UC Davis Math 21A -- Calculus I
Fall 2015

Basic information

Instructor: Brian Osserman
Office: Mathematical Sciences Building (MSB) Room 3218
Office Hours: M 12-1, W 2-3
Email: (Please send administrative questions to the lead TA)

Lead TA: Eric Samperton
Office Hours: T 2-3, MSB 2137
Email: egsamp@math.ucdavis.edu (please contact with all administrative questions)

B01 (CRN 59175) B02 (CRN 59176) B03 (CRN 59177) B04 (CRN 59178) B05 (CRN 59179) B06 (CRN 59180) B07 (CRN 73552)
Lectures MWF 11:00-11:50am in Haring 2205 (all sections)
R 7:10-8:00pm
Wickson 1020
R 5:10-6:00pm
Bainer 1130
R 6:10-7:00pm
Bainer 1130
R 4:10-5:00pm
Olson 146
R 8:10-9:00pm
Bainer 1132
R 3:10-4:00pm
Wellman 25
R 6:10-7:00pm
Wickson 1020
Yonggyu Lee
Yonggyu Lee
Oscar Kivinen
Eric Samperton
Shuang Ming
Alto Senda
Xiaozhu Li


11/23: Here is a note explaining how to find absolute extrema when the domain is not a closed interval.

11/6: A practice exam and solutions have been posted below.

11/2: Here is a review sheet for the second exam.

10/13: A practice exam and solutions have been posted below.

10/12: Here are a note summarizing "infinite limit laws", and a review sheet for the first exam.

10/2: Here is a note explaining the precise definition of a limit, and how to use it.

9/19: Welcome to Math 21A! Please note that discussion sections will not meet on Thursday, September 24, the official first day of class.

Suggested reading: Duane Kouba's Doing Well in Calculus.

Textbook and Syllabus:

The syllabus and textbook for the course are standardized for the entire 21 sequence. The textbook is Thomas' Calculus: Early Transcendentals, 13th edition (be careful to buy the "Early Transcendentals" version, and don't get one labeled "Single Variable" or "Multivariable"!). There is now also an option to get an electronic version of the textbook through the bookstore for $90, which you will have access to for four years and which comes with additional digital resources such as MyMathLab. You should have already received an email with details, including an access code, and instructions on how to opt out if you do not wish to use the digital textbook.

Important: if you do not want to use the electronic textbook, you must opt out of it through the UCD bookstore's webpage within the first 10 days of the course. Otherwise, you will be automatically billed for it.

If you have chosen the digital textbook, you will be able to access the MyMathLab system. This is an interactive version of the exercises in the book, which you may find more helpful than simply doing the exercises on your own. Again, this is completely optional, and will not count towards your grade, but if you wish to use it, you should enter the course ID "osserman35627".

The course will roughly cover chapters 2-4 of the book. A more detailed syllabus may be found here.



Grades will be weighted as follows: 10% for weekly quizzes, 25% for each in-class exam, and 40% for the final exam. Your quiz and exam scores will be visible throughout the quarter on SmartSite.

Cheating will be taken extremely seriously. The minimum punishment will be an F on the exam or assignment in question, and all cases will be referred to Student Judicial Affairs.

Exam grading will be on a soft curve, meaning that I do not predetermine either what scores correspond to what grades, or what percentage of students get what grades. Rather, after grading each exam I will assign grade ranges using the following general criterion: those who earn an A should demonstrate a strong mastery of nearly all the material; a B should correspond to a good working knowledge of a strong majority of the material; and C should correspond to an ability to solve routine problems in a majority of the topics covered. Under this system, if you all do well, you will all get good grades.

The first exam scores are visible on SmartSite. The mean score was 61.5%, median 63%, and standard deviation 16%.

The second exam scores are visible on SmartSite. The mean score was 77%, median 81%, and standard deviation 17%.

The letter grade ranges for the first exam are as follows:
80%-100%: A range
63-80%: B range
46-63%: C range
30-46%: D range
0-30%: F

The letter grade ranges for the second exam are as follows:
87%-100%: A range
75-87%: B range
55-75%: C range
45-55%: D range
0-45%: F

Homework and Quizzes:

Homework problems from the textbook will be assigned after every lecture, posted on SmartSite. These problems will not be collected and graded, but there will be short quizzes in each discussion based on the homework problems from the previous week's lecture (more precisely, the quiz will be based on the Wednesday and Friday lecture from the previous week, and the Monday lecture from the same week; homework numbers are grouped accordingly). You will have a chance to ask questions on the material prior to the quiz. These quizzes will be graded with no partial credit, so be sure to check your answers.


There will be two in-class exams and a final exam. These will be closed-book exams, with no calculators or notes allowed. You will write your answers directly on the exam, so do not need to bring blue books. However, be sure to bring your ID card to the exams.

Makeup exams will not be offered. If you have an unavoidable conflict with an exam date, or an emergency of some sort, you must let us know as early as possible in order to make appropriate arrangements.

The first exam will be given on Friday, October 16 and will cover chapter 2 of the book, corresponding to the material from lecture through Monday, October 12. It will be graded prior to the drop deadline, which is October 21.

Practice Exam 1
Solutions to Practice Exam 1 (note that although sketches are not included in the solutions, they are required where stated).

The second exam will be given on Monday, November 9, and will cover sections 3.1-3.9 of the book, corresponding to homeworks 4-6.

Practice Exam 2
Solutions to Practice Exam 2

The final exam is scheduled for Wednesday, December 9, 6:00-8:00pm, and will be held in our usual lecture room. It will cover material for the entire course (i.e., all of Chapters 2 and 3 and all but 4.8 of Chapter 4), but with an emphasis on material from the last third of the course.

Practice Exam 3 (Note: this is a one-hour practice exam, only covering the material since the second exam)
Solutions to Practice Exam 3


Calculators are optional for this class, and are not allowed on any quizzes or exams.

Students with disabilities:

Any student with a documented disability (e.g. physical, learning, psychiatric, vision, hearing, etc.) who needs to arrange reasonable accommodations must contact the Student Disability Center (SDC). Faculty are authorized to provide only the accommodations requested by the SDC. If you have any questions, please contact the SDC at (530)752-3184 or sdc@ucdavis.edu.

Mathematics Placement Requirement:

The placement requirement for Math 21A is set by the department. You will be administratively dropped from this course if you have not met the Mathematics Placement Requirement, which for this course is to obtain a total score of 35 or more together with a Trigonometry sub-score of 3 or more on the placement exam. If you have not met this requirement, there is nothing I can do to prevent you from being dropped. The two testing windows for Fall 2013 are 9/10-9/19 and 9/26-10/1.

Tutoring and other resources:

Success isn't just a matter of how much you study, it also depends on how effectively you use the resources available to you. These resources are listed below. However, you should also be sure to get plenty of practice solving problems on your own, since this is what you will have to do on quizzes and exams!

Office hours: Both the instructor and lead TA hold office hours, and these are a great way to get help with anything from understanding concepts to working problems.

Calculus Room: The Calculus Room, located in MSB 1118, is open M-R, 1-7PM, F 1-6PM. It is staffed with TAs to help Math 21 students.

SASC: The SASC has math drop-in hours at which you can receive tutoring for Math 21A.

Each other: You are very much encouraged to study together. This is an easy way to make your study habits more effective. A chat room and forums are enabled on SmartSite to facilitate this.


If you have any feedback on the course, regarding lecture, discussion section, homework, or any other topic, you can provide it anonymously with the below form.

Subject (optional) :