professor
Peter Horn

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Jan 2012

Professor Horn is mediocre as a lecturer and extremely apathetic as a teacher. The reason why he earns a silver nugget is maybe because that the mathematics department lacks professors who are American to teach 1000 level class. As a result, he stands out among all the foreign professors who are either not very proficient in oral English or unfamiliar with American classroom culture. Having those reasons in mind, it is not hard to understand why he becomes the one to go for. It is nonetheless the tragedy of Columbia undergraduate mathematics department. But essentially, he is not any more sophisticated in terms of actual teaching and even less passionate about the class than a lot of other professors. He goes by a credibly rigid style which follows exactly the textbook and even uses the exact examples on the textbook. This is very unsatisfactory if you actually like mathematics. By the way, a lot of times, you will find textbook is written with more nuances and passion than he is. You can safely escape almost of the lectures, but still do perfectly fine for homework and exams. Of course, it could be a good thing depends on your purpose of taking calculus. He would give practice exams before exams, but those are all by other professors and he will reject to offer solutions because they are not by him. Excellent logic, huh? However, what really motivated me to write a review about him is an accident which really made me indignant. His homework component of the grade consists of 12 problem sets, each is 2.5% of the final grade. And he lost my last homework. I wrote to him, to ask if I can make up for it. He replied with a condescending and vague answer - "I wouldn't worry about it." I found it very rude. So I wrote to the chair of the department, and he finally gave me an explanation of his rules which go along the line that exceptions cannot be made in order to sustain the fairness of the majority. On the other hand, he neglected the fact that this could well be his or his TA's responsibility. The homework policy for almost other if not all Calc classes is that the worst problem set will not count. I smashed the final exam in the end. It is not so much about the tiny argument of grade, but is about how college demonstrates a real world by presenting to you all kinds of people. As a class taken at the very beginning of college, it might as well a critical time to re-calibrate your expectation of teachers as teaching in college to the instructors may come as first, second or even less significant.

Jan 2012

Here's the thing: Dr. Horn is fine as a teacher, but nothing more. Like the reviewers have said below, he explains the concepts fine, his homework is fine, and tests are fine. But I guess with a silver nugget, I expected more from him. I went to all the lectures (probably because it was an afternoon class, so I couldn't justify sleeping through it to myself), and am not sure I learned anything in the class that I couldn't from the book alone. His lecture and assignment material follow so closely to the book that he seems completely unable to justify anything beyond the cursory explanations they have in the textbook (Whenever a question starts with "Why..." he'll stumble over his words for 30 seconds and inevitably end up saying "Well, that's just the way it is.") The nice thing about this religious devotion to the book is that if you can do the weekly homework problems, midterms and the final are pretty easy, except for a few more thought-requiring questions. As someone who really likes math, but is a science major, I decided to go the Calc III-IV route instead of Honors Math, and I'm not sure whether that was the best idea or not. The thing that makes me saddest about this class is there was nothing about it that made me interested in the subject at all. All through single-variable calculus, there were tons of little moments where the coolness (some more brave people would say "beauty") of the subject really came through. Those moments just don't show up when all you do is teach the book.

Jan 2012

no matter how good he is able to articulate concepts. Peter Horn is surely NOT a good instructor. Truly good instructors really inspire you to explore more on your own and inspire your love in the subject. But Peter Horn does the complete OPPOSITE. he makes you HATE math not because it is hard but because you hate him. if you look at h ow mixed his reviews are, you will know how he treats his students. For students he doesn't like or isn't familiar with, he is extremely harsh and mean and doesn't even bother to answer your questions. If you don't happen to be the first in every exam, you'd better ingratiate yourself towards him. Otherwise..... in a word, his good articulation of materials is rendered meaningless by his favoritsm. Take him if you are a zillion percent confident that you can win his favor. And DON'T ever expect him to instill in you a love for the subject. Just focus on the math and try to forget how objectionable he is.

Nov 2011

This review is for students who struggle with math. Although Prof. Horn is a humble and kind man, he is an extremely unforgiving grader and lacks empathy for those who struggle in his classes. Don't get me wrong, it is easy to see why math oriented students love him because he does has have a very methodical and unintimidating lecturing style. As an example of what I'm talking about, myself and the student that sat next to me would not have passed his first midterm even if you combined our scores. I went in and spoke with him about it to see if anything could be done and he politely told me that the best grade I could possibly finish with would be a C and he suggested that I drop the class. I decided to stick it out and work my ass of for a P at least, but after Dr. Horn returned a flawless problem set to me with a full letter grade marked off because I didn't write my name on the BACK (that punishment was never mentioned in class or the syllabus), I decided to cut my losses and swallow a W before having to deal with a D or F. All problem sets as well as midterms were graded with little to zero partial credit, unlike all other math profs I have had at Columbia, which is the only thing that gets you through the semester if you are a math struggler. All in all: If you like math and don't struggle with it, enjoy Prof. Horn! Opposite? I HIGHLY suggest you find someone else.

Nov 2011

He seems like a nice guy and he actually cares about his class. Also, from what I've heard from my friends, he seems to be one of the few Calc teachers that speaks native and unaccented English, which is nice. That said, his explanations never helped me that much and his lectures often strayed into unrelated (mathematical) topics. He'll spent 30 minutes proving a theorem we are learning and then not have time to talk much about the uses of the theorem. In other words, he loves the math a little too much to teach it well, in my opinion. Lectures are worth going to, but expect to be doing some reading and searching for explanations from the book also if you're not normally that great with math.

Nov 2011

Dr. Horn has a really good classroom demeanor, making it a point to learn everyone's name (very noble/impressive given the size of the class) and is very patient in answering questions while still keeping the class moving, though sometimes not as fast as I would have liked. His voice is mellow and calming, not in the way that puts you to sleep, but in the way that keeps your mind clear and keeps everything simple. The way he works through examples in class is smooth and logical, and he knows you can refer to the textbook for the problem sets so he minimizes the copying of drawn-out mathematical definitions while still fully explaining things, which is nice. He's very likable from the outset, but his humility, frankness, and sense of humor makes him the type of teacher who really grows on you over the course of the semester. He's amusing in that natural, subtle sort of way that stems more from his fun, quirky personality than anything else--much preferred in a classroom setting to awkward, forced attempts to elicit laughs. Once you get to know the guy, the things he says will make you smile at least once per class, and I consider his class one of the more enjoyable I'm taking this semester.

Oct 2011

I love this man!!! I look forward to this class every single day and it is because of him that I am considering a math major. He explains things quite well in class and is very willing to answer questions that you might have. He calls you by your name (I was in a class of 105 people for Calc III and he learned every single one of our names by the end of the first month. I don't know how he does it!!) The homework load is not that crazy (not so light that you don't actually get any practice and not so heavy that you dread spending hours doing the same type of problem over and over again). He is always available during his office hours and if you show that you are genuinely interested in what he's talking about he'll love you! He is also really funny. One time in class we were talking about hyperbolic paraboloids and he pulled up this short simpsons clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUmGoKI0HE8&feature=related

Jan 2010

I picked Peter Horn's class because Dr Horn's first language is English. But it turned out to be a great class for other reasons as well. Dr Horn's lectures are clear and organized. But that doesn't mean they're boring: he's extremely enthusiastic about the material. He came in one day and said "I was so excited to be teaching related rates that I put on a tie this morning." He was only half joking—he really likes teaching related rates! Dr Horn tells math jokes and his final exam had two extra credit questions on it. That's not something you see frequently in a college level class, and I really appreciated it. His test questions are fair. They're not easy, but they don't come out of left field either. He wants you to succeed and doesn't fill them with tricks that only mathletes will catch on to. He learns all his students names and is very receptive to questions. There were tons of students in the class who had already taken calculus. Unfortunately, I think that's quite common. But all you really need to succeed in this class is a solid understanding of logs and trig—at this level the subject matter is very straightforward.

Jan 2010

I would encourage anyone to take a Professor Horn's calculus class! He is an all around great teacher and great person. If you know the material, there is no need to go to lectures. Keeping up with homework and webwork is more than enough. If you don't know the material, it's good to go to lectures to get that extra help and ask those pesky questions. He's great about answering questions in class and during office hours. He's also great about getting to know his students. He knew most people's names and even what they were struggling with, even though there were 100 people in the class. The material is tough and the workload is tough -- but very enjoyable if you like math. For me, it required hours and hours in the math help room. That one-on-one attention with TAs is essential if there's something you're just not getting. The workload (problem sets and webwork) is heavy, but is perfect preparation for the exam. As you're doing it, you realize you're not just doing it for the grade, you're doing it to prepare for the exams. The most annoying thing is the webwork because a lot of the time its on material that has not been covered yet and its due before the material gets covered. Also, some of the problems are unreasonably hard-- even the TAs struggle with them. But you can get away with finishing them easily, by getting help from others. The exams are tough, but if you sit through them and think things over and if you've kept up with your work, you can do well. They're also very generously curved. Overall, I would suggest this class to anyone that wants or needs to take Calc I.

Dec 2009

Great professor. Lectures are easy to understand and relevant to the exam. He is very sincere and approachable. He responds fully to questions from students during lectures and through e-mails. Overall, a very likable person. The course material itself can be challenging if you were not a "mathematically-inclined" student in high school. However, with enough effort, anyone can do well in the course. There are no curve-balls on the exam so as long as you review your lecture notes and do your homework, you are guaranteed at least a decent grade. You learn a good amount throughout the course. The pace is not fast but you can get behind really fast if you don't be careful. It is possible to do well without attending the lectures, but it is recommended especially towards the end of the semester. I personally recommend you to attend lectures regularly. By not doing so, you can miss out on random talks/discussions, and some announcements regarding exams. homework, and such. Grades are based on homework (20%), two midterms (20%+20%), final (40%) Midterm and Finals are not curved but the final grade is curved. I assume that around 85% is the cutoff line for an A.

Dec 2009

Great professor who speaks English fluently (at least above the usual math standard). Very funny, he clearly comes very well prepared for class and his lecture/notes show. Dr. Horn is very friendly and approachable: he learned everyone's names in a matter of 2 weeks. The man is very patient in answering questions the students have. Although that occasionally slowed the class down a bit, I'm sure some people appreciate that. About the class: not very difficult if you took calculus before. Could be quite challenging however if you hadn't. We moved through the first 6 chapters of Stewart's textbook (a speed some could consider break-neck). The principles and applications of differential and integral calculus were all covered (only minimally though, as this is calc I). Dr. Horn is all in all very understandable of students' situations. Very caring as well, as he wrote detailed comments on exam results, in addition to grading them very quickly. Great teacher and mathematician, even though this is his first year at Columbia. I recommend his class to anyone, both the beginner and the advanced (although it might be more advantageous for the former).