M408N, Differential Calculus for Scientists
Unique numbers: 55640, 55645, 55650
Lectures TuTh 9:30-11:00, JGB 2.216
55640: MW 8-9, JES A215A
55645: MW 12-1, RLM 6.120
55650: MW 4-5, RLM 5.122
Professor: Lorenzo Sadun, RLM 9.114, x1-7121,
Teaching Assistant: Andrew Lee,
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
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).
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
``crib sheet'' (2-sided) to each midterm, and 2 crib sheets to the
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
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.
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.