Information | Review |
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Samuel Braunfeld
MATH475 Expecting an A Anonymous 05/14/2021 |
tl;dr: If you are wary of group work or minor disorganization, then perhaps he might not be the professor for you, but otherwise, I think he was great. Difficulty (for a senior-level math class): 3/5. Topic Interest/Usefulness: 5/5. Course Materials & Organization: 4/5. This class was essentially flipped, which meant some troubles during COVID: It is much more likely for people not to show or not to participate when they're sitting, camera-off, behind a screen. In any case, when it operated properly, it went very well, and I won't dock him for a global pandemic reducing student participation. Essentially, we would have a worksheet every week or two to work through in small groups, with him popping in periodically to answer questions or provide guidance. Then, we would reconvene into the full session toward the end to go over what was on the worksheet. His exams were both take-home, and they were fair in their difficulty and scope, very comparable to the homework. Both exam and homework consisted of guided, long-form problems, often proving fundamental results or exploring a toy example. I generally prefer exams to be of this kind, perhaps with some quizzes on very basic material to check students are actually familiar with the content. The nature of the course content made it such that he could get away with this without worrying much about cheating. The two exams and homework essentially comprised the grade in equal 1/3 parts, except there was also a 5% participation grade. The exams and homework are longer than most senior-level math classes', but it is very light outside of that and the assignments are not particularly difficult; it is a class with relatively little theory, one where it is even easier than usual not to read at all, where perusing a completed worksheet for five minutes would catch you up on the essential information to do the homework, and the rest is your own perseverance and ingenuity. His arguments are not always the most polished. He seems to prepare mostly by having informally looked over the day's worksheet and then doing additional thinking in-real-time, which mostly led to clear, precise proofs because, of course, he knows the material very well (and indeed uses combinatorics in his research). Still, because of this, there were times where he had to develop arguments on-the-spot a few times, which is naturally a non-linear, somewhat clumsy process. He always eventually prevented a clean solution, however, and for some students, I suspect the humility of seeing their professor make some silly mistakes or have to take some time to think over basic material can be nice, as can just seeing the thought process and participating in it (he would welcome student ideas and discussion in the few times he briefly got stuck in this way). |

Samuel Braunfeld
MATH120 Expecting an A Anonymous 05/04/2021 |
I was really nervous to take math120 since I had never taken a calc before. Prof Braunfeld made it super easy to understand and truly changed my viewpoint on math. He is a great professor and his lectures perfectly explain how to do everything. The workload is not bad at all and he made the class all asych so it was super easy to stay on track. Take his if you have the option!! By far one of the best math teachers I have ever had. |

Samuel Braunfeld
MATH120 Expecting an A+ Anonymous 04/29/2021 |
Amazing professor. Highly recommended if you need to take Math120. The most accommodating professor during covid and actually thought so well. Nice grader, drops two lowest homework! |

Samuel Braunfeld
MATH461 Expecting an A+ kjmehta 05/17/2020 |
Easy enough to follow along with, understanding guy. Made 461 really easy after covid made everything online, but even before he was a good lecturer and everything. |

Samuel Braunfeld
MATH461 Expecting an A Anonymous 05/16/2020 |
Seriously a wonderful guy. Easily the most accomodating of all of the professors I have had after COVID struck. Instead of doing what most other professors did and slightly altering the course schedule, Braunfeld completely changed the class structure, moving all assignments to a fully-online platform, dropping the final exam in place of quizzes, and various other accommodations. Braunfeld's in-person lecture style may be a turnoff for some, but I found it refreshing. Since linear algebra produces many reformulations of the same type of system, Braunfeld took the first couple of weeks slow, really ensuring that we understood Gaussian elimination and other techniques. From there he flew through the rest of the material, using the solid foundation we had (hopefully) built up to prove various properties of linear systems and working in the various formalisms. Braunfeld also provided a geometric intuition, which was nice to see, as spatial systems are usually easier to understand than numerical ones. Braunfeld often proves his claims, which for some students may be confusing at first glance. I know that some 200-level courses generally shirk proofs to get to the material, relegating the explanation to the textbook. Because linear algebra is fairly simple at this level, most of the proofs were immediately obvious and came from easy-to-remember properties of matrices and systems. It is an important skill regardless, so this may be one of the best times to learn how to follow a proof. The assignments themselves were easy, which I feel is a reflection of the professor. The lenience of the homework meant that I received a perfect score on each one, as they do not lock you out after a small number of attempts. The exam problems are usually of the same ilk as the homework, and the TAs stressed that you can always check your answers. I finished the first midterm in about half the time provided. Even though the class average was pretty high, Braunfeld will not curve negatively. I highly recommend him, as clearly he knows how to convey the material to his students. You will know linear algebra well by the end of the semester if you take Braunfeld. Overall, |

Samuel Braunfeld
MATH461 Expecting an A+ Anonymous 05/06/2020 |
Had him for COVID461. He makes it easy to do well in the course. Multiple attempts on homework problems, explicit exam review sessions, and group work for MATLABS. He does talk fast and you should definitely read beforehand or you won't understand what he's saying. And he makes about 3 mistakes per lecture which we always catch luckily. His second time teaching this course though idk. From my interactions with him after class and asking questions he seems patient enough. I'd take him again. |

Samuel Braunfeld
MATH401 Expecting an A Anonymous 12/20/2018 |
Had him for 401 in Fall 2018 semester. Although it was his first time teaching at UMD, I'd say he's alright. Just alright, not good or great, but not terrible. Pros: -- Has groupwork assignments every week or two weeks, which are free 10/10's /padding to your grade. -- Homeworks due two classes after a groupwork, and he generally grades them fairly. -- He also posts almost all his notes online (which are well written), so missing class is not too big a deal if you learn well from textbooks and notes. Cons: -- Speaks fast and goes through the material quickly, often backpedaling to correct mistakes on the board. Not really an engaging lecturer. -- Exams had a few minor curveball problems here and there, could have been more fair. |