professor
Xiaodong Cao

May 2006

No sense of humor and acts like he's in the army. If you're not prepared to go to class, I wouldn't take him. Class is unnecessary, but he knew that I didn't go to class and when I needed to talk to him about a homework that he lost, he was unfriendly and not helpful. I hear he is helpful in office hours, but I was too scared to go. He'll know if you don't go to class. If you're the kind of student who goes to all the classes, this is a good class for you. Many problems from class on exams.

Jan 2006

2 things about him you want to learn (dont take him) you want an A (go ahead)

May 2005

There were a lot of proofs in this class, in the lectures, homeworks, and exams. Overall he's decent, but the textbook is just as good as the lecture. Class being at 9 am, many people chose the textbook (including myself). Midterms were fair, final was a little on the challenging side, but I heard he curves generously.

Jan 2005

Cao was decent. I'd agree with the previous reviewer that going to class is a question of personal preference. He mostly used examples that were explained in the textbook. The only things to be careful of are his personal notation preferences - they're not quite the same as the book's all the time. Also, the beginning of the class was incredibly easy so I didn't take it very seriously. I got a 90-something on the first midterm without studying, but, while continuing to consider the class a joke, I bombed the second midterm. Oops. So it's important to be conscious of the fact that the later material is a good bit harder than the initial stuff. Don't blow off the work and you should be fine.

Jan 2005

Linear Algebra is a hard class, and Prof. Cao doesn't make it easier. But at least he doesn't make it harder, which is better than any other math teacher I've had a Columbia. He is fairly clear as a lecturer and he often gave numerous "hints" about what would appear on the exams. However, other than the "hints", there is very little reason to attend class. If you are able to stay awake throughout his lecture, then it is worth attending class just for the hints. Otherwise, just stick to the book, and save yourself the trip to class. There's no reason to avoid him, although there is really very little reason to take him either.

Dec 2004

He's got a thick accent...and he teaches DIRECTLY from the textbook. He actually manages to make it quite confusing. He is well intentioned though; he encourages his students to ask questions and come to his office hours. Sadly, he just can't teach which resulted in me not going to class for the last month. If you are ok at teaching yourself most of the material (and you have somewhat of a background in this stuff...mainly, you took BC Calc in high school) you should be alright. He curves well. It's frustrating going through the semester though. There are definitely better options than Cao.

Dec 2004

Cao's accent is REALLY hard to understand at first but you get used to it after a while. He teaches a lot using theorems which I found not helpful and does not do many examples in class. He has minimal and inconvenient office hours. I would not take this class without a pretty strong calculus background because he assumes that you know all of calc I really well. His midterms are really hard but the final isn't nearly as bad. He grades on a huge weird curving system at the end and it is pretty generous.

Dec 2004

A pretty fair, although challenging, professor. His lectures were pretty hard to understand, and you don't necessarily have to go to them; he even said that as long as you did the homework, he didn't care if you didn't go to class. So basically, he taught out of the book. A very friendly guy, and he responded to emails quite quickly. He also grades very quickly, so that's a plus. There's also a great curve.

Dec 2004

His inability to teach notwithstanding, Cao is the perfect professor for Calculus II. Let's face it, few (if any) professors in the math department teach well, but Cao' s tremendous curve and the fact that he gives lots of hints about what will be on exams more than makes up for this. I recommend attending class. You will be bored and most of the things he does (the man loves writing out proofs, though they're irrelevant to exam material) will be pointless, but he will often solve homework problems in class, give important information about exam questions, and might even teach you a few things. He gave me an A, and I am not the brightest calc student, nor did I work very hard.

Dec 2004

I would be able to review him better if I could have understood what he was saying. Horrible accent. Lectures were pointless, very low attendance could show for this. No teaching ever happened, just read the book and find a tutor.

Nov 2004

If you really enjoy learning Calculus from a textbook and don't expect anything out of lectures, Cao is the professor for you. Like many profs in the math department, his comand of english is not spectacular, but I could forgive his pronunciation of l'hopital's rule as "robtuss" rule if his lectures were at all worthwhile. He just copies the textbook onto the board, and even giggling when he says "eekals" or "cosecanta thetar" can't relieve the boredom that ensues. On the more postive note- if you don't mind learning calculus on your own, his 2 midterms are reasonable, and you don't have to go to lectures.

May 2004

Cao is a decent professor. His teaching style is nice, he explains decently and he gives many hints about the exams along the way. His english is not very good though it is entertaining to listen to and understandable. He curves amazingly well and very strangely. His exams are challenging yet very doable if you study and do the homework. Explore your other options first, but Cao is a very good option.

May 2004

Excellent professor; explain concepts fairly well. Quizes and Psets are the excellent preps for the midterms. Final was a little bit tough though. Recommended!!!!!!!!!!

May 2004

If you enjoy sitting through a class laughing the entire time, take this class! You won't laugh because he makes jokes (he doesn't have a good sense of humor), but you laugh because his accent is so funny! "Ze lance of vecto B" means "The length of vector B"...and "larmda" he says often, that translates to "lamda"...now for the best one: "za weeoh and emmanually paht" means "the real and imaginary part"..it gets ridiculous sometimes! He gives very good notes and you learn a lot in this class. His midterms are decent, and if you study a lot, you will do very well. The final is very very difficult, but no worries, his curve more than makes up for it. I ended up with a 72% in the class and received an A! I also have friends who got 94% and received an A. He curves to a B+.

Apr 2004

A little funny to listen to, but very very very good. I have had some Calculus in high school, but this guy takes it the next level. You will learn many things from Cao's class.

Jan 2004

I had mixed feelings about this class but overall I'd say it was a good class. Prof Cao is a very nice man, but I did not rely so much on his teachings than I did on my own high school calc experience to get me through the course. I think his style of teaching makes it very difficult for people with no background in calc, but if you try hard and get decent grades he will give you the A. If you want a guaranteed A for working hard then take his class. Just makes sure you copy every problem he goes over in class because a lot of times he asks the same questions he went over in class. Other questions will be exactly from webwork and homework. Occasionally though he will ask a question out of nowhere.

Jan 2004

Cao isn't that bad. Well, he is bad, but tolerable. He's very sweet and has a hysterical voice.... the weirdest accent I've ever heard, but give me a break, you'll understand him!! Yes, this was one of the harder sections, but if you buckle down and do the weekly assignment straight through it will take less than 3-4 hours!! This is the epitome of a course in which the curve will save your grade. Everyone failed and somehow went from a 78 average to a solid A.

Dec 2003

Oh dear, Professor Cao. You have the funniest voice EVER!! But you're a really nice guy. It's a tough section, he forces you to think analytically and stuff. Don't take it if you want an easy way out. But he's not terrible, and the curve will save your grade anyway, you numbskull. This class is deathly boring and the workload sucks. I just think he's a nice guy.

Dec 2003

Do yourself a favor and don't take Cao's class. The way he explains material does not help you understand it at all - you're better off just reading the book. If you haven't taken calc in high school, there's no way you will understand the material. He grades on a huge curve, though.

Dec 2003

Professor Cao is a nice man. He is willing to answer questions and lets his class have a little fun every once in a while. That said, this class is not a good class. It was difficult for students with backgrounds in calc and nearly impossible for students who had never taken calc before. The biggest problem that I had with this class was the homework problems were not representative at all of the test/quiz questions. The questions that we were tested on were extrememly difficult. But he gives an enourmous curve. I wouldn't recomend the course, but if you need to, don't worry, you'll get through it.

Nov 2003

I like Professor Cao. He really does make an effort to teach well! A lot of folks make fun of his english, but deal with it folks. He covers the material well and does a great job of keeping right on track with our readings in the textbook. The calculus textbook here is great. The work load is not easy, but it is certainly doable. There is a homework due each week, and also about 8 webwork probelms. There is a 10-point quiz each week, but it is not big deal, they are worth 5% of your grade and if you are up to date with the readings, you'll do well. Do the reading before class, come to class, do the homeworks ANYTIME other than sunday night, and do your webwork. Work hard, and you will do fine. Of course it's not the funnest thing ever. We're talking about introductory calculus folks! But, I think Cao is fine considering that this material is not going to get anyone hanging on the edge of their seats. He is not terribly receptive to questions in class, but I think he's a genuinely nice guy. The midterms are difficult! Don't be fooled. Study well.

May 2003

Many students note that Cao's first language isn't English and immediately dismiss him as impossible to understand. While the man is certainly boring in lectures, I didn't find this to be a problem - he speaks very well, he just has an accent. As a communicator of ideas, you have to think like a math nerd in order to follow him. Students I know in our class who weren't wired for math had difficulty getting anything out of lectures. It should be telling that the other sections of Calc IIS in this semester had 70-100 students, and his started with 20 and dwindled to about 14. He is also quite absentminded, often unable to remember whether he assigned homework to be handed in, or other details about the class. From what I can tell, the best strategy for getting something out of his class is to read the sections in the book BEFORE he covers them in class. If you already have a passing familiarity with what he's saying, it will make a lot more sense. Sure, that's a little overachieving even for Columbia students, but it really will help. This reviewer found Cao's midterms to be easier than other students did; if you've taken the Calc AP exam, you probably won't have to work hard until the last few chapters of material. His final was quite tough, but he gave a review packet and was available for review, even on a Sunday. My impression is that he really knows what he's talking about, and genuinely cares about his students, but is a boring and absentminded guy.

Jan 2003

Professor Cao is a very nice guy. He is always willing to help, and he cares about whether we understand the material. He is the kind of professor who cares to learn his student's names and who notices whether you attend the call or not. Although people complain about his accent, it isn't nearly as bad as some other professors. Boring lecturer? Agreed. Professor Cao is a generous grader who is always willing to give his students to benefit of the doubt. Don't worry if lectures go over your head. They do for most people, however the curve on the exams more than make up for this lack of understanding. Overall, a mediocre professor. I recommend you check your other options first.

Jan 2003

No, no, no, no, no. Do NOT take this professor. His lectures are boring as hell, he puts proofs on tests, he makes you learn delta epsillon, and you can barely understand a word he says. On the other hand he is a very nice guy and will gladly help you out in his office hours, and will go over a test with you if you think it's been graded unfairly. But none of these things makes me recommend this prof. No, I say!

Dec 2002

This class was hard to stay awake for, due to the professor's hard to understand accent and monotonous way of lecturing - during which he basically writes on the board the same material you could read out of the textbook. Attending lectures was useful if you wanted a better idea of what would be on the exams, but if you took Calculus in high school, the first half might be a snooze fest. He gives two midterms and a final, and they are extremely hard, with too many proofs and too few applications of the theorems. But he doesn't realize that they are hard, and after each midterm, he seemed surprised when no one thought they'd done well on them.

Nov 2002

Prof. Ciao is a really nice guy, and is very smart, but I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed his class. The homework was deceivingly easy, and the tests very difficult despite the pretty generous curve. Prof. Ciao is more than willing to help you out and answer questions in class, but the lectures are kind of confusing. Overall a difficult and confusing class, despite a really nice teacher.

Nov 2002

This class will be very difficult if you don't study the material before each class. His quizes are very different from the homework problems, and he's very theoretical. If you have a hard time with math, I don't suggest this course at all. Only take it if you already have some background in the material, otherwise you'll be swimming in a sea of distorted diagrams and very fast-paced problem solving.