professor
Panagiota Daskalopoulos

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

May 2021

It's very clear that Prof Daskalopoulos thinks we already know a lot of the material. She went very quickly and many of us were often left to learn a lot from the book. She pushed for engagement but didn't really respond well to questions... or answers. Her exams felt really hard when we took them, but the median was normal (usually mid 70s) and she ended up giving a slight curve on our term grades. I'd taken high school calculus relatively recently but the class was still high effort, so maybe consider a different professor if you are new to calc or haven't taken it in a while!!

Jan 2021

I took calculus I during Fall 2020, which means it was an online class. I have no idea what things would have been like if classes were in person, so take this with a grain of salt. Toti is a lovely teacher. She makes herself available to help students and answers questions very patiently. She was very mindful of international students in different timezones, especially regarding the final exam, and always did revisions in the class before any examination. She's also very friendly and she talked a lot about how she used the stuff she taught us in class in her research, which, at least for me, made the content more interesting. This was the first time Toti taught Calculus I. She's used to teaching higher-level classes. Because of this, sometimes she assumed some things were obvious to us or solved things in a very different fashion from what high school students are probably used to. This made some explanations confusing, but this only happened a few times, mostly in the first classes, before she understood what pace worked best. I think something Toti still has to improve is that she often had typos or little mistakes in her class notes or while solving some problems, so we lost at least a couple of minutes of class every now and then because of that. Still, it was okay and sometimes her mistakes helped me not repeat them in exams lol. Overall, I really liked taking this class with her.

Dec 2020

Professor Toti was an amazing professor for Calc I! She usually teaches higher-level math courses but somehow she ended up teaching intro Calculus this year and I would definitely recommend taking the course with her if you can. I would say, in general, the difficulty level and time commitment associated with her section is on par with other sections of this course. However, she tends to focus more attention on the “conceptual side of the material rather than pure “computations. For example, her lectures included a lot of “mini-proofs, very unrigorous induction reasoning examples, that illustrated concepts. Her exams incorporated a lot of these types of problems. If you aren’t someone who excels with more ‘abstract’ manners of thinking about math and logic, while this course is certainly doable, I would recommend taking this class with someone else, where the instruction sticks to calculations & non-conceptual applications. We had weekly homework for the class that took at most 2 hours per set. TAs graded with a fine-tooth comb but since it was only worth 10% of the final grade, it wasn’t too big of a worry. As for assessments, we had two midterm exams, each worth 25% of the final grade, and one final exam worth 40% of the final grade. Exams were not on the hard side and were graded pretty generously, with extremely liberal amounts of partial credit given. The means for the three exams were as follows: 87.8, 86.1, and 86.9. I thought these numbers were a bit on the high-side which definitely reflected the previous two factors (I will say Zoom proctoring was not very strict so draw your own conclusions). As for the Professor herself, she has a great approach to teaching! Her lectures were always clear and she definitely takes the time to stop for any clarifying questions and is very responsive to requests for further examples. She is extremely helpful during office hours and if the pre-set schedule doesn’t work for you, she takes the time to set up extra times to talk. I really appreciated that she enjoys teaching, even if it is for such a rudimentary course, and actually makes an effort to connect with students (she is almost chatty in OH!). It’s really refreshing to see someone in her academic rank to make such great efforts for teaching!

Jan 2020

Prof. Daskalopolous / “Toti was an amazing prof for ODE!! I took this the semester after Linear Algebra (which is definitely a prerequisite, aka do not try to take this at the same time as linear) and managed fine. Some people in the class had a more rigorous theoretical background, but it is not absolutely necessary. The course is definitely more proof heavy than its 2030 counterpart, though, from what I’ve heard. Toti was a caring and conscientious professor, and she was very accessible in OH and after class. She is extremely sweet and I felt like she actually cared about my success in her course. Her exams were fair, and she tried to hint at what would be on each (hint: existence and uniqueness!!). She would also occasionally tell us what would NOT be on the exams. The midterm had more theory than I expected, but it wasn’t too bad. And the final material evenly pulled from the entire course material. The midterm was definitely more challenging than the final, which she admitted. Topics covered included first order ODEs, second order and high ODEs, series solutions (review power series!), systems of ODEs (linear algebra applied here), Laplace transforms (incl. impulse functions, step functions, convolution integral). It definitely feels like a lot of material after the midterm. She curved the midterm 10 flat points (post curve avg was in 70s), unsure about curve on the final, but the average was a 65. I finished with an A in the course, scoring 15-20 points about the mean on both exams and having nearly full points for homework. Landing in the A-range is definitely achievable for the dedicated student, as the exams directly reflect the notes. Overall, ODE is a wonderful experience with Prof. D. Her great teaching makes it worth the extra difficulty of taking this course vs. 2030.

Dec 2019

To be fair, I think much of the difficulty I had in this class came from the fact that this being the 3000-level of ODE, I wasn't prepared to compete with a smarter bunch of students than the 2000 level of the course. That being said, she was a good professor and much of the previous reviews about her teaching style continue to remain true. I would definitely argue that this class was slightly difficult, although she did say to us that she had made the exam harder, thinking that we were a more capable class (not sure what she was talking about in my case). The exams were not easy with the average of the midterm being a 67 (she added ten points to everyone's score for some reason) and the average of the final being a 65. Thus, not impossible, but certainly not easy by math department standards (i.e. somewhere below the ludicrously high averages of calc ii/iii and above the devastating averages in modern algebra and/or analysis). That being said, ODE intellectually can be quite dull at times. I recommend taking the 3000 level to people who need more mental stimulation because seeing some more proofs and being tested on it while, at times, a bit harder and tedious to memorize the proofs was certainly better than simply chugging through mindless equations that people give to computers in practice nowadays anyway. Overall, I've heard she curves to an A-/B+ and won't give out grades lower than a B minus except for extreme circumstances.

Dec 2019

To be fair, I think much of the difficulty I had in this class came from the fact that this being the 3000 level of ODE, I wasn't prepared to compete with a smarter bunch of students than the 2000 level of the course. That being said, she was a good professor and much of the previous reviews about her teaching style continue to remain true. I would definitely argue that this class was slightly difficult, although she did say she to us that she had made the exam harder, thinking that we were a more capable class (not sure what she was talking about in my case). The exams were not easy with the average of the midterm being a 67 (she added ten points to everyone's score for some reason) and the average of the final being a 53. Thus, not impossible, but certainly not easy by math department standards (i.e. somewhere below the ludicrously high averages of calc ii/iii and above the devastating averages in modern algebra and / or analysis). That being said, ODE intellectually can be quite dull at times. I recommend taking the 3000 level to people who need more mentla stimulation because seeing some more proofs and being tested on it while, at times, a bit harder and tedious to memorize the proofs was certainly better than simply chugging through mindless equations that people give to computers in practice nowadays anyway. Overall, I've heard she curves to an A-/B+ and wont give out grades lower than a B minus except for extreme circumstances.

Aug 2016

This class was not particularly hard or interesting. The Professor generally lectures straight from the textbook so you are welcome to just read the textbook if you don’t want to go to class. The problems in this class are fairly algorithmic; you usually just have to identify the type of differential equation and then use the provided technique to spit out the answer. The examples in class are usually useful to see how one should think about the problems, so I would recommend going to class over reading the textbook. The answers to all the homework problems are in the back of the book which makes the homework average very high. The issue is that Panagiota is not always aware of what she put on the homework, so there might be problems from a section that was not explicitly covered in class, in which case you simply have to learn another formula and apply it to the required problems. Her exams are not particularly difficult, though there was one question from left field on both her first midterm and the final. Overall, this is a fairly straightforward class with a decent textbook and an alright teacher, but don’t expect much from her in terms of email or office hours.

Jan 2015

My final impression of this course is a positive one. I found Daskalopoulos to be sweet and accommodating, and the class progressed at a reasonable pace. The majority of the classes were spent first deriving theorems/discussing techniques, and then going over a few examples. Perhaps sometimes she spent too long explicitly writing out each step of a proof, although I she certainly isn't painfully slow. She certainly knows the material and is able to answer any question confidently, understanding common pitfalls that many students have. While working through examples, however, she often makes many algebraic mistakes, although a handful of students who always seem to be paying very close attention always are there to correct her. She makes herself available and approachable, and was receptive to increasing, within reason, students' midterm grades who were graded by an unusually harsh TA. The class itself certainly won't be your favorite math class at Columbia, with material being a toolbox of techniques, such that whenever you see a problem, you must only identify which technique is appropriate and the answer should produce itself. From class to class progress can seem slow, although at the end you do realize that you have covered many techniques. The homework usually was a little more tedious than I would have liked. The examples from the book (Boyce & DiPrima) usually are not too polished, and will often have you writing many pages of algebra for certain problems. I found the problem sets always took between 3-6 hours a week, so it's not too bad. Having said that, if you do all the homework (which is worth almost nothing) you'll hardly have to study at all for the midterm / final. I thought those tests were extremely reasonable tests, with a perfect score being well within the reach of an attentive, responsible student. You should be familiar with all the aspects of the existence/uniqueness proofs, which apparently tripped up many students. The most helpful way to study for these tests, I found, is to make a study sheet that just lists all the different techniques you've learned and familiarize yourself with them before the test. While not too glamorous, ODEs with Daskalopolous is a pleasant, straightforward experience

May 2014

This class was definitely not one of the better math classes I have taken. I think most people were rather apathetic about the experience and didn’t feel too strongly about the course in either sense. I found the course straightforward and easy to do well in, but less enjoyable and rewarding than other more challenging math classes that required more ingenuity. The class follows the textbook by Walter Strauss extremely closely, covering chapters 1 through 7. The lectures are so similar to the pages of the textbook to the point that the textbook was often a perfectly good substitute for attending lectures. The lectures themselves are okay, but she does get confused and make mistakes on the board more often than would be optimal. She is very often late to class, and end up rushing at the end and inevitably running overtime. She warned the class on the first day that this class is taught at a higher level than ODEs, with the justification that other departments offer more applied courses in PDEs. This is not wrong, but I also found that this class was taught at a lower level of sophistication than most of the other math classes I have taken. The class is mostly computational, as reflected by the proportion of the problems on homework and exams that were computations. A small number of short proofs are presented in lecture (and the textbook), and most of the proofs on homework and exams were simple variations of the proofs from lecture. For the exams, remembering the proofs from lecture should be enough to complete those problems. The weekly homework assignments were pretty long, with most having around 10 problems from the book. Most of the problems are straightforward, though a few are more challenging, and many are quite heavy computationally. Some of the problems just seemed like filler. I think a lot of students used online solutions to complete the homework assignments. I ultimately think the homework assignments were a negative in this class because grading was extremely slow, with some assignments taking as long as a month to be returned, and solutions were not posted until immediately before the exams. I found the exams very straightforward and reasonable. Most of the questions on the exam testing the material in the most straight-forward way possible. Some of the questions were simple tests of whether you remembered a definition/formula/proof, and these things were easy to pick out when studying because she never asked anything remotely obscure.

Jan 2013

Prof. Daskalopoulos is definitely one of the sweetest professors I've had in my 1.5 yrs at Columbia personality-wise. She's very approachable during office hours and always responded to my emails in a timely manner. I got kind of sick of the class after a while because it kind of seemed like a recipe book we were memorizing - different methods for solving different types of ODEs. There wasn't much depth, in my opinion. The questions on the tests were either incredibly easy or quite challenging. She LOVES to pose nonconstant coefficient problems, which aren't covered too extensively in the course, so that was pretty nerve-wracking. Make sure you're comfortable with them... Also, though Linear Algebra is a co-req, I was taking it at the same time and when we got to the section in ODE about linear systems, which involves eigenvalues and diagonalization, we hadn't yet covered that in Linear Algebra, so I had to teach that to myself ahead my Lin Al class. Not too difficult, but not optimal. She also expected us to know a proof which involved a double integral (and I haven't taken Calc IV yet), but she didn't end up asking about it on the exam. In terms of the theory on the exam, it's always pretty elementary stuff that she goes over in class. As long as you take notes and know your notes, you'll be fine.

Dec 2011

Eh. I was pretty apathetic towards because she was not very clear presenting the material. She is your standard Columbia Math dept professor who does not care too much about teaching undergrads. She'll keep on going through class whether you understand it or not. Frankly, it's not too hard to teach it to yourself, but what's the point of paying your tuition then? I do wish she would give more practice problems for the exams and also POST THE PROBLEM SET SOLUTIONS.

Sep 2011

Prof Daskalopoulos is a good professor. She followed the text book very closely and explained it well. Her experience teaching this class showed in her explanations and also answering all questions during class. I considered the lectures clear given how difficult the material is. I did well in my calculus classes, but ODE is a step above. Computations can be very long and complicated for some types of problems. Also, She went over some additional proofs that I think were skipped in the engineering version of the class. These were a little rough. But the book also explains everything and helped me out a bit. She is very accessible during her office hours and very patient with all the questions. Like a few other professors, she had one or two questions on her tests that were slightly extended from her lectures and homework. However, even those were just other problems from the end of the problem set in the book that weren't assigned.

Jun 2010

Prof. Daskalopoulos is wonderful! I had a great time in her class, and I have definitely learned a lot. I do want to stress, though, that this class is difficult and time-consuming (due to the subject matter). An applied math major, I spent an average of 15 frustrating hours a week doing homework. I also found the first couple week's homework to be the hardest, so hang in there. However, Prof. D definitely realizes the complexity of the material and does her best to accommodate. She proceeds at a very manageable pace through the material, keeping to the book so that you can review the material easily. While technically this also made her lectures skip-able, I found myself attending each one because she is a decent lecturer. Her accent is slight, and I got used to it after a few classes. She was also very open to questions, both in office hours and in class. The book we used was by Walter Strauss, and while it was somewhat condensed, it was still easy to read and review. Compared to the homeworks which I found very difficult, the exams were much more straightforward. There were no curveballs. There was one proof on the midterm and a couple on the final, but these were the short ones in the book/homework, so you would do well to review them (there were really only 5 or so proved theorems overall, so it's not much to memorize). The rest of the problems were computational. On a final note, the grading was more than fair. The TAs always gave a good chunk of credit for having the right idea of how to solve a problem, even if the final answer was not correct. Also, I thought that the final curve to be generous although to be fair I am not sure what the general distribution of the class was. Overall, I would highly recommend this class with Prof. D!

Dec 2009

Nice enough. Personally, I found her blackboard method very confusing. She's a bit all over the place, but examples come straight out of the text. For someone who lectures straight out of the book, I found it completely frustrating that she threw us so many curveballs on the exams. Her tests feel completely disconnected from the (much more computational and straightforward) material at hand, and the final introduces things we don't cover in class. Basically, people seem to like her and I see why--she's very open and responsive, and is generous with her time during office hours. But I was pretty confounded by this class.

Oct 2009

Awesome prof, explains material well in lecture. Unlike most other post-calc math classes, reading the textbook doesn't feel like learning everything from scratch. The class is reasonably easy and the material is interesting.

Dec 2008

SO WONDERFUL. She is truly a gem! Take her class! She wants to do everything and anything to make sure that you do well in her class and that you understand the information. Her English isn't perfect, but it's pretty close. As far as math professors go, she's amazing!

Feb 2008

Professor Daskalopoulos is very nice and helpful. However, her lectures are right out of the book so it is not a necessity to attend lectures. She can be dull and boring at times but you will learn the material in class. The midterms and final are not curved. The means were in the low 70's to mid 80's. She's probably middle of the road in terms of all the Calc 3 professors, do keep in mind though this is a 9:10-10:25 class, so if you enjoy getting up early to listen to math lectures then this class is for you, otherwise pick another professor.

May 2002

Basically a good professor. Understands all of the basic concepts quite well. Usually her lectures were fairly understandable, although occasionally she did go a bit fast. The material for this course is relatively difficult, but quite interesting (if you find math interesting). I was able to understand the material and do well having previously taken no course higher than linear algebra. She is open to questions during class and during office hours. On the down side, she was never on time, typically five to ten minutes late. More significantly, she often chose not to do long or complicated algebraic manipulations in class, saying "and you can work it out at home." The steps that she skipped were not really essential, but sometimes I would have liked to have seen them anyway.

Dec 2001

A very nice woman who honestly cares about her students' grasp of the material. She will go out of her way to have office hours, give practice tests, and go over hw problems in class. My only problem is that she often spends too much time in class answering questions about material that students should be learning on their own, and forgets to cover new material. The flip side is that she is an easy grader. If you are willing to sit through at least three or four classes which consist of getting nothing accomplished, take this class.