professor
Zuoliang Hou

May 2009

Professor Hou is a great math teacher. After having taken classes with him over the course of 3 years, he is one teacher that I can rely on. His lecturing style may be quick but each lecture is very clear. He breaks things down and explains concepts thoroughly, plus he draws really awesome pictures/graphs to go with almost everything. He seems very conscious of his English skills, but he speaks clearly albeit with a slight accent. On the board he is not only legible (which, in the math department is hard to find) but he writes nice and big and always steps away for you to copy down the notes. Although he may make a few mistakes during class, he doesn't make many (always double check with the textbook). His courses are the few math classes where I studied more often from my notes than from the textbook. For all of the courses, he has a different strategy for grade breakdown, but it never strays too far from a standard h/w-midterm-massive final mold. His course website always is up-to-date with assignments, assignment solutions, and dates of tests/exams. He usually posts practice midterm(s) and final with solutions and gives a little review of topics before each. He may seem kinda awkward, that is because he is. Thus, he may seem unapproachable, but do not fear, you can usually find him napping/wearing awesome slippers in his office during office hours because nobody goes. He has office hours twice a week (for A+O an additional problem session on fridays) and he is always happy to explain things if you just ask! The bottom line: he covers material in a timely fashion, and he is organized. If you want to actually learn some math and not just stumble through a course, Hou is the man. It is totally possible to get a good grade in the course if you put the necessary effort in, and I would say the grading in the courses is consistently fair (curved to a B/B+ avg). If you have the opportunity, take Hou. (his vast collection of sweater-vests is also a plus)

Jan 2009

By-the-book (literally), fair, and utterly unremarkable professor. Mind you I'm writing this review more than a year after the course, but it was really quite ordinary, about what you'd expect from a large lecture where you do the problem sets, take the tests, and you're done. I got the tools I needed for more advanced classes and I have no complaints. Problem sets were weekly with one dropped, entirely fair. Lectures were boring when I went and followed the textbook almost to the letter. Professor Hou's English was fine, and he's nice enough. As I recall, the midterms were much easier than the final, which incorporated some not-in-the-textbook material introduced in the last lecture, which I didn't attend. Oops.

Jan 2009

This is the first semester I take with Prof. Hou. t has been my best experience in the math department. he is really great. As a previous reviewer points out, he is the most straightforward Prof you'll find in the dept. Also, he is very nice and approachable. I am not particularly great in math, and furthermore when i took this class, i had so much going on, still i was able to do better because his lectures were so clear, and he was very helpful. i would absolutely recommend him to another student, as I think he is the clearest professor i've had. he does a good job in teaching, and he tests on what he teaches, no funky business. I wished i'd taken calc III or IV with him because i would know what those classes are actually about. instead i took those classes with terrible professors that were obsessed with making us learn stuff that wasn't even on the book, as a result i actually ended up learning this stuff in another class that wasn't math. Briefly, my suggestion if you happen to be wondering about any of Prof. Hou's class is that you should absolutely give it a try.

Dec 2008

Oh my goodness, DDDDD: is the only accurate representation of this class/ professor. Hou zooms through the lectures without pausing to see whether we understand or not (which I, even as a math major, often didn't) and if someone asks him a question he acts annoyed. I remember one time he was going over solutions to a practice midterm, and JUST barely finished before class was over. Then, he proceeded to tell us, "Well, I had time to finish all the problems on the practice midterm, so you guys should have time to finish the midterm too." ...Wait, what? No, Zuoliang Hou. No.

Dec 2007

I've taken two other semesters with Prof. Hou (Calc III and IV) and I expected no less from him this semester. I've reviewed him before and again I must say he is as straightforward as you could possibly want from the Math department. He follows the text, but will extend to more challenging material even though it won't be on the exams. He emphasizes what will be on the exams, which are primarily drawn from the homework. He is very nice and extremely approachable, and is also very knowledgeable. Even though many people say to take Linear Algebra through the Applied Math dept. for various reasons, if you still want the theory and a good instructor, go with Hou.

May 2007

Dr. Hou offered an ideal Calc III experience, for the first fifteen weeks or so of his class. When I alighted in the basement of the Math building at 9 AM for his first lecture, I was charmed by the clarity of his presentation and by his accent, which adds rather than detracts from the class. After conquering the first few problem sets, I stopped going to lecture, but was able to score reasonably well on the problem sets (which he either gives you a grade or an exemption from if you turn in reasonably late) and exceptionally well on both the midterms because Dr. Hou's expectations were so transparent. With the confidence of James Cook on the Big Island of Hawaii, I sailed into the final on three hours of sleep, having spent the last night packing my boxes and wishing my floor would stop playing Mario Kart so I could go to bed, sat down next to a shifty, distracting TA, and found myself completely overwhelmed by a test that was significantly harder than either of the midterms. I handed my test in with a modicum of confidence, thinking maybe a particularly voluptuous curve would save me from Captain Cook's fate, but two days later, I was rewarded for my sloth with a very gentlemanly grade, thus fucking up my entire semester academically and making me look like a quantitative doofus to future employers. Ah, what could have been.

Jan 2007

First off, don't even bother with calc II unless your major requires it. No matter how strong a math student you think you are, Calc II will be very difficult, no doubt about it. Taking this class with Hou does not make this any better. Hou does not speak english very well, and has little sympathy for his students. He teaches at a very fast pace, and gets very irritated when students ask a lot of questions. Eventually I decided to stop going to this class because it made me feel horrible about myself. It is not a stretch to say that his class inspires low self confidence. Very few people in my class seemed to actually understood anything that went on, and many lived at the math help room.

Jan 2007

Many students find the content of Calculus II to be difficult, so difficulty understanding the material is probably due at least in part to the nature of the material. I found Prof. Hou a good, fair professor. He was neither exceptionally good nor exceptionally bad. Prof. Hou was thorough during his lectures in that he covered example problems of varying difficulty (easy to introduce the topic, difficult when reviewing for an upcoming midterm or final). Some other reviewers have commented on his tendency to leave a problem undone and to tell the class to "finish it on your own." I did not think this occurred frequently. In addition, because of the number and variety of problems we covered during class, he probably couldn't have finished every intricate problem during class. He did provide many opportunities for office hours (some said he was condescending during office hours; I never found him so, so if you're having trouble, don't be afraid to talk to him). I did not have a problem with Prof. Hou's accent, but the problem in communication was that he did not know how much more he knew than did the class. He's a very bright guy, and at times (especially toward the end of the semester with sequences, series and the rest), his explanations were non-intuitive and confusing. There was a very generous curve, and Prof. Hou's grading in general is very fair or lenient. He's definitely a choice to consider, and he's a nice person.

Nov 2006

I only took the course as a refresher to Calc II thinking I would go in and get an easy A. If you are thinking the same, don't take Hou. He has an adorable accent, but other than that I recommend staying away. He tends to skip over things he thinks we should know when doing examples or, better yet, pulls a random number while saying "I choose this number because I know it works." I've had worse math teachers and he is still understandable and fairly easy to follow, he just doesn't exactly make it that easy on us. He also isnt very approachable. The language barrier certainly has something to do with it but in my opinion he just doesn't give off a friendly air. For example when he went over a midterm and people asked questions about it, he seemed visibly perturbed. Again, if you are looking for an easy A, just bite the bullet and take Calc III. If you have not yet taken Calc II then Hou isnt a BAD teacher, you just must be prepared to work.

Nov 2006

This man is a genius, No question about it. But despite the fact that he is a genius, I do not feel I learn much from going to the class. I come out of class more confused than when I came in and sometimes I feel like he cannot explain things fully. Some quotes from him are "Don't ask how I got that, I just know it" , "No more examples you would not understand anyway." , "As you can see the Answer is very complicated so you can do it on your own" and "Well, you can't actually finish the problem so forget what I just taught you". Basically I would advise not taking the class with him unless you are very good at teaching yourself from a book and are Very VERY proficient in calculus. Besides lectures he gives a lot of partial credit and is truly a brilliant nice guy, just not a very good professor.

Jan 2006

Of all the classes I took, this one is hardest to evaluate. First off, the class itself is VERY tough, so don't go into it expecting it to be otherwise. Professor Hou is a relatively young instructor, he just finished his Ph.D from MIT. So clearly he's brilliant. He is amiable, wants his students to learn/do well, and has a extraordinary grasp on his subject. However, he likes highly theoretical aspects of math, and this is somewhat reflected in his teaching style. He forgets sometimes that he's teaching undergrads, and that not everyone has his level of mathematical knowledge. His speech is a bit accented still, but nothing that actually causes problems. He does not put proofs on his exams, which is a huge blessing. His problem sets however are quite difficult, and sometimes feel they have little to do with what shows up on the exam. Although he is a good instructor, and will become better I believe the more he teaches, I'd steer clear of this math class if you can, especially if you aren't a math major. If you are a math major, you'll probably love it.

Jan 2006

Zuoliang is a great teacher and really looks out for his students. I personally was falling into the great Satan of laziness and homework-neglecting and Zuoliang was still able to find mercy in the crevices of the walls of his office during office hours. That's all there is to it. Just do the easy homeworks in groups, go once in a while during office hours, and work with the man: his ability to give bad grades is about just as bad as his english. Oh, and the english: don't even bother going to class - I just read the textbook and the study guide for Stewart (a must have!) and got more out of that than the class itself.

Jan 2006

Professor Hou's Calc III class is tough yet very fair. The pace is fairly quick and students may become lost if they do not read over the material before class. This said, the class follows the textbook exactly and many of the homework problems may be found in the text or solution manual. It really pays to attend class since Professor Hou goes through a good deal of very helpful example problems. The problem sets are usually difficult but you have all week to work on them so they shouldn't present too much of a problem. The midterms were easier than the problem sets but they still required an understanding of the material, rather than mere memorization of formulas. Make sure you keep all of your psets and midterms. The final is comprehensive and fair, and Professor Hou provides very nice review materials. Overall, Professor Hou is a very fair grader and an enthusiastic teacher. He is very conscious of his accent, despite the fact that he is understandable. Professor Hou also makes an effort to answer any questions and to help students during office hours. He is a very decent professor overall.

Jan 2006

Hou is an extremely kind person who gives very fair midterms and a final that I found extremely easy. However, he is not a very effective lecturer. He is not confident in his ability to speak English and he often taught concepts with minimal explanation or examples. I feel I basically taught all the course material to myself by reading the textbook. However, I did end up with an A+ in the course so his grading is obviously not too harsh.

Jan 2006

He is easy to understand and not terribly difficult. He is the first math professor that I could understand at Columbia (he speaks clear english). His tests are not difficult and he gives practice tests that mimick the real ones. If you have to take Calc III, save urself and take it with this professor.

Dec 2005

oh terter. the most entertaining professor of this year. pretty good professor - he teaches the material pretty well, works straight out of the textbook. you honestly could not go to class, because everything he does is from the book, and if it's not, he posts supplementary notes. but not only do you get a good professor, but also entertainment as well! with precious gems such as "terda" "kakurus" and "LAAgrange MurtiPRIers" the class is great. his cool recovery from constantly tripping over the lectern in the corner is also a great source of humor. take hou.

Nov 2005

Dr. Hou is a really good teacher. He is very approachable, knowledgable. Overall, a rather nice fellow. He assigns a very doable problem set every week. His class is easy to follow. Although his pronunciation of tilda resembles an amphibious mutant ninja, he is a swell man. Take Calc III with this professor. He's real fly.

Nov 2005

Zuoliang Hou is a thorough teacher, although he doesn't stray from the book at all. He's always willing to answer questions and help out. He's a very charming chap. If you are able to follow along in the lectures and do the homework, you should get an A. However, the real reason you absolutely must take Zuoliang Hou is not his teaching ability. Rather, it is his outrageously hilarious accent. It really sounds like something from a badly dubbed foreign film. The Calculus III experience was taken to another level when I heard him say "tirdur" or "cyancoolis" (you can guess what these words are) Take Zuoliang Hou, you will learn Calculus III and also pick up a great deal of material for your stand up comedy act. Big up Dr. Hou!

Sep 2005

It's basically feast or famine, you either get the stuff that Hou teaches or not. I did great in Calc II and then bombed Calc III, which says a lot. Going to class helps somewhat, but doing his problem sets and practice tests helps the most. Basically his tests are the hardest questions from the practice tests and problem sets, so if you decide to go to only a few classes, go to the ones that he shows you how to do the practice tests. If you know how to do the practices, then you'll do fine.

Jun 2005

Zuoliang Hou is a good teacher. He grades very leniently, explains the material quite well, and is very accessible. And he grades the final the same day, so that people can argue for more points if they need them. Although he gave a couple of people the points they needed to pass, when I found the single point needed to earn an A+, he changed the curve. So up until the day after the final, I was quite enjoying the class.

May 2005

Hou is a great guy, very approachable, concerned about his students' needs, well organized and efficient. But he ain't easy. I call him "the express train," because he's quick, efficient, and speedy in his lectures, so either you pay close attention or fall behind. And the weekly problem sets are usually harder than anything you'll find in the book. Exams aren't bad though, if you keep up with the homework and study. Hou is the kind of professor who really forces you to learn the material. Should you expect an easy A? No. But by the end of the class, you'll understand Calc 3 better than you understand why Raskolnikov killed those two women.

May 2005

Like another reviewer said, the negative reviews have no real basis. I've had Hou for a full year, and I really enjoyed the class (and I'm not a math major). His explanations are usually clear and understandable, despite the 9AM class time. There are two midterms: the first one is somewhat easier than the second. His reviews give a pretty good estimation of the actual test. Be prepared to think rather than just spit out formulas. No "real" HW, but weekly quizzes straight from the suggested problems. Just a tip: if there's one problem you can't seem to get right for hours, there's a 99% chance he will put it on the quiz (so find a friend!). Listen to his lectures carefully, and you may be able to catch gems like "verse visa" and "choose arbitrary".

Apr 2005

I took Hou for Calc 3 and Calc 4. I generally disagree with most of the negative statements about Hou thats written below me. He is a young MIT graduate who just started teaching here. He's extremely intelligent and a really nice guy. Of course there is a language barrier, and his spelling is off here and there but he doesnt mind stopping during lectures if you have questions. I have heard of some horrible stories about other math professors, but Hou is a fair man. Don't expect to breeze through this class, you will have to study and you will have to do your homework, but one great thing about Hou is NO WEBWORKS. For both Calc 3 and Calc 4, I found that his first midterm was significantly easier than the second midterm, so you should probably do as best as you can on the first midterm. His miterms are fair, and his reviews do help. He will discuss the major topics that will be on the exams. He's a really nice guy, which is why I dont understand why all these people are hating on him. Most other math professors are terrible, which is why i decided to take Hou again for Calc 4.

Jan 2005

Neither excellent, nor awful. Does not speak clear English, but that is to be somewhat expected in the math dept. Sometimes book homeworks can be confusing. He's not too bad, but I wouldn't highly recommend him either.

Jan 2005

I've had teachers with accents before and they've been fine professors, so I don't think people can use his accent as an excuse (even though it is terribly thick). I don't feel like he cared how his students did. He came in every class and wrote on the board for the duration with minimum explanation. As said in some of the other reviews, he often grew annoyed when students asked him a question, and merely repeated what he had just said, albeit in an angrier tone, often while repeatedly pointing to what he wrote on the board. Maybe in this case his English is to blame; in one memorable instance he said something along the lines of "I'm sorry, my English isn't too good. If you have any questions, just refer to the book," and that is exactly what most of the class had to do throughout the course. That's not the kind of quality I want out of a professor at Columbia. I might have spent my time better reading a chapter of the book during every class rather than trying to learn from him. I scored a 5 on the calc AB AP test, but his class made me forget that I was ever good in Math or that I ever enjoyed it. I would highly recommend avoiding Hou if at all possible, and the overwhelming majority of people I knew in the class would suggest the same.

Jan 2005

Zuoliang Hou is clearly a very intelligent man who thoroughly understands the material that he is teaching. His problem is that he teaches as if the class is as knowledgeable as he is, which means that he breezes through everything, failing to provide adequate explanation and examples. If one doesn't read the corresponding chapter in the textbook and fully understand it prior to coming to class, he or she will probably not understand the lecture. In my personal experience, the textbook was a far greater help than the instructor. In addition to his failure to explain the material, he will get visibly upset when a student doesn't understand a concept. Questions in class are met with contempt and explanations that rehash something he just said. Since it clearly didn't get the point across the first time, repeating it isn't going to do any good. The class has little to no idea how he arrives at a final grade. While we are given a rubrik, stating that 20% is homework, 40% is the two midterms, and 40% is the final, there are still many things left unexplained. Students are unaware how WebWork is factored into the homework grade, if at all. What's more concerning is how the midterms and the final are curved, which is never mentioned. If one were to ask him about a curve, he becomes defensive. Also, he has a very thick accent and is just very hard to understand. This clearly isn't his fault, but it does limit his own ability to explain himself. This adds to the apparent frustration he displays over being asked questions, as I mentioned above. Avoid this instructor if at all possible.

Jan 2005

Professor Hou really knows his stuff, and really wants students to do well. For a non-native speaker, his English is actually better than he thinks it is, but he's very timid about his language skills. As a result, he usually isn't quite loud enough to be heard throughout the room. His teaching is okay, but not great. He posts his notes after class, so that people can get away without writing down everything he puts on the board. If you do the homework, and use the book, you can probably follow along. He's also pretty good about helping students during office hours. You just have to be willing to reach out to him...

Dec 2004

Good class, well explained, straightfoward. He knows and explains how the equations are derived and although it may seem a little boring he doesn't test on the derivations which is nice - if you are into that, pay attention and learn it, it can't hurt, but if not, you don't have to worry about being tested on it. If you go to class, do the webwork a few days in advance of when it is due so you have time to go to the Math Help Room, do the homework (note: student solutions manual in Math Library very helpful) do some practice problems in the book and do every review problem he gives you, you will be fine. Plus, some of the questions on his tests are directly from the book or from the review problems.

Dec 2004

Yes he does he have a pretty thick accent, but who doesn't have an accent in the math department. His classes were usually taught a very fast pace (often he was doing one problem, and youre still writing down the last problem). However, Professor Hou knows the material very very well. At first he might not appear that approachable, but it's just the fact that his english is not that good and he gets kinda frustrated when you don't understand him. He was always willing to explain difficult concepts during his office hours. Tests were pretty difficult, however, do-able. Overall, an average math professor and a pretty average class.

Dec 2004

Not a terrible teacher, but wouldn't be one I recommend. He tends to block the board while he is writing the notes which makes you have to work double time to copy down what you need for the exams. He also doesn't explain concepts too well, and is often baffled when you have a question. The Calc III material is not TOO too difficult, as long as you are willing to go to class (although Hou does post his notes online, or at least tries to) and do the homework. Overall mediocre teacher with a rather easy workload.

Dec 2004

Do not take this man for calculus 2, in fact try to avoid cal 2 if possible, you do not want to suffer through its horrors, and this is coming from an seas student who loves math, but cal 2 is horrible, but if you must DO NOT TAKE ZOULUANG HOU