Education A National Roundup

Obituary: Calculus Expert Louis Leithold Dies

By Sean Cavanagh — May 17, 2005 1 min read

Louis C. Leithold, a longtime high school mathematics instructor who influenced the way calculus is taught in schools across the country, died April 29 in Pacific Palisades, Calif. He was 80.

Mr. Leithold, who most recently worked as a math teacher at Malibu High School in the 12,800-student Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District outside Los Angeles, wrote The Calculus, a widely used textbook that has been reprinted several times since it was first published in 1968, according to the Associated Press.

“If you have a serious interest in learning calculus,” reads one review of the textbook posted on, “then this is the best introductory text you will ever find. There are no shortcuts or dumbing down.”

Last week, Malibu High posted a photo gallery of Mr. Leithold in the classroom on its Web site ( in a tribute titled “Teacher, Friend, Calculus Guru.”

In addition to working as a high school teacher, Mr. Leithold served on the faculty of a number of postsecondary schools, including Pepperdine University in Malibu.

Many high school math instructors have described him as a strong influence on their careers, including Jaime Escalante, whose success at teaching calculus at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles was depicted in the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver.”

“I called him my adviser,” Mr. Escalante told the AP.