UC Berkeley Professor Reviews: Math Lower Division, Fall 2009
Here are compilations of several reviews from RateMyProfessors.com.
Math 1A, Calculus
Michael Christ, MWF 10-11A, 2050 VLSB
“straightforward prof; explains things clearly but is not too exciting…a pretty good prof, not too exciting…Good professor. Lays out the material very well. Makes it valuable to go to lecture. Tests are fair and will be no problem if you do and understand the homework. Not real lively or exciting, but clear and a good lecturer”
Key words: Good, straightforward, and boring.
Jenny Harrison, MWF 2-3, 2050 VLSB
“Worst class I have ever taken at Cal. I took AP calculus in High school and got an A and I took her class and she didn’t teach any of the theory applications she had on her tests. The reason she allows the final to be 50-60% of your grade is because so many students are failing. Half of class she was talking about string theory instead of calculus…Prof Harrington’s teaching style isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoyed this class. You have to just pay attention to what she finds exciting – that’s what she’ll test you on. I do recommend her…Half the students think she is great, the other half want to leave. I think it comes down to whether you wan to “plug and chug” and move on, or if you really want to understand what is going on. Harrison suits the second group.”
Conclusions: People love her or hate her.
Richard Borcherds, TuTh 1230-2, 2050 VLSB
“Borcherds is so nice. 1st midterm was extremely easy. 2nd midterm was NOT “impossibly difficult” and he very generously curved it. Final was at most the same difficulty as 2nd midterm, if not easier. DO THE HOMEWORK and the class won’t be that hard He even gives you a practice exam for each test that’s similar the one he gives out…Entertaining & bouncy (literally), but unhelpful lectures. 2nd midterm was too difficult. I don’t like the 3 point per problem system. If you make critical errors in your work, it can hurt you. If you took BC, you’ll probably ace this class. For easiness and passibility, take him. Go to lectures more often, too. Just learn from your GSI and book…Funny. He doesn’t hate the 1b class. He just goes off on so many tangents that lectures get tiresome. Or he misleads you into thinking some method and then goes well this doesn’t work. Still funny. And reminds me of a bird the way he flaps around the stage. ahah”
Translation: He won a Fields Medal. You know he’s going to be a little kooky.
Math 1B, Calculus
Paul Vojta, TuTh 8-930, 155 Dwinelle
“Class was not as bad as everyone thought. As long as you went to lecture everyday and paid attention, talked to your GSI when you had questions, and studied out of the book for tests, this class was easy…This professor was ridiculously hard. When you ask him a question, he literally turns around and looks tother way to answer you. He never actually shows you how to solve problems, just taught the theory behind how equations are dervied. I stopped going to lecture after the first couple of week. His tests are REALLY hard, the first midterm more than…He almost literally reads out of the book for some lectures. Sometimes his powerpoint slides are just scanned pages from the book. You’re going to have to read the book anyway to understand what’s going on, so you might as well skip lecture (so long as you always go to your discussion section and stay on top of your homework).”
Translation: Doesn’t seem like the best prof available.
Translation: Still better than Vojta
Math 53, Multivariable Calculus
Edward Frenkel, TuTh 330-5, 155 Dwinelle
“Fairly easy class. Just do the homework, curves are nice. He is very clear in lecture, though he did rush a little towards the end (fall 05)…Didn’t really like this class too much but to be fair it was mostly the material that blew it for me. Cool guy, snazzy dresser, very smart, but his midterms and finals are far harder than you’d ever expect going into them, and thats with an already difficult subject so the class can get very difficult at times…Prof. Frenkel is an excellent math professor. If you pay close attention during his lectures, you will understand the theory behind the plug-and-chug problems very very well. He had incredibly well-articulated and structured lectures. His midterms were generally straight-forward, but the final was harder.”
Translation: Whenever you get a chill math professor, take the plunge.
John Neu, MWF 12-1 PM, 155 Dwinelle
“lectures were only worth going to for the weird hilarious comments that had nothing at all to do with math. awful in office hours, most of my learning came from teaching myself out of the textbook and with my GSI. you need to put in time to study, lectures alone are not enough…He’s extremely funny. A lot of people don’t like him, but he really enjoys his job and does a pretty good job teaching. His midterms were pretty easy and he is relatively forgiving with his grading (definitely a plus). His lectures aren’t always the clearest but that’s why you have the book. Sloppy handwriting so pay attention in class…Professor Neu is probably the most annoying teacher I’ve ever had. He has a very eccentric personality that comes off initially as amusing but gets very, very old pretty quickly. He makes random noises, impersonations, and tells jokes that are often not funny. These jokes and stories, in turn, take away from actual lecture time. Neu often ends.”
Translation: Try Frenkel.
Math 54, Linear Algebra & Differential Equations
Constantin Teleman, TuTh 1230-2, 104 Stanley
“The professor’s explanations are very hard to grasp at time. The lectures were confusing. Take this class if you’re good at learning from textbook or if you have a good GSI…the class is a disaster. completely killed my interest for math…He is not a good lecturer. I didn’t go to class and I’m not sorry about it. The book is great; that’s where I did most of my learning. I tried coming to lecture once and I left remembering why I had developed the habit of not going. His teaching style is also indirect, which did not help introduce concepts that I hadn’t read about.”
Translation: Not encouraging.
Dan-Virgil Voiculescu, MWF 3-4, 155 Dwinelle
“His lectures were fairly dull, but he went over the material frequently, so if you missed it the first time, you could get it again. Set curve, midterms were easy, however, he slammed us with a super hard final. Before the final most were getting As, afterwards, most had Bs or Cs. Stuff on the final was barely discussed, so be on your toes…He’s really boring and his lectures are useless. His midterms and final are very fair and easy enough. There was never a reason to go to class because you wouldn’t be able to understand what he’s talking about. But you wouldn’t need to. Much of the stuff he expected us to know wasn’t in the book, but my wonderful GSI taught it better that he would…Lousy class. Easily and interesting material that is completely murdered by boring lectures and (in my case) sometimes attrocious TA’s. Final was really unfair and heavily waited. Hill textbook is awful!”
Translation: Yuck. Even worse. Good luck.
Math H54, Honors Linear Algebra & Differential Equations
Calder Daenzer, TuTh 2-330, 70 Evans
“Bad textbook, good lectures. Expects a lot from his students, though. Second midterm the class avg was so low, he gave a make-up test for extra credit. Never seen that happen in any class before, but it was his first sem teaching. He may be easier now…Fairly clear lecturer, cares about his students. Basically goes linearly through the book as it’s laid out in the text but occasionally provides helpful insights. Class is sometimes a warzone in that he often talks about vectors dying or getting killed by operators. Fair midterms and final, overall a good course.”
Translation: Sounds like the best of the three 54 teachers. Too bad it’s the hardest.
Math 55, Discrete Mathematics
John Strain, 2-330 PM, 10 Evans
Text: Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications by Kenneth H. Rosen
“His lectures are spotted with amusing random remarks. He can go really fast in lecture. The topics can get incredibly confusing, but he will stop to reexplain if you ask. Going over past exams are key since he often reused questions on the tests…Strain is a good lecturer, and manages to use humor to take some of the pain out of the coursework. He’s also kind enough to give 30 percent of exams free. This said, the topic matter is rather tough, and Strain can be flaky on offering support. No review sessions, broken links to old exams on website. But funny when he isn’t painfully boring…”So those are the three main uses of the Internet: (1) factoring large numbers; (2) the Search for Extra-Terrestial Intelligence; and (3) the Search for Terrestial Intelligence (and not finding any).” — Prof. Strain”
Translation: I can make you laugh.