Math Lower Division, Spring 2008

For all the students who’ve been waiting, here’s Part I of the many Christmas Break helpings to picking Spring semester classes. I will be updating links on the sidebar after this one, so look right under the ticket ads during Christmas Break.

This is by no means a complete report, but you can use the information given to help you pick and choose your professors. All professor info provided by RateMyProfessors.com and Pick-a-Prof. Textbook links are provided at the bottom.

Math 1A, Calculus
Jon Wilkening; MWF 12-1, 2050 VLSB
No Info.

Math 1B, Calculus
Section 1: Vaughn Jones; TuTh 2-330, 4 LeConte
Average GPA for lower-div: 2.72; 30% A-33% B-23% C-11% D-5% F

“He writes very nicely on the chalkboard (a luxury in a math class!) He mumbles a little, but knows the material well, and is clear and organized in lecture. Always gives examples…His credentials are incredible and he knows the stuff very well, but go to your TA when you have any specific questions and you need clarifying. Go to lecture but bring a newspaper; you don’t want to miss anything important and he can be interesting, but three hours a week does get boring….This guy won a Field’s Medal. But from what I remembered, I learned the material from the textbook, not from lecture.”

Section 2: Vera Serganova; MWF 9-10, 155 Dwinelle
Average GPA: 3.38 (for an upper div class)

“She has good intentions and can probably explain it better one on one but shes one of those genius Berkeley professors that are too smart to teach this prereq type of class…She knows what she’s doing and presents it in a clear way, if you can understand her. I stopped going to lecture because I just couldn’t understand them. That and she makes her tests really easy…She is VERY clear and helpful. One of the best math teachers I have ever had… The tests aren’t too difficult and she is just so freakin nice, almost motherly haha.”

Section 3: Maria Ratner; MWF 2-3, 2050 VLSB
Average GPA for Ratner’s Math 1B: 2.27; 22% A-31% B-17% C-10% D-19% F
“Amazingly dedicated teacher. Demanding, but very clear and fair…if you are taking math 1b for nonmath majors don’t take her class. Her midterms are hard but bearable however her final is impossible midterms quizzes homework don’t prepare you at all…hes a tough professor but she really wants to help you out, last semester for about 1st 2 months of class no one went to her office hours and she asked us if we were scared of her, people just sat silent.”

Math 16A
Hugh Woodin;
TuTh 1230-2, 2050 VLSB
Average GPA for Woodin’s Math 16A: 2.62; 39% A-21% B-17% C-8% D-14% F

“Although the tests aren’t based on hw, they resemble the reviews. Oh and you’ll see that he loves absolute value problems ;)…The homework does not prepare you for the midterms or final at all, so why even do it. The only way to pass his class is if you’ve had calc before and understand it pretty well before taking his class…All you need to do is write down the example problems he does in class and do his practice midterm and final and you will be FINE!!! He takes the same problems from these practice tests and puts them on the actual tests. He also takes the exact problems he does in lecture…so go!!”

Math 16B
Section 1: Leo Harrington; TuTh 2-330, 155 Dwinelle
Average GPA for Harrington (upper-div class): 2.63.
“Professor Harrington, though a seemingly nice guy, is unorganized, has horrible handwriting, and has the tendency to make me fall asleep in class. He knows his stuff but forgets his notes and decides to make up example problems that only confuse things…was probably one of the worst lecturers so going to lecture is hard. But he was the nicest professor I had. He told you exactly what was going to be on both midterms and final with different numbers. If you are good at math, this class will be a sinch. I missed 0 points all year.”

Section 2: Thomas Scanlon, MWF 10-11, 10 Evans
No avg GPA given.
“I still am convinced he wrote his final for Math 1000C and not Math 16A. Some of the questions were just impossible in the alloted time…In his 16A class he used powerpoint to teach the class, his slides constantly had errors in them, his tests went above and beyond the material you learned in class…Extremely helpful and clear…willing to explain in details until you fully grasp the concept…I recommend learning from the book and going to GSI office hours. Quizzes depend on GSI, but usually they are just questions from the homework. For midterms and final study the past tests and all homework problems and you will be fine.”

Math 53
Section 1: John Neu; MWF 1-2, 2050 VLSB
Avg GPA (for Math 128A): 2.71; 40%-A, 31% B, 6% C, 6% D, 17% F
“Go to office hours if you have him for upper division because that’s the only way to do the homework!!! He is very forthcoming in what will be tested, so make sure to go to office hours before exams and prod him for those hints…I hate this man. His handwriting is atrocious. If you don’t hear him as he writes you litterally cannot tell what is on the board. He’s pretty scatterbrained. He makes weird jokes and changes his voice in order to appear funny, which, I might add, is not a substitute for sucking. Lectures is a waste of time, you might as well take up smoking…His handwriting is awful. He tells weird funny stories which are the only reason to go to lecture. His tests aren’t too hard but there is no partial credit…He’s a nice guy: helpful during office hour, and he actually makes sure that you learn.”

Section 2: John Steel; TuTh 330-5, 100 Lewis
Avg GPA (for Math 1A): 3.07; 39% A-39% B-16% C-4% D-3% F

“It’s true: Steel is quite incomprehensible at first. However, you’ll get used to his stuttering ways and messy handwriting after a few weeks, and on the plus side, his midterms are easy… He can’t handle talking to large groups of people. His midterms were too easy so the curve was brutal and little mistakes ended up costing you a good grade. The final was impossibly difficult and for several of the problems I had no idea what I was doing…He’s a nice guy, but has trouble articulating the concepts, so expect to learn a lot on your own or with the help of GSIs…Prof. Steel was adorable. He may be a little socially awkward, but how many berkeley profs aren’t? His lectures mostly consist of definitions and examples, which are VERY helpful and he is constantly trying to engage the class.”

Math H53
C Daenzer, TuTh 330-5, B51 Hildebrand
No info given.

Math 54
Section 1: D Tataru, TuTh 11-1230, 2050 VLSB
Average GPA (for Math 1B) 2.84, 29% A, 39% B, 23% C, 6% D, 3% F
” Class wasnt that hard. Tests were very difficult, but the curve meant that it was not too hard to get a good grade…DO NOT TAKE TATARU! If you have to hold off on a Math class for another semester or take him, hold off. The man seemingly loves to pull mind tricks with students on his midterms and finals, and laughs about it…he helped me prepare for math 1B. The proofs were hard to understand therefore you’ll need to listen carefully to his lectures and ask him questions if needed. He’s hard, but fair. Very clear but likes to give those extra-challenging problems…I loved math before I took this class… but not so much anymore.”

Section 2: Ken Ribet, MWF 3-4, 155 Dwinelle
Average GPA: 2.74; 25% A, 36% B, 31% C, 3% D, 4% F

“He is a very cool guy. Tests are fair… no partial credit though haha. I learned most of math54 through my friends, TA’s, and book…I definitely didn’t get all the theoretical connections between things just from lecture. I struggled with them at home and in section…Get a good GSI, I didnt and it made me go from loving math to hating it…Lectures can be a bit boring because his voice sounds so dreamy (not the good kind of dreamy). You learn most from homework and practicing problems…Very easy to communicate with because he made himself accessible through lunches, office hours, the Google Group, Facebook, and emails.”

Math 55
J Strain, TuTh 930-11, 60 Evans
Average GPA: 2.65; 28% A, 39% B, 14% C, 6% D, 13% F

“”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…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.”

Textbook Links via Amazon (the rest of the textbooks are custom and can only be ordered through campus stores)
Math 16A/16B: Calculus and its Applications (11th Edition)
Math 55: Discrete Mathematics and Its Applications

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