Fall 2020 - Different teaching styles work for different students... I personally didn't love the way this professor structured the class, but I think he is actually a good teacher. You have the security of knowing that if you go to all lectures, do all the work, and stay on top of everything you will do well in his class. I prefer a class that is less structured, with less homework, and more of a work independently to learn the material environment. I think I may be the rarity in this sense, so I do think many students would enjoy having him as a professor. Be prepared for a lot of homework, but you likely also won't need to do much extra studying aside from the homework, which he grades on completion. He also had a quiz once a week and I found that the quizzes were not easy, while they do account for a large part of your grade, so be sure to study for those. He is helpful at explaining the material and especially I give him kudos for being so organized. It was very easy to navigate back through his lecture notes to find what you were looking for, which is much appreciated in the remote learning environment.
Spring 2019 - While the class is definitely doable if you have the time and the will to really learn the material, Professor Balmer is definitely not a professor I would recommend for Math 115A. His lectures were meh (definitely not the most engaging things in the universe and his delivery of the material was definitely awkward at points), and the homework was really time consuming if you actually do it (it's only marked for completion, and you don't have to do all of it). Exams in the class were pretty awful as many of the reviews below suggest. To put things into perspective, the first midterm had an average of 50%, the second midterm had an average of 30%, and the final had an average of 47%. The class culture is pretty depressing as a result of these scores and Balmer's poor read on student understanding really shows in this respect. If you get stuck with Balmer, here's some advice: (1) He's not joking when he tells you to read the book. The book is 10x better at explaining the concepts than he is and if you read the assigned material beforehand, lecture will become somewhat useful for you. (2) Do not waste your time studying with mechanical proofs because Balmer makes you complete more elaborate tasks on the exams. For example, you are much more likely to provide an example of some obscure linear transformation rather than verifying a linear transformation is indeed a linear transformation. (3) Don't be hard on yourself after exams. No one really does well. Take a shot of vodka and let life go on. (Top score on one of the midterms was a 60%) While I definitely survived this class with a higher grade than I would've ever dreamed of, I don't think I'll be putting myself through another Balmer class ever again to keep my sanity haha...
Spring 2017 - If you're looking for a good, straightforward professor for 115A, you can't go wrong with Omer! While his lectures may not be the most engaging, he explains things clearly and concisely. He assumes you have never taken a proof-based math class before, which was helpful for someone like me who has never taken a proof-based math class. He assigns weekly HWs, and weekly quizzes, two midterms, and a final. The tests surprised me because they were a lot more computational, while the homework was almost all proofs. If you go to his office hours, he's a nice guy and will take his time to make sure you understand the material. Overall, would highly recommend taking this as your first upper-div math class with Omer! Grading: I bombed the first midterm, but learned how to study better for the second midterm and final. I was scared because I heard this class was very difficult, but I ended up doing better in this class than in 33A. If proofs don't come naturally for you, this class will require a lot of effort to complete the HWs and study for the tests.
Winter 2022 - Easily the worst professor to take MATH 115A with. Blasius overloads his students with homework and even acknowledges that it's too much. For a 5 unit course, it makes sense that the course load would be heavy and take a high time commitment. However, the amount of work assigned is ridiculous. I had some homework assignments take up to 30 pages or even more to complete. Note that this is a WEEK's worth of homework. On top of that, expect moderately difficult quizzes and midterms. Those are bearable and definitely not as strenuous as the final. The final was given online with 96 hours to do. You would expect that the 96-hour timeframe is to accommodate for other finals that students have to study for and also take. Wrong. The final was the longest and easily the worst final I've taken during my time at UCLA. The class has a few positives. The professor is understanding of how stressful he makes it for his students so he tries to be as accommodating as can be. Basically, it's great having a nice professor but that makes no actual difference to the course's workload and insanely difficult tests. If you take 115A with Blasius, I pray for you.
Spring 2021 - joe is literally the greatest professor ever. i've never had a professor who cares more about students actually learning than him. he held office hours six days of the week and always stayed longer than an hour, as long as students needed. 10/10 recommend attending his OH if you're stuck on homework or anything. he actually helps and will walk you through problems. he also doesn't get mad if you ask questions on literally every hw problem. he made the midterms pretty doable in my opinion. the final was definitely harder but hw is worth 50% so exams don't drop you too much. hw was tough but lectures and OH helped me do them. overall, joe is super nice, funny, caring and helpful. great lecturer and doesn't make things boring. if you can, choose joe as your prof every time!!