All Ratings and Reviews for David Gieseker
Prof Gieseker lives up to his fame as a mathematician, but also to his fame as someone who is too smart to teach.
Currently getting DAG'ed, will update later
Update: was not DAG'ed
MATH 110AH is a really fun course. The first week or two is spamming division algorithm and GCD and the remaining eight weeks is group theory. Having a strong linear algebra background really helps with this course. Now, independent of the course we have DAG. I have no idea how to feel about DAG. On one hand, his lectures are hard to follow and pulls random stuff out like dropping the takehome midterm on a brisk saturday afternoon without warning. On the other hand, he has to be one of the nicest profs I have ever have and really wants everyone to succeed. I ended up just reading Pinter's Abstract Algebra text and Elman's notes (which in itself i found a bit hard to read). There was a midterm, take home midterm and a final. The midterm was not too hard but the average was probably like 100+. The take home midterm is 19 problems (only 8 of which are graded) and its essentially one really big proof which has a REALLY satisfying end result. The final was 5 questions and 6 EC questions. The 5 regular questions were pretty easy but those 6 EC questions were pretty difficult. The graded homework was like 1 question per week. Unless you keep practicing the material with questions not assigned to you, its really easy to slip and fall behind. However, our TA, Ben, is one of the best TAs I've ever had and would answer my dumb questions a bunch.
The textbook is Hoffman/Kunze, and I didn't like it very much. I ended up downloading a PDF of Axler and reading it instead, and I found the proofs in Axler much more clear. However, the exercises in Hoffman/Kunze are more challenging. Usually a few textbook problems would be selected as graded homework problems each week, with a bunch more optional problems that we were encouraged to do.
As for exams, I just did all (well, as much as I needed to) of the previous exams that Prof. Gieseker gave us and I was fine. He taught this course like 7 or 8 times and he gave us both midterms and the final for all of them. A lot of problems are recycled.
His teaching can be hard to follow. I don't exactly know why though.
See the other review from Fall 2019 for class structure (HW, exams, grading schemes). I mostly agree with everything else. Just a few things to add...
The amount and difficulty of the homework varied from week to week. Sometimes, I'd be staying up late for hours the night before the homework was due (we turned them in every Thursday in discussion) just trying to pound out the double star problems or even start to understand what I was reading. My quarter we had a class group chat where everyone tried to help each other, which was pretty nice. And the homework grader literally only graded the "double star" problems (~2 to 4 a week), and you didn't *have* to do the extra non-double star problems if you didn't want to or didn't have time to. They were each 15 points, but the grader only gave you the full 15 if your proof was rigorous. If it wasn't, you might have gotten partial credit, but you could resubmit the same problem later in the quarter as many times as you want, only losing a point each time (I resubmitted one problem and got bumped to 14/15).
However, it's highly recommended that you actually try the proofs on the homework by yourself (before referring to Slader or a classmate), and I tend to agree; otherwise, if you don't understand what you're doing, you'll be pretty screwed come exam time.
As the other reviewer said, Gieseker was pretty unengaging during lecture, and I pretty much stopped going after the first midterm. Instead, I self-studied the assigned textbook sections for each week's homework and went to discussion, where the TA Laurent was a literal savior. From the few times I did go to lecture, it seemed that he taught from the textbook, or his own notes from the textbook, and oftentimes the class would get lost because he'd forget to say something or use something he hadn't taught yet.
For midterms and the final, he posted a link on the class website that linked to previous class websites, where you could find practice midterms and finals. Definitely practice the hell out of them before each exam, as not only do you have to have the right approach down to each type of problem, but some problems Gieseker recycled from previous exams. The midterms were both time crunches, as we only had the 50-minute lecture period to do the 5 questions (and extra credit). The final was nearly as bad, though Gieseker gave us an extra 15 minutes at the end that was really useful for me (I was stuck on Problem 12, the last one, for like half an hour before it clicked with ~10 minutes left).
I do feel like Gieseker has the best intentions, though he's not the greatest lecturer anymore (if he ever was). He's very clear in what he posts on the class website as to what will be covered on every exam. Also, one time I emailed him about a grading issue and he responded and fixed it within minutes. Finally, the curve on the class is real thicc, so don't be discouraged if you don't think you're doing too well -- as you can see, he curves the class to 50% A's!
Homework: weekly homework sets consist of questions from the book (some computational and some proofs) and a few ones added by Prof. Gieseker (proofs), but only the double star questions (2-3 proofs designated by him) will be graded
Exam: Midterms are 5 proofs (20 pts each) with a bonus question (10 pts. The name is misleading because it is not optional/extra credit and contributes to your total score) Final is 11 proofs and 2 bonus questions (all count to score). Prof. Gieseker gives exams from the past to practice, though I find the difficulty differs across years.
Grading scale: 10%HW+20%(MT1+MT2)+50%F or 10%HW + 90%F
Lecture/OH: Lecture is not engaging. Prof. Gieseker's voice is low and difficult to hear at times; his notes on the board are often indiscernible or have mistakes. His lectures lack clarity, since he will start writing on the board without explicitly saying what the proofs are for, eventually concluding with “so this is ….“ before moving onto the next topic immediately. There is no doubt that Prof. Gieseker is a very nice person and he is willing to stay after his designated office hour times to answer students’ question. He is friendly and approachable though sometimes he goes on tangents. While it is nice of him to ask the students what their majors are and talk about future courses that they should take, Prof. Gieseker would then go find different books or open related websites, instead of focusing on the questions that the students have.
Teaching Assistant: Laurent Vera is the best math TA I have ever seen. The man is very knowledgeable and can answer any question the students throw at him. He spent some time covering content that is not in the course but the thorough and clear explanation made them enjoyable/relatively easy to learn. Besides, I believe those content will be useful for any pure math students continuing to 115B
Personal note: It was definitely my fault that I did not study the final well enough (plus the nerve really made me forget some basic stuff I’ve seen before), which led to a dismal final performance and B for the final score. However, I did find the class quite taxing because of the professor and think I would have learned better/had more confidence if the teaching style is clearer. Professor Gieseker is knowledgeable and respected in his field but his age hinders his ability to teach well
Professor Gieseker is enthusiastic to teach, though his lecture is kind of disorganized. His field is algebraic geometry so he tended to introduce a lot of algebraic geometry ideas in class, which makes the lecture even harder to follow. His exam is fair enough and the curve is generous as well. Overall, not bad but not the best.
he shoudl not be teaching anymore, as in he should be retiring, great guy, very nice has a slight sense of humor about math but id definetly bnot recommend him for and lower div. i took him for honors linear algebra, his lectures are very boring which makes it hard to listen to, all this aside he is an okay grader.
Gieseker really cares about student learning and is very approachable for someone so brilliant. You will learn a lot from him in any course he teaches. Highly recommended.
Gieseker was not a bad professor, but not a great one either. The material was taught in a semi-straightforward (if boring) way. The midterm and final mirrored the homework material and the stuff we learned in class well (no surprises). My TA was incredible and basically made the class easy (Duncan). He is accessible, there was a grading mistake on one of my tests and he quickly corrected it. There's a little confusion on whether your homework counts towards the final grade, during my class, it didn't, but it was still helpful for the tests. If you have to take Math 61, your experience will be fine with this guy
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