Branch of mathematics concerned with the study of such concepts as the rate of change of one variable quantity with respect to another, the slope of a curve at a prescribed point, the computation of the maximum and minimum values of functions, and the calculation of the area bounded by curves. Evolved from algebra, arithmetic, and geometry, it is the basis of that part of mathematics called analysis.
Calculus is widely employed in the physical, biological, and social sciences. It is used, for example, in the physical sciences to study the speed of a falling body, the rates of change in a chemical reaction, or the rate of decay of a radioactive material. In the biological sciences a problem such as the rate of growth of a colony of bacteria as a function of time is easily solved using calculus. In the social sciences calculus is widely used in the study of statistics and probability.
Source: Math on Call - A Mathematics Handbook Great Source Education Group - A Houghton Mifflin Company