M408N, Differential Calculus for Scientists

  • Unique numbers: 55640, 55645, 55650
  • Lectures TuTh 9:30-11:00, JGB 2.216
  • Discussion Sections:
    55640: MW 8-9, JES A215A
    55645: MW 12-1, RLM 6.120
    55650: MW 4-5, RLM 5.122
  • Web page: http://www.ma.utexas.edu/users/sadun/F12/M408N
  • Professor: Lorenzo Sadun, RLM 9.114, x1-7121, sadun@math.utexas.edu
  • Teaching Assistant: Andrew Lee, alee@math.utexas.edu
  • Sadun office hours: M10-11, W2-3. I generally keep an open door and welcome visitors at all times.
  • TA office hours: (Thanks to a truly idiotic interpretation of federal privacy rules, UT says I'm not allowed to list this yet.)
  • Textbook (required): Calculus, Early Transcendentals, by Stewart, 7th edition (The UT custom edition from a couple of years ago is missing chapter 9, which you'll need in M408S, but it should be OK for M408N).
  • Prerequisites: This class is restricted to students in the College of Natural Sciences who have scored 70% or higher on the ALEKS assessment. If you do not meet these conditions, you will be dropped from the class around September 4.
  • Calculators and computers: A basic scientific calculator may be useful for checking your homework, but you don't need a fancy programmable graphing calculator. (You can also check your work with Wolfram Alpha or something similar.) However, calculators and other electronic aids are not allowed on exams, so get used to doing most of your work by hand! (You'll learn a lot more doing things yourself than relying on technology.)
  • Syllabus: The beginning through Section 5.3 of the book, with occasional skipped sections. You can find an online day-by-day schedule here. This course carries the Quantitative Reasoning flag. Quantitative Reasoning courses are designed to equip you with skills that are necessary for understanding the types of quantitative arguments you will regularly encounter in your adult and professional life.
  • Philosophy: Calculus has a reputation of being a hard class that features a million different equations to be memorized. There are a lot of formulas and techniques, but almost everything boils down to six simple ideas. If (when!) you understand those ideas, and think about how each new formula or technique follows from those ideas, then everything will become much, much easier.
  • "Flipped" classes: Traditionally, lectures were for presenting material, homework was for practicing it, and discussion sections and office hours were for feedback and help. Unfortunately, that model only works with a small fraction of the class! Instead, in M408N we will provide you with a variety of online learning resources. You are expected to study this material, and complete a fairly easy preclass assignment, before lecture. Then, in a typical lecture session, you will work in teams on harder and more thought-provoking problems, while the learning assistants and I circulate and talk with you about them. If a lot of people hit the same roadblock, I'll probably stop and explain. Afterwards, I'll indicate how the ideas of the problems fit in with the material you studied, and with the Six Pillars. There may be occasional lectures on ideas that I consider especially important, but there will probably be fewer than 6 of these all semester.
  • Discussion sections: These are not just glorified office hours. This is where you'll get the written homework, start working on it, and (the following week) turn it in. Attendance is required.
  • Homework (20% of course grade): As you know, you learn math by doing math. The expectation is that the work you do beyond the five hours of class and discussion will require around 8-10 hours per week of your time. Yes, that's a lot, but calculus classes with a lot of homework have done much better than classes with light homework loads. Getting through calculus is the key to getting a degree in Natural Sciences, and doing homework is the key to getting through calculus. See hw.html for the latest information.
    No late work will be accepted for any reason. As noted below, we will drop some of the assignment scores to allow for legitimate reasons for not turning in an assignment (left it at home, computer crashed the night the Quest was due, Quest crashed at the last minute, ill with the flu, didn't get the assignment in time, didn't know the due date, did the wrong assignment, family emergency, etc.) Please do not ask if we will accept a late assignment. We will not.
    Written work (8%): At the beginning of each discussion section, you will be given a written assignment consisting of several interesting and challenging problems. You will work in class on one or more of these problems, as directed by the TA, during the discussion. You will continue to work outside of class on these problems, and then your carefully written solutions will be collected at the beginning of the first discussion on Monday of the following week. Some of the problems will be graded. In order to receive credit, you must put your name and unique number and time of your discussion section at the top of the page and show all of your work. Your exercises must be well-labeled, neat, and in order, and the work must be stapled. Above all, your assignment must be turned in before the discussion begins. There will be approximately a dozen such weekly assignments; we will drop the lowest two.
    Online work: Our online content delivery system is called Quest, which can be accessed by going to the page at https://quest.cns.utexas.edu/, logging in, and selecting this class. You will be charged a one-time $25 fee to use this service, which is mandatory for this class. There are approximately 25 of each of two types of online assignments for this class; the lowest 5 scores of each will be dropped.
    Preclass (6%): Quest preclass work consists of online learning modules that, along with the current section of the text, are designed to help you learn the basics of the material that will be used in depth in the next class, and a preclass assignment that you will do to ensure you have absorbed the information from the learning modules and text. The preclass assignment will be due at 9am each class day (Tuesday and Thursday). The learning modules may consist of some videos about the material, text to read, and/or some questions to answer.
    Postclass (6%): Quest postclass assignments will summarize the material discussed during class, and will be due at 6pm the day before the subsequent class (Monday and Wednesday).
  • Academic honesty: Cheating is dishonorable and disgusting, and on an evolutionary scale, cheaters lie somewhere between tapeworms and cockroaches. Most students are honest, and honest students do not like cheaters, and they do report what they see. If you are caught cheating, you will be penalized as harshly as possible under the rules of UT. Do not cheat.

    On homework, there is a fine line between collaboration (which is encouraged) and cheating. The more you explain your reasoning to others, the clearer it will be to you! In the end, however, you are expected to only turn in what you personally worked and checked. Learning from your friends is fine; blindly copying their answers, or getting Wolfram Alpha to do your homework, is not. When in doubt, consult your conscience.
  • Exams: There will be two in-class midterm exams, on Thursday September 20 and Thursday October 25 (right before drop day), plus a final exam on Tuesday morning, December 18, 9-12. These exams will all be closed book and calculators will not be allowed. However, each student will be allowed to bring a single letter-sized ``crib sheet'' (2-sided) to each midterm, and 2 crib sheets to the final. These notes must be HANDWRITTEN ORIGINALS - NO XEROXING ALLOWED.
  • Grading: The first midterm counts 20%. The second counts 30%. The final exam counts 30%. The homework, taken together, counts 20%. If you do badly on a midterm, or miss a midterm for any reason, then I will substitute the final exam in its place. (E.g., if you bomb the first midterm, then your grade will be 20% homework, 30% second midterm, and 50% final.) If you do badly on (or miss) both midterms, you're out of luck. The final exam will not substitute for the homework grade, so do your homework and rack up points the easy way.

    The final grade distribution is neither a straight scale nor a fixed curve. The cutoffs will be set at the end of the semester, based on overall class performance, with the following qualitative standard for the major grades (with obvious adjustments for plusses and minuses):
  • An "A" means that you understand the ideas of the course well enough that you can use them even in unusual settings.
  • A "B" means that you can do the standard problems we have done during the semester, but can't do anything new.
  • A "C" means that you understand the techniques of the class well enough to handle a class (such as M408S) that has M408N as a prerequisite.
  • A "D" means that you have learned a substantial amount, but that you are not prepared to take that successor course.
  • An "F" means that you have failed to grasp the essential concepts of the course.

    Grading isn't an exact science, and with one exception I'm only going to adjust cutoffs. (The exception is that, if you are close to the C-/D cutoff, and if you demonstrate on the final that you know enough to handle M408S, then I will give you a C- for the class. This exception will affect at most a couple of people.) Aside from that exception, nobody will leapfrog anybody else; if you have more points than your buddy, then your grade will be at least as good as your buddy's. Furthermore, a 90% average will guarantee you at least an A-, an 80% average a B-, and a 70% average a C-. My cutoffs are usually much more lenient than that, but each semester is unique.
  • Disabilities: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4641 TTY
  • Drop dates: The deadline for dropping the class without the course appearing on your transcript is September 14. After that date, a "Q" will appear on your record. The deadline for dropping, period, is November 6.
  • Religious Holidays: I have tried to schedule major class events to avoid major religious holidays, and I apologize if I overlooked something. If you expect to miss class or miss an assignment because of a religious holiday, please let me know 14 days in advance, and you will be given the opportunity to make up the missed work within a reasonable time.