professor
Michael I Weinstein

Dec 2012

Michael Weinstein's class was a great review of Linear Algebra and ODE. While this class may be more accurately described as "Advanced Techniques in Graphing" do not let the simplicity of the material fool you into not learning it, or else you'll get thrashed on the exams. The exams are fair but tend to ask more questions than you are realistically able to complete. However, I think Professor Weinstein noticed this because the exams became more feasible and reasonable as the semester progressed. Pretty standard: 2 midterms, each worth 25% of your grade and a Final worth 35%. Homework counts for 15%. Because people did so poorly on the first midterm (most people didn't answer one of 3 questions) he had two grading schemes: total grade out of all problems (for those who made an attempt at each one) or points out of your two best problems. Obviously this made some students who did very well upset and others who did very poorly grateful. The mean on the first exam was about 50% calculated either way, and 58% on the second midterm. The final supposedly had a mean of 63% according to the last email he sent (he hadn't finished grading all of them). I tanked on the first two midterms (below mean by + 10 percent) but I felt really well on the final (probably +75%), and ended up with a B. I did poorly on problem sets/didn't hand one of them in. This class should be an easy A for anyone who can commit. I should also mention that this semester for people who did very poorly (i.e. me!) on the first exam, he discounted that grade entirely and used the second midterm as the score for both (godsend!). I wouldn't count on him repeating this in the future (he noted that he was surprised by our class' performance on the first exam) although he seems like a reasonable grader. Hopefully you won't have Chris Choi as a TA as he grades extremely harshly when he himself doesn't understand the material (doesn't make sense!).

Jul 2012

A spectacular professor. I am writing this having taken his graduate Analytic Methods for PDE course, but there is no doubt that the things that made this class great are things that would make any class of his great. He is really committed to his class, providing typed up lecture notes before each lecture so that we didn't have to worry about scribbling furiously all class (and accordingly not learning anything). He would upload supplementary materials to elaborate on things that were discussed in class, and he was INCREDIBLY helpful during his office hours. As an undergrad taking this class, there was a significant amount of material that I was not up to speed with. He would spend as much time as necessary with me in his office teaching me things not immediately related to class just to help me catch up. Simply put, you get out of this class (and presumably his other classes too) what you put in (as is the case with all classes), but he really does everything he can to help you get the most out of it. He is a quiet lecturer so if you take a 9:10 class with him you might be tempted to doze, but if you bring in some coffee with you you'll find that his lectures are pure gold. He makes seemingly difficult concepts very lucid and intuitive—something that is unfortunately lacking in the math departments at Columbia (pure and applied). If it weren't for direct conflicts with other required courses, I would have taken every class this guy taught, as you should.