M408R, Calculus for Biologists
Unique numbers: 53868, 53869
Lectures MWF 2-3, CPE 2.214
53868: TuTh 5-6, BUR 130
53869: TuTh 4-5, BUR 224
Professor: Lorenzo Sadun, RLM 9.114, x1-7121,
Teaching Assistant: Sreekaavya (Kaavya) Kamireddipalli
Sadun office hours: Tu 10-11, Th 2-3. I generally keep an open
door and welcome
visitors at all times.
Calc Lab: The Math Department Calculus Lab (see
www.ma.utexas.edu/academics/undergraduate/calculus-lab/ ) is open
starting on the second week of class. This is a joint TA session for all
calculus classes taught at UT, and will be staffed at all times by multiple
TAs and undergraduate Learning Assistants. No matter what your
question, you can always get help at Calc Lab.
Textbook (required): Calculus in Context, by Callahan et al,
Available free online at
www.math.smith.edu/Local/cicintro/ . (If you want a hard copy,
it costs about $80 new on Amazon, and a lot less used.)
Software (required): You will need to buy a copy of MATLAB.
UT does have a site license
and MATLAB is loaded on all of the math department computers.
However, you will need to bring a laptop, with MATLAB loaded, to discussion
section, and occasionally to lecture.
The student edition of MATLAB costs $50, or you can get it bundled
with Simulink (a really good statistics package) for $99.
Scope of course: M408R is a 1-semester survey of calculus.
As such, it covers more ground than the first semester of a 2-sememster
sequence, but with a very different emphasis. We will cover Chapters 1-6 of
Callahan, and part of Chapter 11.
Goals for the class:
There will be in-class midterm exams on Wednesday, September 21,
Monday October 17, and
Monday, November 21.
The final exam will be on Tuesday morning, December 13, 9-12.
Exams are closed book, but you will be allowed a single sheet of
handwritten (by you!) notes for the midterms, and two sheets for the
- Learning the key ideas of calculus, which I call the
- Close is good enough (limits)
- Track the changes (derivatives)
- What goes up has to stop before is can come down (max/min)
- The whole is the sum of the parts (integrals)
- The whole change is the sum of the partial changes (fundamental theorem)
- One variable at a time.
- Learning how to analyze a scientific situation and model it
- Learning to analyze a mathematical model using calculus.
- Learning how to apply the results of the model back into the
- Learning enough formulas and calculational methods to make the
other goals possible.
There are three questions associated with every mathematical
idea in existence:
Compared to most math classes, we're going to spend a lot more time
on the first and third questions, but we still need to address the
You can't spend all
your time looking at the big picture!
You need some practice sweating the details, too.
- What is it?
- How do you compute it?
- What is it good for?
Calculators: You are welcome to use whatever you want in
class and for homework, but only very basic calculators will be
allowed on exams. If it has a screen that shows anything besides
numbers, or if it allows programs of any kind, or if it has
built-in statistical functions like linear regression, it is not allowed.
So don't waste your money on a fancy graphing calculator!! Save the expense
and buy MATLAB for your laptop instead.
We will provide you with a variety
of online learning resources on Quest, keyed to sections of the book.
These learning modules were prepared by Bill Wolosensky and me, and are
intended to explain and supplement the sections of the book that we
You are expected to study the material and
answer some fairly easy online questions before lecture.
Then, in a typical lecture session, we will discuss what you've studied
(bring questions!) and
you will work in teams on harder and more thought-provoking problems,
while I circulate and talk with you about them.
Discussion sections and worksheets (10% of course grade):
Much of your learning will come from working on tutorial worksheets
different topics. These are intended to be done in groups of 3 or 4.
You will form your groups on the first discussion day, Thursday August 25.
If you join the class later on, you will be assigned to an existing group.
We may start
on some tutorials in lecture, but the Tuesday-Thursday discussion sections
is the main place where you will work on these. Attendance is
required, and the worksheets are to be turned in at the end of the hour. If
you are absent you will receive a 0 for the worksheet, and if you
did not actively participate in your group's discussion, you may
receive a reduced grade. I will drop
your lowest 3 worksheet scores at the end of the semester.
Mini-projects (6% of course grade)
These are larger assignments to be done over a
longer time scale. They should be done in the same groups of
3 or 4 that you use for the worksheets.
I will drop your lowest score at the end of the semester.
Individual homework (9% of course grade):
You will also be given homework, mostly from the book, due roughly once every
one or two weeks. Unlike the worksheets and mini-projects, these are to
be done largely on your own.
You are welcome to talk about these problems with me, or with your
friends, but each student should turn in his or her own work, and what you
turn in should reflect your understanding.
Copying somebody else's solution
is cheating. I will drop your lowest score at the end of the semester.
Preclass/Learning Modules (5%):
Our online content delivery system is called Quest, which
can be accessed by going to the page at
logging in, and selecting this class. You will be charged a
one-time $30 fee to use this service, which is mandatory for this
class. This is where you will find your learning modules, aka preclass
There are learning modules, also known as preclass assignments
for each section of the book that we
are covering. These include videos, text, and questions for you to answer.
The questions are intended to be easy, and are mostly intended to get
you ready to learn the material in more depth in lecture.
The questions are due
at midnight the night before the class in which that section is scheduled
to be taught. Your three lowest Quest scores will be dropped at the
end of the semester.
No late work will be accepted for any reason other than
As noted elsewhere, I will
drop some of the assignment scores to allow for the fact that stuff
happens, much of it beyond our control.
Please do not ask
if I will accept a late assignment. I won't.
Academic honesty: The University is a place of honor and mutual
respect, and students deserve to be treated with courtesy and trust.
However, betraying that trust is dishonorable and unforgivable.
On an evolutionary scale,
cheaters belong somewhere between tapeworms and cockroaches.
If you are caught cheating, you will be
penalized as harshly as possible under the rules of UT.
Most students are honest, honest students do not like cheaters, and
they do report what they see.
Grading: Each midterm counts 15%. The final exam counts 25%.
The preclass homework counts 5%, the worksheets 10%,
the individual homeworks 9% and the mini-projects count 6%.
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 one
midterm, then your grade will based on 15% each for the other midterms
and 40% for the final.) If you do badly on (or miss) two or more midterms,
you're out of luck. The final exam will not substitute
for the preclass, worksheet, homework or mini-projects.
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 struggle with novel applications.
A "C" means that you understand the techniques of the class well enough
to handle a class that has M408R 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
I'm only going to adjust
cutoffs. 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
more generous 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 9. After that date, a "Q" will
appear on your record. The deadline for dropping, period, is November 1.
Religious Holidays: I have tried to schedule major class
events to avoid 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.
UT Core Requirements:
This course may be used to fulfill the mathematics component of the
university core curriculum and addresses the following three core
objectives established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating
Board: communication skills, critical thinking skills, and empirical
and quantitative skills.
Stress: If at any time you feel overwhelmed by your coursework,
or by campus life, please contact the
Counselling and Mental Health Center
Student Services Bldg (SSB), 5th Floor
Hours: M--F 8am--5pm
512 471 3515
For what it's worth, I had serious anxiety
issues myself about a dozen years ago. I know how hard it can be.
A combination of counselling and medication helped
me turn things around. There is no shame in seeking help, and the upside
can be enormous.
Guns: Open carry of firearms, and concealed carry by
people who do not hold a Licence to Carry (LTC) or a
Concealed Handgun Licence (CHL), are forbidden throughout campus.
In addition, LTC and
CHL permit holders may not bring concealed firearms to my
office (RLM 9.114).
According to state law and UT policy, I do not have the authority
to ban guns in class, in the TA office, or in CalcLab. However, I respectfully
request that licence holders do not bring their weapons to any of these
places. The mere thought of an armed classroom scares the daylights out of your
instructor, and out of many of your fellow students.