Calculus of Several Variables

Lincoln Chayes

Calculus of Several Variables

Mathematics department

Lincoln Chayes

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Ratings

Bad
Overall 2.0
Good
Hard
Easiness of class 1.6
Easy
Heavy
Workload 2.2
Light
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 1.7
Clear
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 2.0
Helpful
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Tags

  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Tough Tests
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Often Funny

Grades

Fall 2019
25.3%
21.1%
16.8%
12.6%
8.4%
4.2%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2016
21.5%
17.9%
14.3%
10.8%
7.2%
3.6%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2015
16.8%
14.0%
11.2%
8.4%
5.6%
2.8%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2014
18.7%
15.6%
12.5%
9.4%
6.2%
3.1%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2013
23.2%
19.3%
15.4%
11.6%
7.7%
3.9%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2006
19.5%
16.3%
13.0%
9.8%
6.5%
3.3%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

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1 of 9

Reviews

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Dec. 14, 2019 Grade Received: A

Fair warning to all people who need to take Math 32A at UCLA: I would HIGHLY recommend you avoid this professor at all costs. Please keep in mind that this review is coming from somebody who breezed through AP Calculus AB and BC in high school, got 5’s on both of the tests, and absolutely loves mathematics. If you happen to take this class with Chayes as opposed to any other professor, you are intentionally making the class over 15 times more difficult. Lest you think I am exaggerating, the content on both his homework and tests is on material absolutely not necessary for a regular 32A class, such as Convex Sets, LaPlace Equations in polar form, and in general, the hardest math problems I have ever seen in a math class. I have several friends in 32A with different professors who are less mathematically savvy than me and tell me they are breezing through their 32A classes with different professors. Know that I have heard of people who took advanced math at the 32A level or higher, and got worse grades than me in this course with this specific professor. Please listen to me when I say this: you are intentionally making the class 10-15 times harder if you choose Chayes as your professor for 32A. Aside from the ridiculous level of difficulty found in his problems, his lectures are extremely unclear and do not help at all. I learned nearly 100% of the concepts in this course from an online YouTube professor named Professor Leonard. Prof. Chayes taught me almost no concepts in this class that I ended up using on the exams. So if you take this class, it is almost 100% certain that you will be relying HEAVILY on outside help, whether it be TAs or online videos, as in my case. I can only think of one scenario in which you should willingly take 32A with Chayes, and that is if you are a Pure Math Major with goals of becoming a Math Researcher/Professor as a career in the future, and are willing to put lots of time and effort into this class. But EVEN if this is the case for you, I would still be very cautious as to entering this class, as the amount of difficulty in this class combined with the almost complete inability of the Professor to help you makes for an unpleasant experience in which you will have to rely on outside help almost completely, as in my case. It was only through complete reliance on YouTube and working through difficult homework problems with help from friends and the TA and some luck that I managed to get an A in this class. In 99% of cases, I would highly recommend that you do not take this Professor. If you are stuck in this class and can not drop it, I will give you survival strategies which helped me get an A in this very difficult class:
1. Don’t doubt yourself. This class is harder than BC Calculus, and it’s perfectly normal that you’re struggling with it. But believe that you can work through the problems.
2. Do NOT over-estimate your mathematical ability because you breezed through AP Calculus in high school and got 5’s on the AP exams. This was my case initially, and it led to an unpleasant experience in the class.
3. DO seek outside help in the class as soon as you can, whether it be from a TA, tutoring, or YouTube (for me, Professor Leonard helped a lot)
4. DO meet others in your class lecture/discussion and form a study group; it helps tremendously to work through the problems with others
5. Spend lots of time trying to understand the hardest problems on the homework; if you can get through the hardest homework problems with relative ease, then you will ace your exams. It’s just that the hardest homework problems are tremendously difficult.

To all who are stuck in this class: good luck. To all who are choosing a professor for 32A, I highly recommend that you choose a different professor unless you want to intentionally make the class 10-15 times more difficult.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Dec. 3, 2019 Grade Received: B+

So a little background about myself. I ended up in the unfortunate situation of having taken multivariable calculus before with an A in high school but not being able to receive credit for it. But I figured "no biggie, I'll just breeze through this since I've done it before."

Since enrolling in this class, I can report that even as someone who is already intimately familiar with MVC that I could not tell you with any modicum of confidence how to do half of the homework. Several problems required content from the 33 series (especially 33B) or beyond for no good reason, and several times the two TAs both agreed that the problems were not an appropriate difficulty at all. To loosely quote my TA on multiple occasions, "why he expects you to know or solve this problem is completely beyond me."

Also, just a heads-up; he's very inconsistent about how often he checks his emails. He admits himself he rarely (if ever) checks it, so if you need help, you're better off asking your TA.

The only reason I can say I had a net positive experience with the class is purely ironic appeal. He wears the same outfit every day (to the point where there was a very clear reaction when he varied it up), and he says some really weird stuff in class, but when this is an introductory class and the lectures are more disorganized than the plot of The Room, I'm not surprised 20 people dropped in the first two weeks and that several people abandoned their STEM majors because of this class.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Nov. 20, 2019 Grade Received: NR

So I know my review is pretty negative, so I'll start out with some pros. He wears the same snazzy chalk-stained black t-shirt, blue jeans, and jacket to class every day, has a New Jersey accent, makes a lot of anti-humor jokes, and bears a passing resemblance to the new Joker. Cons: The material covered in his class is far beyond the scope of 32A, and for me at least was very difficult to understand. His homework is also only very loosely related to the 32A material covered in the book required for this class, and is basically impossible to do without the help of TAs. I think you can gauge how difficult his midterms and finals are from what I wrote before (spoiler: they are incredibly difficult). Not gonna lie, this class was probably the worst experience I had during this quarter. If you do get put in his class, however, I would recommend that you try to switch out as soon as possible, that way you won't be too behind in the new lecture.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted April 4, 2020 Grade Received: NR

So I gave this guy a review last quarter even though I dropped his class, but I erred on the side of leniency because I had just started at UCLA and didn't really have anything to compare him to. Now that I've taken M32A with a different prof. in Winter quarter (Prof. Sherry Gong btw, she was amazing) and just had more professors at UCLA in general, I've realised that Chayes is definitely the worst professor I've had here at UCLA, both because of his teaching and his overall unhelpfulness and ego issues (I know this all sounds harsh but I would not be saying this if it weren't true). If I had stayed in Chayes' I'm sure I would've gotten a D and just not have been able to learn the necessary material for 32A, but in the other prof's class I actually learned the material through completing *relevant* homework assignments and ended up with an A-. So the key takeaway here is: if there are a lot of open spots in a lecture, there's probably a reason for it! Good luck to y'all, especially during this online quarter!

Quarter Taken: Fall 2016 Submitted Nov. 8, 2019 Grade Received: C+

You really won't learn much from his lectures in my opinion. He is such a genius I can only imagine multi-variable calculus is how the average UCLA student sees the multiplication table. I had friends who did well in this class, but they were some of the smartest people I knew. This class is not for the faint hearted or for the kid who thinks "I like math since I did really well in high school." Read the ratings he has <2 for a reason.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2016 Submitted Jan. 5, 2018 Grade Received: B-

Prior to this class, I got an A or A+ in every math class I ever took with minimal effort. I love math (especially calculus) and it's very easy for me, but this class was obviously not as easy. First midterm was pretty easy, I ended up with 100%, but on the second midterm one problem was entirely new material, not at all related to the homework we'd done. Struggling with that one question got me a 70% on that midterm. Basically, no matter how good at math you are, you really have to study and 100% understand the topics, because the homework really isn't going to help.

Professor Chayes himself can be funny at times, but overall isn't a good lecturer. Lectures were boring (this coming from someone who usually does find math interesting). He gives off the vibe that he doesn't care about the class/the students. For second midterm, he was 30 minutes late to a 2 hour exam, the TAs had no clue where he was, and he made no effort to account for the fact that we had 75% of the time we were supposed to. The material covered is actually quite easy, so if you take a different professor, you'll be fine.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2016 Submitted Dec. 7, 2016 Grade Received: A

Homework and Exams:
Chayes gives very difficult homework that involves really weird applications of 32A material (differential equations, Laplace's equation, convex sets, coordinate inversion). However, as long as you learn and understand thoroughly how to solve the problems, (with help from your TA/the internet) the midterms are not too hard. They are almost exact repeats of homework problems and past midterms. The average for the first two midterms was around 85% if I am not mistaken. Part of that is due to the fact that there are 115 points possible out of 100 (if you get 112 points you get 100/100, if you get 91 points you get 91/100). The final was very difficult because they were new-ish applications of some of the concepts but the context of the weird applications were explained and the problems were definitely solvable.

Lecture: Chayes does not go over a lot of examples. It's kind of a bummer but the concepts are explained very well. You will like Chayes if you like to learn proofs. It is possible to do well in the class without going to lecture but sometimes he covers stuff that is not particularly stressed or taught in the same way in the textbook. Going to lecture is advised. He writes small so you might want to go to lecture a little bit early to snag one of the seats near the front of the room. Chayes is also a caricature of the eccentric mathematician brought to life. His lectures are very funny.

Office Hours: I never went to Chayes' office hours but I did not hear many good things from people who did. I heard sometimes he would ignore people who came to him for questions in order to watch baseball. However, when people asked questions during class he didn't seem to be much of a dick about it. So I have no idea how to rate his helpfulness. He doesn't respond to email. If you desperately need to go to office hours the TA's are probably a much safer choice.

Overall: Chayes is weird and his problems are hard as fuck but his class is manageable if you put in the effort. Do not overestimate your problem solving skills because you breezed through BC Calculus in High School and got a 5 on the AP Exam. I made that mistake and tried doing the first problem sets last minute with no help and got absolutely rekt. Going to discussion and tutoring at the Student Math Center helped me get the grade I got in this class. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Good luck to you and pray to the Big Kahuna!

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted March 27, 2020 Grade Received: N/A

If at all possible, do not take this professor.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted March 6, 2020 Grade Received: C+

Like the other reviews say, DO NOT take Professor Chayes. Take the 8am over him if you have to. He spends the entire lecture doing proofs that are extremely difficult to understand and spends little time actually teaching the concepts you have to know and going through examples to help you learn. I am admittedly no math genius, but even the smartest people in the class (and people who took multivariable calculus in high school!) could not follow his lectures and had to self-study the material on their own. The homework problems are often unclear and are needlessly difficult to the point that even the TAs struggle to complete them, and they cover topics that no other 32A class expects you to know. My friends who took 32A with other professors had a much, much easier time. The homework sets are doable with a lot of help from TAs and classmates, and the midterms aren't too hard, but the final is ridiculously difficult, so even if you're doing okay through most of the quarter you can easily end the class with a low grade. I had an A going into the final and ended the class with a C+. Even if you're smarter than me, don't make your life unnecessarily hard. Just take 32A with another professor.

If you do end up stuck with Chayes, here's some tips: the book is decently helpful with a lot of the material, so I'd recommend reading it. Professor Leonard's videos are also useful. Very importantly: go to the test bank and do his past midterms! All of his midterm problems will be taken from past midterms, so if you do them you'll actually have an easy time. You can't get past finals from the test bank though, so you'll be going in blind, and it's a lot harder than the midterms. As such, my best advice is just to do everything you can to take this class with another professor.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2018 Submitted Jan. 8, 2020 Grade Received: A+

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1 of 9

Tags

  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Tough Tests
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Often Funny
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