Math/Applied Math

<p>Can anyone who knows please share your experiences with the undergraduate math and/or applied math professors at Brown? Son was there for ADOCH and STEM programs and has mixed feelings about what he saw.</p>


<p>I haven't had great experiences. I gather the Applied Math Department is great; I've run into 2 mediocre (bordering on sub-par) professors and poorly taught classes. Perhaps this was the nature of the courses (statistics), or perhaps it says something else. I have heard good things about 35 and 36, so I would take my observations from that department with a grain of salt.</p>

<p>As far as math, I have an amazing lecturer right now. Unfortunately, he's a third year graduate student. I know at least one professor is amazing, but the other professor I've had was very poor. Not a horrible lecturer, but the logistics of the course were confusing. We had no idea how we were doing in the course or how we were being evaluated. No exams, 5 problem sets where we were explicitly told he didn't expect us to be able to solve the problems...I haven't had great experiences. If your son is looking at Brown just because of pure Math, there might be better schools on his list. If he's fine with coming to an alright, but hardly excellent math program because of other aspects of Brown, he'll probably be able to look past the professors.</p>

<p>Uroogla- S is actually thinking of Applied Math specifically. However, during visit only got to see a little bit of one professor and a TA who actually led the break out session for admitted students/parents. A professor from the Math dept. led the Math break out session and he was pretty horrible :(</p>

<p>He generally loves Brown but really didn't get a good sense of the Applied Math faculty quality. He would probably still attend without knowing anything further but it is still somewhat of a concern. His other option is Johns Hopkins, btw.</p>

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<p>I'm a future Applied Math major and I have no regrets. I've only heard good things about applied math and that it is an extremely strong department. Pure math, on the other hand, I hear is horrific.</p>

<p>I've got a lot of friends considering math and applied math, and they tell me about professors in both departments they think are amazing (no names are coming to mind right now, but I could scrounge some up if you wanted). The thing with math, and to some extent subjects like physics, is that you're likely going to do most of your learning outside the classroom, when you do your problem sets with friends. While that doesn't mean you'll learn the same from a good teacher as from a bad teacher, it does mean teacher quality is likely to be less important than, say, in anthropology.</p>

<p>swim2daend said he heard the Brown pure Math department is 'horrific'. Can you elaborate? Calling a whole department horrific is a pretty severe statement. Can anyone else tell of their experience with the math department professors? Here is a list of the math professors - is this the group that is horrific? Brown</a> University Mathematics Department</p>

<p>My son is a freshman and is a math guy--loves regular math, not applied, does math just for fun, etc. He knew that applied math was the stronger program at Brown but wanted to be here as he has other broad interests. He has been in math classes mostly with upper classmen and has really liked his math professors this year very much--his math professors have been among his favorite at Brown.</p>

<p>Horrific is a strong word. It depends on what you're comparing to, though. Compared to the other Ivies, my understanding is that the department is, at best, subpar. The professors may have wonderful credentials, but if they are poor teachers, make it unclear what course expectations are, and (occasionally) struggle enough with English that they have to stop quite a bit and so don't cover the material, there are problems. It's true that a lot of the complaints come from students in courses below the 1000 level (who are effectively scared away from the subject by teachers/grad students who don't explain things in a way that they understand and either don't try to seek out help or aren't cut out for the rigorous proof-based mathematics). I've heard amazing things about Professor Silverman, as well. With that said, he's the only professor I've ever heard complimented by an undergraduate student. As stated, though, the professors don't matter nearly as much in fields like math where you'll be learning by going through the book with others in the class and doing the assignments. Of course, if the professor chooses a book poorly translated from a language you don't know (as was the case in my differential equations class), that could be problematic...</p>

<p>@luv2plant: As a whole, the applied math department and its professors seem very good. I know the two professors I took classes with and mentioned were rated fairly low only the Critical Review and so are likely outliers. I wouldn't worry very much about professors in that department.</p>

<p>I'm a freshman at brown majoring in something math-y, hopefully I can provide a different perspective on this. Some background first: In my first year, I've taken 4 math courses (no applied math though): multivariable calc, linear algebra, analysis, algebra. </p>

<p>Here's my take on things: a lot of the complaints in the math department come from people in the lower level courses (multivariable / linear) that have to take them for concentration requirements (econ, CS, etc...). The complaints aren't unfounded, my multivariable course (the honors version) was incredibly bad, but it really depends on the professor. Last year, Banchoff (Thomas</a> Banchoff - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) taught the class, and Banchoff is basically a god at teaching. </p>

<p>But once you get past the calculus sequence, math gets, surprisingly, pretty good here. Sure, it's got nothing on Harvard or Princeton, and I'll complain about it with my friends for fun, but every time I look at the course catalog I'm reminded that most of the upper level classes are very well taught. There's nothing terribly special about the department (besides Banchoff), but it really gets the job done and my friends and I have been overall highly satisfied with the teaching. </p>

<p>Applied math on the other hand has a very good reputation, and although I haven't taken any classes in it yet, I only hear good reviews. Some examples, Mumford has a field's medal, and I hear is a good teacher. Geman, who teaches information theory, is just amazing (and where else are you going to get an undergraduate course in info theory). Basically I haven't heard anything negative about applied math professors, but that's all second hand information.</p>

<p>good luck.</p>

<p>applied math here is phenomenal. combine it with cs, the second strongest science department here, and you will have any career open to you at graduation.</p>

<p>cool professors, rigorous classes, smart students. can't go wrong.</p>

<p>My daughter's experiences are the same as pk6391's experiences, though not as many classes. The MV Calculus (honors) professor was ineffective. Linear Algebra (honors) seems to be a lot better. Her section is being taught by a grad student.</p>

<p>MA35 (MV honors) is a notoriously difficult course that's rarely taught very well. Beyond that class, I've heard few complaints. I only took through linear, but had 2/3 great experiences in the math department and I've heard nothing but praise for Applied Math.</p>

<p>Two of my friends who were math concentrators got into the top programs of their choice and didn't complain much about faculty, they were more interested/happy about all the graduate level work they were able to do while here.</p>

<p>I don't have personal experience with the Applied Math courses, my friends tell me they're good, but the math professors are hit or miss. I don't mean to make them sound bad. The lecture experience relies predominantly on the teaching style of the professor. Last semester, my professor was a little bland, and to make up for this, I had to learn material out of class. This semester, I have a very articulate lecturer who is able to convey the topics in a much more lucid manner. Remember, for many math and science courses, half of the learning is through problem sets outside of class.</p>

<p>@mom58: This graduate student is, by far, the most amazing teacher I have had at Brown (I'm in this class at the moment). With that said, I have the sneaking suspicion that this is the exception and not the rule, especially since this comes in part from his more laid back and humourous approach to the subject that I haven't seen from other professors.</p>

<p>I am by no means a math person so I don't know if I'll be of much help, but for what it's worth, I shopped quite a few math courses last semester for about two weeks (math17 and 18 mostly) and I thought many of the grad students were better than the professors. Much more laid back and "mommy/daddy" like (what I mean by that is periodically checking in to make sure everyone was on the same page). I'm not sure if we can mention names on this forum, but there was one grad student who I found exceptionally helpful---in fact, students were lining up at the door begging him to let them in his class--courses taught by grad students are capped at 30 (he was nice enough to let about 5 more people in though)! I hope he'll be here for a little while longer because when my schedule opens up, I would absolutely love to take a math class with this guy!</p>

<p>Sorry if I used too harsh of a word. I just repeated what I heard. I don't know anything about the department really, to be honest.</p>

<p>Hey, I'm applying next year and interested in the Applied Mathematics program. Is it common to pursue an Applied Mathematics and Economics degree? I'm interested in ultimately going into business so going for an Applied Mathematics and Economics degree is a win-win situation for me.</p>

<p>Applied Math-Econ is an existing, single degree at Brown that's very popular and quite strong.</p>

<p>Applied Math - Econ is a great choice to study at Brown, as the two fields are among the best at Brown. </p>

<p>Regarding pure math at Brown: I disagree completely with the premise that pure math is horrific here. Interestingly enough, the best class I have ever taken (despite probably being an applied math concentrator) was a pure math class. First, Brown math has a great reputation, even its graduate program which is ranked in the top 15, and especially for undergrads. IMO the extremely well-known applied math department tends to overshadow the excellence of the pure math department in people's minds (CS which is top 20 was cited as one of the best departments here, but I think the math department is better; this is what I mean by "overshadowing"). Second, lower-level courses are, from what I hear, not taught particularly well; however, this is not a problem for you prospective math majors who will probably not be taking Intro to Calculus here. By the way, as an alternative to the typical calculus sequence, I would encourage anyone interested in taking a math class to give Number Theory (MATH 42) with Joe Silverman a shot. This course would give you an idea of how amazing Brown's math class can be, and it has no pre-requisites but is still taught very rigorously. </p>



<p>Banchoff was visiting Stanford this year, but he's going to be teaching Differential Geometry (MATH 106) in the Fall if you're interested. But there are other great teachers here too. I consistently hear that Michael Rosen is one of the best teachers ever, so I'm probably going to take his Number Theory (MATH 156) class in the spring. </p>

<p>I agree with you that pure math here is awesome (once you're past calculus). However, I would say that there are compelling reasons to do math at Brown over H or P. The open curriculum is great because it lets undergrads take the courses at their own pace without having to deal with prereqs. I know at least six students who already took graduate courses as sophomores, and many more juniors and seniors doing the same. That's probably possible at other schools, but it's very common here at Brown because getting into any class is as easy: just ask for permission. The department is very encouraging to its advanced students and that makes it a great environment to get something truly valuable out of your studies. I have been extremely satisfied with teaching here, and I even have a couple of friends doing research with profs in the department. The fact that its smaller and more undergrad focused, like the rest of the university, makes opportunities like this more plentiful and that's why I think Brown is a fantastic place to study pure math.</p>

<p>Forgive me if I'm repeating anything, I actually am taking a study break from a series of 2-hour-long practice exams and my brain can't really tolerate much exertion at the moment... Here's a freshman's take:</p>

<p>I'm currently a first-year student at Brown, who is planning to study Applied Math - Biology. I have taken a class in linear algebra and the introductory applied math sequence (APMA0350/0360).
So, I actually enjoyed my experiences very much! I'm guessing you have to be choosy when it comes to the pure math department, because my boyfriend currently hates his linear algebra professor for being condescending and rude whereas my professor was very thorough and helpful (though somewhat dry... when it comes to making class exciting). But, not all math professors are like this. My advisor (a professor in the math department) is really nice; I tried taking a class with him, but I decided that it wasn't for me.
The best part of my mathematical experiences here is definitely focused around the applied math department. The current professor for the intro APMA sequence is a genius(! he's like mid-to-late-twenties with a PhD and he's teaching us stuff that "is not in the textbook" but he kind of came up with and it works) and funny(!) and gives difficult exams (he gave us 8 hours to do our final exam last semester... and some didn't quite finish by the end), but you can't have everything, right? The APMA DUG (Department of Undergraduate Group?) holds a bunch of lectures showing what interesting things APMA professors research. It really lets you get to know the APMA professors that you wouldn't've planned to come across.
Nonetheless, there is so much support here. Math Resource Center, my APMA 35/36 class has 3 TA's with rescitation and office hours in addition to my professor's office hours, WiSE study groups, blahblahblah you name it!</p>

<p>:) Hope this helps! Forgive my scattermindedness...</p>

<p>P.S. APMA DUG always has free samosas at their lectures, and they've just started this cool annual non-calculus math competition called "Brain Power Hour".</p>