Pierre-David Letourneau

Dec 2013

So, I thought this class started off as a train wreck. It was his first semester teaching and it showed. However, he was extremely responsive throughout the semester. He usually replied to questions on piazza within an hour. He told us to let him know if there's anything we want to do to improve the course. He started off with it being very proof heavy and with long homeworks. He responded to student concerns and while the theoretical base for the class never really changed, he did less proofs and shorter homeworks as time went along. Unfortunately, while I found the course incredibly tedious at first (and agreed with some of the concerns), I found it highly inappropriate that people just completely crapped on him on piazza. I feel that can't be a great morale booster for a first time professor who is NOT THAT BAD. His lectures are fairly decent. His handwriting takes a bit to get used to, but I now know what to expect (but he still writes super tiny so sit up close). I think it is more worthwhile for you to listen intently and try to understand than take notes. He teaches pretty much from the textbook and tells you whenever what he is writing isn't in the text. I used to take notes and not understand, but felt like it got better when I tried to just listen. He does do his own examples and notes, however, so sometimes in the middle of a proof or example he'll just stand and think for a minute to see if what he is saying is right. Sometimes, he'll decide to scrap the example and move on. I never really saw him phased by a question, he could almost always explain it, but he sometimes asked students to come to discuss it during the break (he gives a very generous 15-30 minute break in the 2.5 hour lecture). He splits the homework and exams up for undergrads and grad students. Homework started off with 17 questions, then 7, then 5, usually 3 for both grad and undergrad, then 2 "practical" (computation) for undergrads and 2 "theoretical" (proof) for grad. Exams work the same way, except 2 are for both grad and undergrad, then 1 of each kind. Bottom line: There will be people who bitch who didn't put time into this class. Yes, you'll need to put time in. A lot of it. I highly recommend reading Complex Variables by Flanigan in addition to the quite good assigned book. It took a while for everything to click for me, but when it did, the course became much easier. I did well on (most) of the homeworks and I think I did very well on the final. Completely bombed the midterm. Due to his grading scheme, though, it won't hurt me. Most importantly, I came out feeling like I understood the material very well, though a lot of it was due to my own work. Would I take him again? Yeah, probably. The only thing holding me back was the exams and the final definitely tested to see if you knew the concepts more than how to compute hard math, while the midterm didn't (so he learned). Also, his TAs need to be on the same level. My homework grades varied wildly based on who graded it. I would work on it with 2 different people, we'd all hand in the same exact homework and all get different grades.