Jump Start lecture Aug 27, 2009 in FSC 1005

Jump Start for International students, Aug 27 2009

I'm Richard Anstee, a Professor of Mathematics, my research area is Discrete Mathematics and I am working with one second year undergraduate student and one Ph.D. student on research. I taught a section of first year calculus, a section of Math 184, for the last three years but not this fall. I understand that you are here trying to orient yourself to UBC; some of your questions are those of any new student and some are specific to International students. Most of what I have to say is general and so feel free to ask questions for clarification.

The first year Calculus is split into two parts Differential Calculus and Integral Calculus. Some of you might only take the differential calculus which is fine and certainly suitable for Commerce. Those in Science or Applied Science will be taking both parts. Those going on in Economics might take integral calculus as well. Today I'm only going to talk about first term Differential Calculus.

The differential calculus gets offered in many `flavours'

MATH 100 for physical sciences

MATH 102 for life sciences

MATH 104 for commerce, economics social sciences

The differences are partly those of the applications chosen in the courses and it seems that MATH 104 is slightly less technically challenging.

The requirements for such a course would be a good high school algebra course(grade 80% or higher) and a high school calculus course(content not so critical). AP or IB are excellent substitutes and say a grade of 5 on AP BC would give you exemption from these courses.

MATH 180 is a 4 credit version of MATH 100 for those who didn't take Calculus in High School.

MATH 184 is a 4 credit version of MATH 104 for those who didn't take Calculus in High School.

The requirements for these course would be a good high school algebra coursewith a grade 80% or higher or just the course plus a grade of at least 16/30 on our Basic Skills test.

MATH 120 is a 4 credit version of MATH 100 for those with great success in Mathematics, at UBC we call this an Honours course

MATH 110 is a 6 credit course offered over two terms to get less well prepared students to complete MATH 100. A substantial portion of the course will review the algebra needed which may or may not have been taught to you in High School The requirement is a good high school algebra course but with a grade less than 80% (some flexibility on the boundaries depending on student numbers) and a poor or non existent Basic Skill test

This new course MATH 110 a year long 6 credit course that gets you to the end of Differential Calculus. Of course this costs $$ and time so is only sensible if you couldn't achieve reasonable success in the 3 or 4 credit versions.

Basic Skills Test

The Basic Skills test, one sitting will be Thursday Sept 3 the last week before classes and one sitting will be the first week of classes Thursday Sept 10. You choose. If you score high enough (I believe its 16/30) then you can take one of the one term Differential Calculus courses. Transferring sections can be a challenge and will involve compromises. I'd completely recommend the test September 3 to allow more time for course shuffling if necessary. For those who need to be forced into MATH 110 this can be awkward since it is a year long course. If you wish to argue that your grade 12 score is improperly recorded this is not something the Math department deals with and I expect it will be too late at the Registrar's office to process for this coming term. We did send emails reminding students in this situation some time ago.

After you have finished a differential calculus course you are ready for integral calculus but by then you shoulld be ready to navigate the UBC system.

Question 1. Am I in the right course?

This is difficult to answer and we have found over time that International students are not so easy to place and, for example, many get placed in MATH 104 rather than MATH 184 on the grounds that they `saw' Calculus in High school but in fact they didn't learn enough there. BC provincial standards are pretty good. But we can also have erorrs the other way. You can ask me questions or others for advice.

Question 2. How can I test myself to see which is the right course?

You can register for the `Basic Skills' test, even if you are not required to take it, that is given twice early in September that will give you feedback on your basic algebra skills. We could offer advice such as `if your score is under x%, then we urge you to consider Course Y' and in addition will have pointers to remedial/review materials. There will be no forced streaming this year other than you cannot proceed top a one term Calculus course unless you have met the prerequisites (80% in Math 12 or score at least 16/30 on Basic Skills test. You will also have tests in your classes that will give feedback.

What are the critical algebra skills? Basic ideas such as lines (slopes and intercepts), function composition and inverses, exponential function and logarithm, sin and cos and tan, factoring polynomials, manipulating rational functions of polynomials,... They are not taught directly in 104 or 184 but would be reviewed in 110. Would you like a few sample questions from the Basic Skills Test?

Of course hardwork can overcome deficiencies in background while overconfidence and laziness can squander a good background. I've seen these various scenarios. The most frustrating is a students who tries but can't seem to catch up in time; fortunately this is rare.

Question 3. How can I switch and when?

The usual drop/add day is two weeks into classes (september 23). You could have a basic skills test under your belt. You may be able to move from Math 104 to Math 184 or MATH 184 to Math 110 or to the Continuing Education courses (non credit) but this is entirely at the discretion of the department. Not a lot of time but some time. The withdrawal date is October 16. If your midterm grades suggest you are going to flunk the course then seek help. After Oct 16 it will be on your transcript if you flunk.

To switch courses you might well start with a direct inquiry to the Math department office. Individual faculty in Mathematics do not handle registration. Ask questions. Get help promptly. We can't do much for you later in the term.

Question 4. What will I learning in Differential Calculus?

The main topic is that of `rate of change' or derivative. You learn various ways to think of this concept, various ways to compute the quantities involved and various ways to apply the concept in MATH 104 or 184 the focus will be on Economics applications that you will see in ECON 101 if you take it. Some say that Calculus is the greatest intellectual accomplishment of Mankind. there are some amazing concepts here. Fortunately we don't ask you to invent them.

first example: speed is the rate of change of your position with respect to time.

second example: inflation rate is rate of change of prices (consummer price index) divided by prices and this is called a relative derivative.

third example: perhaps you measure a population of say horses and compute the rate of change of weight with respect to height

Question 5. Where and when do I go for help.

Go early and often. Keeping up is as important here as in any course. You are in University; you won't be able to successfully study at the last minute. Math help is available in several venues

1. Your lectures (don't skip them; ask questions)

2. Your workshops if you are in MATH 110 or MATH 180 or Math 184

3. office hours of your instructor

4. Fellow students

5. Tutorial hours of Mathematics department Tutorial Centre or AMS tutoring.

Questions?? Email me at anstee@math.ubc.ca