MATH 111                    Precalculus                    Spring 2005


Welcome to Precalculus!  In this class we’ll be covering all the topics you’ll need to know in order to excel in Calculus.  Some of those topics will be a review for you, some will be new – in all cases, we’ll make sure everyone’s on board before moving to the next topic.  To do this, I need your help.  When you understand a topic well, I’ll be enlisting you to help teach everyone else.  When you are struggling with a topic, you’ll need to look to your classmates - as well as me and our TA, Jeff – for help.  Together, we can make Precalculus both understandable and fun.


Class Philosophy: One learns math by doing it, not by watching other people do it.  Consequently, you will be required to participate actively during class, and work very hard outside of it.  The payoff: the harder you work in here, the easier Calculus will be for you.


Throughout the semester, I will be giving each of you ideas about what you need to do to improve your understanding of Precalculus.  Some of these apply to everyone: read the section we will cover before coming to class, try some of the homework problems ahead of time, do lots and lots of homework problems (more than I assign to hand in), don't fall asleep in class, etc.  Others will be more directed, and probably suggested to you when you come to my office hours (see below).  The flip side of this is that you need to give me ideas about the course, and how to make sure you get the most out of it.  I will give a survey at some point, but if at any time you have something to share with me, just let me know (anonymous note, phone, email, e-greeting, etc).  This semester, you’ll also be asked to fill out a questionnaire about me – as part of my tenure decision next year.  Please take this responsibility seriously.


Where to go for help: You have three main resources to draw on when you need help in this class.  The first and most important is your fellow classmates.  Calculus will go much smoother for all of us if you start getting to know them and start studying with them outside of class early in the semester.  The second is me.  Your third resource will be your TA, Jeff Lee.  We can be reached at:


Dave Kung


175 Schaefer

dtkung at

Jeff Lee



jglee at


Office Hours:  Here are my official office hours.  In addition to these, I am in my office most days.  If you’d like to meet, stop by or drop me an email.











Grading:  There’s two levels to learning Precalculus: learning how to do things and learning why to do things.  If you just learn how to do things, you’ll earn at least a C, and forget what you’ve learned before you even get to Calculus.  Our goal in here is the latter – learning why algebra works the way it does, why graphs look the way they do, and why functions change in the manner that they do.  This is the sort of knowledge that’s required to get a top grade in this course.  Higher grades will be earned by understanding Calculus at a deeper, theoretical level.  Your ability to explain mathematical ideas will continually be tested, both in class and on exams.  If there’s something you don’t understand, it’s your responsibility to ask – then it becomes the responsibility of the rest of us (myself included) to explain it in a way that clears up your confusion.


There will be a variety of ways to show that you are learning Precalculus.  They will contribute to your final grade as follows:


Assessment                                    Date                                Percent  

Exam I                                           February 2nd                       16

Exam II                                          March 2th                           16 

Exam III                                         April 6th                              16 

Homework                                     all semester                         10 

Class Participation                          all semester                         10 

Final Exam                                     Monday, May 9th, 9am       32      

Total                                                                                      100 


The exams are in the evening starting at 6pm and are essentially untimed.  Be sure to mark these on your calendar now – and inform me of any conflicts. 


Learning in this class is considered to be everyone's shared responsibility.  Part of that responsibility is attendance; when you are not here, not only do you miss important work, but the entire class misses out on your contribution.  The Class Participation portion of your grade will reflect that.  In addition, we will be working in groups very frequently; how well you work with others will also factor into the Class Participation portion of your grade.