MATH 115A

Linear Algebra

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Michael Andrews Full Profile > N/A Overall N/A Easiness N/A Workload N/A Clarity N/A Helpfulness
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Tyler Arant See Full Profile

Overall 4.2 Easiness 3.5 Workload 3.0 Clarity 4.5 Helpfulness 4.0

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The professor is very organized. I mostly relied on the class notes to help with studying for quizzes and tests. The class is very theoretical and proof-based. I recommend you attend class at the scheduled time in order to not fall behind, but relying on the lecture recordings does not make a difference.

The homework was worth 10% of your grade and it is based on completion. It was very long, but the TA's helped with solving some of the problems. The professor provides partial solutions to the homework after the due date. The homework was the best source of practicing the material and studying for the quizzes and tests.
The weekly quizzes were difficult, but if you fully understood the homework, then they were doable. (some of the questions on the homework were difficult though).
I felt the Midterms were much easier than the Final. Personally, the Midterms and the Final took a while to complete.
Overall, the class is very organized. He is willing to answer any questions you have and the class requires you to critically think.

Fall Quarter 2020
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Matthias Aschenbrenner Full Profile > N/A Overall N/A Easiness N/A Workload N/A Clarity N/A Helpfulness
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Paul Balmer See Full Profile

Overall 3.3 Easiness 1.5 Workload 2.7 Clarity 3.3 Helpfulness 3.5

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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 Quarter 2019
Michael Bateman Full Profile > N/A Overall N/A Easiness N/A Workload N/A Clarity N/A Helpfulness
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Omer Ben Neria See Full Profile

Overall 4.2 Easiness 2.2 Workload 2.5 Clarity 4.5 Helpfulness 4.8

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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.

Spring Quarter 2017
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Don Blasius Full Profile > N/A Overall N/A Easiness N/A Workload N/A Clarity N/A Helpfulness
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March Boedihardjo See Full Profile

Overall 3.0 Easiness 1.6 Workload 3.6 Clarity 3.2 Helpfulness 3.0

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avoid him at all cost. if you like challenging, never mind.

Fall Quarter 2020
Joseph Breen See Full Profile

Overall 5.0 Easiness 2.0 Workload 3.0 Clarity 5.0 Helpfulness 5.0

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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!!

Spring Quarter 2021
Tova Brown See Full Profile

Overall 3.4 Easiness 3.4 Workload 3.6 Clarity 2.6 Helpfulness 4.2

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Professor Brown is a lovely and nice teacher. She concerns about her student so much that she managed to answer every questions in the class. But that is a problem because a rather tangential question in class may cause her whole lecture without talking anything about the material. So save your question after class for the sake of others. Her lecture is a little bit disorganized but the exams are easy and the generous curve will give you a decent grade.

March 29, 2015
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