Differential Equations

Daniel Murfet

Differential Equations

Mathematics department

Daniel Murfet

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Bad
Overall 2.4
Good
Hard
Easiness of class 2.2
Easy
Heavy
Workload 2.4
Light
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 2.8
Clear
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 3.4
Helpful
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Reviews

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted June 19, 2011 Grade Received: N/A

Murfet tries. He really does try. And he really does care.

The good:
- Murfet is a very clear lecturer. You'll learn a lot from him.
- He's legitimately funny...most of the class actually laughs at his jokes. It'll probably keep you awake.
- 33B really isn't a very difficult class.
- He posts his lecture notes online, and they are BEAUTIFUL. This is a big plus since the textbook for this course is...well, atrocious.

The bad:
- Some of the homework sets take FOREVER. You'll understand the concept inside and out...with half the assignment left to complete.
- His tests were almost entirely mechanical, and they were out of 15, 22, and 39 points (for the two midterms and the final, respectively). A simply careless arithmetic error may cost you half a point, or even a full point. While in other math classes you would get, say, 9/10 for the problem, here you get 1/2. It acts as an equalizer; if you understood the concept but made a silly mistake, you may receive the same credit as someone who had no idea what they were doing and just wrote down some equations. This means that, unless Murfet changes his system, doing well on his tests doesn't require thoroughly understanding everything, it just demands not being careless. I think that's a bad thing, but I'll leave it for you to judge.

My suggestions:
- TAKE MATH 33A BEFORE 33B. Independent of the professor you have, I cannot stress this enough!
- AVOID SILLY MISTAKES ON HIS TESTS. See "the bad." Make sure you get lots of sleep before them, pace yourself, etc.

Murfet is a pretty new professor, and I truly think he'll be great in the future, so I'm able to forgive him for his shortcomings this quarter. Maybe my evaluation will be irrelevant in a few years. But this is what you should know here and now.

Good luck! :)

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted June 19, 2011 Grade Received: N/A

I did poorly on the final because I was sick and ended up with a C, but overall, his course is pretty easy. The exams are very fair and don't really force you to really understand the theory. During lectures, he'll prove his techniques and all that, but you really only have to be able to vaguely understand how they work. In actuality, the exams just require you to mechanically subject the DE's through several available techniques to find a solution. He seems like a funny guy and does his best at making this dry subject seem semi-interesting.

My favorite aspect was his website. He pretty much immediately puts up his lecture notes online. He also puts up practice midterms with solutions and he also puts up solutions to the actual midterms (he usually only takes a day or two to grade his tests). That was all very helpful.

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted June 18, 2011 Grade Received: N/A

Funny professor, and awesome to hear his austrailan accent lol. He tells funny jokes and suddenly gave us a differential equations problem where we had to calculate the amount of alcohol inside his system during his wedding as a function of time. He posts his lecture notes consistently and provides practice midterms/finals. His tests are very, very doable, so the curving isn't that great (which means a few points gained may mean the difference between an A and A-, or an A- and B+, etc. Also, the tests are usually graded out of points such as 22 or so, with 0.5-1 point deductions so this also keeps the curve tight. The textbook was actually pretty okay, and since he sticks to the book pretty closely, you can get buy with just the book. HW: 10%, Midterms (each 20%, or the best one is 30%); Final: (50%, or 60%). Two grading schemes. He's very understandable and has very good handwriting. I enjoyed his class (though I kept falling asleep, but I do that for every class, so...). He also posts lecture notes about linear algebra stuff, the textbook chapter 7 has all you really need to know about matrices - I didn't take 33A - it's definitely doable (you don't need to know that much bec. he doesn't emphasize theory a lot, just practice doing some). Take Murfet if you don't need/want to learn too much theory and if you want to be able to understand all that's going on in class. If you like curved tests where you can wing it a little, don't take him bec. everyone else who's put in some effort and is careful during tests will do better than you.

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted June 13, 2011 Grade Received: N/A

Professor Murfet is a great professor, but he doesn’t really expect much from his students. His lectures are straightforward and easy to follow, and really break down the concepts presented in the textbook. Though I can’t understand the unusually low average midterm and final scores, the midterms and final were both very easy; most of the questions were just homework problems with the numbers changed around. I was somewhat slightly disappointed that Professor Murfet was more concerned with just solving differential equations, than actually understanding how the techniques work. You don’t even have to know the theory behind it, just know the algorithms to solve the equations, but I guess that’s what makes the course very easy. As for his personality, he occasionally throws in a joke or a story he wanted to share. Coupled with his Australian accent, he’s an amusing man. Makes it worthwhile to go to class.
Another thing: the textbook is not a first timer's book. Go to class. The textbook skips so many steps it’s almost impossible to self teach from the book. If you didn’t take 33A and you decide to skip lecture, then linear systems will be VERY confusing.

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted June 12, 2011 Grade Received: N/A

Overall Murfet was a fair (maybe almost too fair on the easy side) professor and he taught Math 33B as effectively as any professor could have done. What also made this class more pleasant was listening to his awesome Australian accent and getting a kick out of every time he said “zet” instead of “z” and “ashume” instead of “assume.” The guy has really neat handwriting (which is a big plus in my book) and actually takes the time to rewrite the atrocity of a differential equations textbook (Differential Equations 2nd Edition, by Polking, great heavens to betsy this book was impossible to use as reference, Shame On You Math Department!) into condensed lecture notes that was lucid (most of the time) and easy to understand. On top of that, our midterms were graded extremely quickly and the scores were updated on myucla the day we took the midterms, so that was super duper. And his jokes were ok (6 out of 10).

Now enough of why this class was awesome onto why this class was lame. First of all this class was way too easy. I don’t know if it’s because an introductory class to ordinary differential equations is suppose to be so simple, but wow, almost all the things that we learned in this class was a bunch of Simple Simon stuff. Now I’m not saying I got the grades, but what the midterms come down to is the speed and accuracy at which you can perform various techniques in solving the differential equations within the 50 minutes allotted. And these techniques are super long and super tedious like your cousin’s wedding. Also, the homeworks take forever. When you get into 2nd order DEs, there was this one homework that took like 9 F-ing hours to complete. I wouldn’t have minded if the homework was somewhat enjoyable but this class is boring, man. Basically all this class was menial computation.

So how do you do well? Murfet tells us to do the practice exam problems and redo the homework problems to practice for the midterms and the final. And guess what? The final and midterms had mostly questions that were very similar (he even jacked a problem from the book if I remember correctly) from the homeworks that he assigned us. So this makes the final and midterm ridiculously easy if you memorized or are able to derive all the techniques and ideas from the topics covered. There are no curveballs or super hard millennium prize problems that try to separate the math ninjas from the normal people, so don’t trip. As long as you know how to do the homework problems and know what he expects you to know, you’ll get a good grade. If you’re one of those guys who likes to cut corners but tries somewhat you may also get a good grade. If you’re one of those guys that skip homework all the time and knock out in class, and procrastinates to kingdom come, you will probably get a bad grade. Oh yeah, and the TA’s were ok. Peace.

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted June 10, 2011 Grade Received: N/A

Professor Murfet is quite dedicated in his teaching. I mean, he spends a lot of time taking material from the book and rewriting them into more readable lecture notes for every lecture. That being said, he follows the book very closely and he puts his lecture notes online anyway so if you read through the book, you can get a decent grade without going to any of his lectures.

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