit is what differentiates calculus from precalculus mathematics.
Calculus in Math Competitions
There are a number of high school math contests that have a calculus round, or require calculus. These include:
- The Harvard-MIT Invitational Tournament (HMIT)
- The Johns-Hopkins Mathematics Tournament
- The Rocket City Math League
- The Rice University Mathematics Tournament
- The Chandler-Gilbert Community College Excellence in Mathematics High School Competition, precalculus and above division, team competition, in Arizona
None of the AMC competitions leading up to the IMO require it, nor does the ARML, even though calculus solutions are still permitted. Online high school competitions, such as the iTest, will occasionally require it, but generally not.