LP: Math 1a – Functions and Limits

As you very well know, I’m taking Math 1a, Harvard’s Single Variable Calculus class.

The second topic was easy enough, which were functions, something already discussed in pre-calculus classes. Standard, domain, co-domain stuff.

The third topic was interesting. It was about limits, which was what a function is approaching to as the index approaches a value. The idea is simple, but I can already imagine the ramifications of such an idea. We look at the values around the ‘answer’, instead of actually looking at the ‘answer’, and with the idea of calculus as the study of change.

Now perhaps its too early to say this, but I am largely betting on the fact that by solving the homework, we are actually proving a law or something in that sense. The problems are a bit tough, and generally does not only involve the topic being discussed but something more.

LP: Math 1a – Single Variable Calculus

And now we go to perhaps one of the most elusive, difficult (or so they say) subjects known to mankind, calculus.

People exaggerate too much, sheesh.

Anyway, for my Harvard Challenge, I now plan on taking Math1a – Single Variable Calculus, in conjunction with 8.01x Classical Mechanics, which actually goes hand in hand since 8.01 lists Calculus as a co-requisite.

I’m actually a bit of a Math geek, but skimming through the syllabus was a bit scary. Math 1a, in its own words, states that “they will leave no time in the class for precalculus”. So that means if your precalc is weak, you’re dead.

The pedagogy of teaching Calculus was also quite interesting from what I managed to see so far, which is not at all surprising coming from Harvard. In the few months that I ‘took’ Harvard Classes, I already see an almost immediate pattern. Unlike some other classes I’ve taken, where something is defined first and then studied, Harvard makes you study something and so you can discover and define them yourself. (Which is actually advantage #2 in Independent Learning)