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Math 51
Winter 2021

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Some Frequently Asked Questions:

I saw on ExploreCourses that the lecture component of the course was listed as Synchronous. Does that mean I must attend the lectures remotely even though it is very inconvenient for me?

  • The 3 lectures will all be recorded, so you may watch the lecture recordings on Canvas. Synchronous participation is strongly encouraged but not mandatory.
  • We strongly encourage you to participate in a discussion section synchronously. You will develop a closer relationship in a smaller setting than lecture with your classmates and your section TA. You should attend the section you sign up for. As stated in ExploreCourses, a recording of one Passive Mode section per section day will be posted in Canvas for asynchronous viewing by students who wish to do so.

How to use the textbook? How much of the textbook am I responsible for?

  • We recommend that you read the Introduction to the textbook: pages ii through viii, in particular the section "How you should read this book" on page iv and Table 1 on page v.
    • The material in the blue boxes is important: you are responsible for that material even though we may not cover all of it in class. You should also read the part that's not in boxes, since it gives useful explanations of what is summarized in the blue boxes.
    • There are lots of real-world examples in green boxes. Don't feel you need to read all of them, but you should definitely read some. You can choose which ones to read according to your interests. You may wish to read more in future years when you encounter relevant applications in other courses or your work.
    • The material in gray boxes goes a bit deeper into various topics. Read them if you're interested (and have time), but you should feel to skip any or all of those portions of the text.
  • You are expected to read the assigned pre-class reading, but are not expected to fully understand it (this is a first exposure, with class providing further discussion).
  • For many of you, reading and digesting a math textbook will be a new learning experience. We strongly urge you to watch the instructional videos on How to read the course textbook before the first pre-class reading assignment. The intent of these video is to help make the book more approachable, and to teach you good habits about how to approach your reading, which will serve you well in your future Stanford career.
  • After each lecture, you should go over the blue boxes in the corresponding chapter and the page of chapter highlights (at the end of each chapter, immediately before the chapter's Exercises). Use the chapter highlights as a study guide (e.g. before doing the homework and when preparing for exams).
  • We also recommend that you look at some of the examples in the chapter to reinforce your understanding of material.
  • The green and gray boxes are for reading according to your interests (in specific applications and derivation details). You will not be tested on that material, but may find some application discussions to be helpful as motivation.

There are so many new terms and concepts to absorb. How can I handle it?

  • Use the Chapter highlights page to keep track of where to read about key definitions, notations, concepts and results, and computational skills. The terminology and notation are used throughout applications of math in many fields, and with experience during the course you will digest it.

Office hours are too crowded. Where else can I get help?

  • Check out the weekly schedule of office hours, noting that office hours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays are often not as crowded (since homework is due on Wednesdays). You can go to the office hours of any of the teaching staff, not just those of your own instructor or TA.
  • SUMO peer tutoring is available on Monday and Wednesday evenings 6-8PM and 10PM-12AM. Students will need to first self-enroll in the 2020-21 SUMO Tutoring Canvas Course in order access the tutoring Zoom meetings. Wednesday ones are usually less crowded and so are a good time to address conceptual questions.
  • VPTL offers free drop-in and appointment tutoring.

What will the exams look like?

  • We will post one practice exam in the format of an actual exam (in particular, Canvas Quiz with mostly numerical answer, True/False and Multiple Choice questions) 2 days before each exam. Complete solutions will be on Canvas as well.
  • To be useful for practice, please practice on the version without solutions before you look at the version with solutions.

What are some tips for writing math?

Winter 2021 -- Department of Mathematics, Stanford University
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