Louis Leithold

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Louis Leithold
Born(1924-11-16)November 16, 1924
DiedApril 29, 2005(2005-04-29) (aged 80)
ResidenceUnited States
Known forThe Calculus
Scientific career
Fieldsmathematics (calculus)
InstitutionsMalibu High School
InfluencedJaime Escalante

Louis Leithold (San Francisco, United States, 16 November 1924 – Los Angeles, 29 April 2005) was an American mathematician and teacher. He is best known for authoring The Calculus, a classic textbook about calculus that changed the teaching methods for calculus in world high schools and universities.[1] Known as "a legend in AP calculus circles," Leithold was the mentor of Jaime Escalante, the Los Angeles high-school teacher whose story is the subject of the 1988 movie Stand and Deliver.[2]


Leithold attained master's and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He went on to teach at Phoenix College (Arizona)[1] (which has a math scholarship in his name[3]), California State University, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, Pepperdine University, and The Open University (UK).[4] In 1968, Leithold published The Calculus, a "blockbuster best-seller" which simplified the teaching of calculus.[5]

At age 72, after his retirement[4] from Pepperdine,[6] he began teaching calculus at Malibu High School, in Malibu, California, drilling his students for the Advanced Placement Calculus, and achieving considerable success.[4] He regularly assigned two hours of homework per night, and had two training sessions at his own house that ran Saturdays or Sundays from 9AM to 4PM before the AP test.[7] His teaching methods were praised for their liveliness, and his love for the topic was well known.[5] He also taught workshops for calculus teachers.[7][8] One of the people he influenced was Jaime Escalante, who taught math to minority students at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. Escalante's subsequent success as a teacher is portrayed in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver.[4]

Leithold died of natural causes the week before his class (which he had been "relentlessly drilling" for eight months[4]) was to take the AP exam;[4] his students went on to receive top scores.[8] A memorial service was held in Glendale, and a scholarship established in his name.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Louis Leithold". Britannica Book of the Year, 2006. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Louis Leithold, 80: Legendary calculus teacher wrote widely used textbook". Los Angeles Times. 9 May 2005. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  3. ^ "Graduates with Honors". Argus-Press. 20 May 1980. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Associated Press (10 May 2005). "Louis Leithold, an Innovator in the Teaching of Calculus, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b Siegel, Robert (9 May 2005). "Late Author, Teacher Demystified Calculus for Thousands". NPR. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  6. ^ a b "News Briefs". The Malibu Times. 11 May 2005. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  7. ^ a b Woo, Elaine (8 May 2005). "His Math Text Was the Standard, His Touch in Class Exceptional". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
  8. ^ a b Woo, Elaine (18 September 2005). "Obituaries: Fitting Tribute to Math Teacher; Late instructor Louis Leithold's students receive top scores on AP calculus exam". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 February 2011.