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Redesigning introductory calculus at MIT

Tid: 2022-11-23 15:30 till 16:45 Seminarium

Sanjoy Mahajan, associate professor at MIT and author of Street-Fighting Mathematics (MIT Press, 2010), will be speaking at the pedagogical seminar at the Centre for Mathematical Sciences on Wednesday 23 November. The seminar will also be streamed on Zoom (see below).


Many students, including at MIT, cannot apply calculus in downstream science and engineering courses. They can evaluate many a difficult integral but cannot translate a physical situation into the same integral. To remedy this species of rote learning, Larry Guth and I have been redesigning MIT's first-semester calculus course around mathematical modelling.  I will discuss, with enjoyable examples, the cognitive-science principle and instructional-design frameworks that we used, including our unusual rationale for using real-world problems; and discuss our mathematical choices: using physical quantities with units, using differentials instead of limits, and incorporating approximation and qualitative reasoning.

About the author

Sanjoy Mahajan obtained his PhD in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology.  He furthered his interest in improving science and mathematics education as a faculty member in the Physics Department at the University of Cambridge.  While there, he helped found the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, South Africa, where he was the first Curriculum Director and taught physics and computer science.  He has since taught physics, mathematics, and electrical engineering at Olin College of Engineering and MIT, where he is Research Affiliate in the Mathematics Department. He is the author of Street-Fighting Mathematics (MIT Press, 2010) and The Art of Insight in Science and Engineering (MIT Press, 2014), both freely licensed, and A Student's Guide to Newton's Laws of Motion (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Zoom link

https://lu-se.zoom.us/j/68300354827?pwd=Yy9sblg2SEdidnk3QWcrQzZlcDhpZz09 (password: PedSem)

Om händelsen
Tid: 2022-11-23 15:30 till 16:45

Hörmandersalen, Centre for Mathematical Sciences

jan-fredrik [dot] olsen [at] math [dot] lu [dot] se

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Sidansvarig: webbansvarig@math.lu.se | 2017-05-23