OpenFiction [Blog]

1970 was a good year for calculus

In what has to be my runaway new favorite on the site, we’ve just released Calculus Revisited, a series of videos by MIT professor Herb Gross. Now you can learn calculus old school—literally!

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  1. Herb Gross said, on January 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    As the person who developed “calculus revisited”, it gives me indescribable pleasure to know that the videos I produced 40 years ago have been resurrected and can now help teach a new generation of students, many of whom were not yet born when the videos were made.

    I am now 81 years old and it won’t be too many more years before I will be able to teach calculus posthumously. :)

    • scarsonmsm said, on January 19, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Let’s all hope that day doesn’t arrive for many years to come…

  2. Herb Gross said, on January 19, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks for the kind words. Actually I am in good health and working dilligently in an effort to complete my website (www.adjectivenounmath.com) where i am posting my airhtmetic and algebra videos and power points so that others, especially those who are stressed by math, may benefit from my work, free of charge,

    • Adam O Martin said, on April 10, 2012 at 6:19 am

      Thank you Sir! You, and anyone like you truly deserve a C.M.O. or something similar! Great to know you’re still kickn’ and in good health to boot.

      • Herb Gross said, on April 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm

        Thanks Adam.

        Comments such as yours add to my fulfillment. It is hard to describe my reaction to knowing that work that I developed over 40 years ago has now been digitized and uploaded by OCW so that an entire new generation of learners, many of whom were not yet born when the series was developed, can now have access to my work. It may sound a bit eerie but thanks to OCW and the Rosenbaum Foundation (who underwrote the cost of the digitizing) I may even be able to teach posthumously It’s a great feeling! BTW, if you would like to, you can write to me directly at hgross3@comcast.net.

  3. David Pearce said, on August 26, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Dear Prof. Gross,

    How wonderful to know you, how delightful to touch you (figuratively speaking, of course!). Thanks for your great MIT videos. I only regret that Amy Winehouse will not be able to study your videos, despite the fact, irrespective of months and days, that she was only 1/3rd your age. Sir, thank you for your service and thank you for your smile!

  4. herb Gross said, on August 27, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your very kind words. It was a wonderful feeling to see, after 40 years, my videos digitized and uploaded so that a whole new generation of students could learn from them. I feel truly blessed.

    By the way, I now have my own website (www.adjectivenounmath.com) where I am uploading all of my arithmetic and algebra videos, slide shows and written materials for all to use free of charge. I hope you will visit this site and perhaps even comment in my guest book.

    In the meantime feel free to write tome (hgross3@comcast.net) if you ever feel that my input might be helpful to you

    With warmest regards and best wishes,

    herb Gross

  5. qed3086 said, on June 6, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Professor Gross,
    Wow! As a relative “newcomer” to advanced maths, you’re body of work concerning what you have done to make Calculus and Mathematics in general more “available” has been (at least to me) a heroic success!! I study your lectures and ruminate on them quite frequently. To me, it is you’re teaching style that makes you such a master in your craft. The mechanical material has obviously always been there but your conversational style easy going lecture style makes a student feel more relaxed and therefore more receptive to focus and learn what you are talking about. You have definitely helped me understand higher mathematics to a point where I really enjoy the subject and seek to tell all who will listen what I have learned.

    As a future Aerospace Engineer I am indebted to the works of people like yourself who offer such great knowledge so freely and lovingly for simply the sake of sharing that knowledge. I hope to one day be as great a blessing to someone else as you have been to myself and others. Thank you!!

    Sincerely,

    Keith Carter

    • Herb Gross said, on June 6, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Dear Keith,

      I am humbled by your very kind words. It is almost impossible for me to describe the feeling I have when I see material that I developed over 40 years ago now helping a new generation of students, many of whom had not yet been born when the material was developed. It may surprise you to know that my years at MIT producing the calculus series represents 5 of the 50 years I spent in the classroom. The rest of my career has been devote to helping adult “mathephobes” get over their fear of mathematics. At age 83 I am developing my own website (www.adjectivenounmath.com) where I am uploading all of my arithmetic and algebra videos, supplemented by power point presentations and other written material.

      I thank you and send you my very best wishes and I hope you will feel free to write to me at hgross3@comcast,net, especially if you ever feel that my input can be of help to you.

      • qed3086 said, on June 8, 2012 at 12:23 am

        I am truly honored to be even having this conversation with someone of your magnitude! I am glad to have found your content during this portion of my academic career and I will be doing my best to evangelize your material to anyone who will listen. I myself am an adult student (32 years old) who was a former “mathephobe” that has persevered and now enjoys the topic. I have already bookmarked your awesome website and look forward to its further development.

        In parting, I really have enjoyed “talking” with you Professor Gross, even at 83 your work ethic seems to precede you in that you are still actively engaged in your passion and therein is the most valuable lesson (to me) you teach younger people. Thank you a thousand times over and I wish you a great day!!

        Sincerely,

        Keith Carter

  6. qed3086 said, on June 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Reblogged this on F.I.F.I. and commented:
    Here is a awesome opportunity for anyone to view some of the best made Mathematics instructional material ever made!!! Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you M.I.T. / Bunker Hill professor, Herbert Gross!!!

  7. Roni Banan said, on July 9, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    Great lecture from a truly great Professor….thank you Sir Herb , to the Foundation and MIT…Long Live!!!

  8. Hashan Herath said, on August 15, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Dear sir,
    i’m a university student in sri lanka and it is my goal to become a mathematician.But since i’ve got there it seems to be little bit harder to understand such things because most of our lectures don’t know how teach things in simple manner.first course i elected was calculus and it was terrible until i watched your video lessons on the you tube.perhaps it might be the most valuble time that i’ve spent in youtube and i’m very thankful to you because it made things look less complicated and now i’m really ready for my examination.also sir you are the most wonderful lecturer that i’ve seen in my life.so clean and skilfull in lecturing……just wanted to say thank you very much…wish you good health sir and long live…….

    • Herb Gross said, on October 11, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks Hashan

      It always gives me great pleasure to know that my work has been of help to someone. In that respect I hope that my work helps you even more. Teaching has always been a joy for me and it is a wonderful feeling to know that my videos will continue to help people even when I am no longer here in person.

      I send you my very best wishes and invite you to write to me whenever you wish. My email address is hgross3@comcast.net

      • Hashan Herath said, on October 31, 2013 at 8:54 am

        thank you very much sir.

        i will definitely write you in near future and want say it is a much harder task to teach others what you know.also much appreciated.so i honestly think your blessed with the most wonderful ability which has been inspiring many students like us over the years.

        thank you again sir and long live….

      • Herb Gross said, on October 31, 2013 at 9:25 am

        Thank you once again for your extremely kind words. I feel fortunate to have been blessed with the gift of being able to teach others.

        I wish you the very best always.

  9. Hitarth said, on October 11, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Hello dear herb gross,

    I never came across a teacher a teacher like you. The way you teach is really wonderful. I love to watch your videos. It become clear by watchinj your videos that you really know maths as no one had ever known. I really love you. I wish you a very long life. And, you must know that you are a great man. Your work had inspired many and will inspire many more.

    But I always wanted to know that a great pesonality like you discovered something new in maths ? Because you are really outstanding MATHEMATICIAN.

    • Herb Gross said, on October 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

      Dear Hitarth,

      Thank you for the very kind words. I have always looked at teacher as a labor of love.

      I am not really a great mathematician but I have been blessed with the ability to transfer what I know to others. In terms of a sports analogy I do not consider myself to be a great math player( that is, researcher) but I do consider myself to be an excellent math coach (that is, instructor).

      However, whatever my gift might be I am very pleased to see that it is helping many others.

      I wish you the best and I think you once again for taking the time to comment.

      • David Pearce said, on October 11, 2013 at 2:58 pm

        Dear Prof. Gross,

        How nice to hear your words. In re: what you just said, I recall, I hope correctly, a famous Diana Ross & the Supremes album, and Carol Channing wrote the dust jacket notes. Her basic jist was, “As a singer, [I’m not great, but] I’m a great listener, and this new Ross album is fantatic!”

        I think that is similar to what you are saying.

        Anyway, I love the imperative case: Know I love you!; Know I’m glad you’re on the planet!

        I’m Jewish. I think you might be too, though I’m not certain. No matter. No disrespect either, I hope, but I think fondly of you as a real “New York type”, in accent, etc. My mother, Lorraine W. Pearce, the first Curator of the White, appointed in the Kennedy Administration, was born after all, on 178th Street in the Bronx, a product of High School of Music & Art, and City College. She is the scholarship behind the way the restored White House looks today. You and she are both from a very special generation, and I thank you foor your great work.

        Anyway, it must have been delicious for you, a real New Yorker, having such success in the hallowed halls of M.I.T. in Cambridge, Mass. I feel I’m sort of part of that serenditously.

        More power to you and thanks!

  10. Herb Gross said, on October 12, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for sharing this with me! I am Jewish and I marvel at the beauty of education. More specifically I have “e-friends” from around the world, including many from Islamic nations and we just talk about what my work has contributed toward their lives; nothing about religion and/or politics.

    Indeed I am amazed by how work I did over 40 years ago is still perceived as being vibrant by today’s viewers. When I made the series (1968 – 1973) there was no Internet and the series was intended as a review course for folks who had already taken calculus. When MIT’s OCW decided to upload my video courses a few years ago not just on the OCW site but also on YouTube and ITunes, was worried that the black-and-white-talking-head format of the early1970’s would not sit too well with today’s audiences. I feel blessed to have been wrong

    However what may surprise you is that my work at MIT was just a very pleasant aberration from the rest of my teaching career, which was spent at community colleges and prisons, teaching basic mathematics to mathematically at-risk adults until my retirement in 2003. I am now pursuing my “first love” by uploading all of my arithmetic and algebra materials on http://www.mathasasecondlanguage.com where anyone can cave access to all of my materials free of charge.

    My only direct connection with New York is that I spent ten years as the founding math department chair at Corning Community College (1958 – 1968) during which time I became the founding president of the New York State mathematics Association of Two year Colleges (NYSMATYC). Yet my life is similar to that of your mother in the sense that I am a first generation born American and spent the first 5 years of my life living within walking distance of Boston Harbor. I think your mother and I would have had much to talk about!

  11. Shafeeg said, on December 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    I am 21 Years Old and currently taking my calculus classes in Chinese which made it really hard to grasp the concepts since my Chinese standards is not good enough. I searched all over the web looking for videos books and papers but didn’t find something useful until I found your videos. These videos even though they are black and white, they have explained calculus so precisely. Sir, Your way of explaining is just awesome and the humour you brings now and then makes it not boring at all to watch your video the whole day. Thanks a lot for your efforts sir. Your works before 40 years is still GOLD and I think it will remain the same.

    • Herb Gross said, on December 10, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      Hi Shafeeg!

      Thank you for your very kind words. I feel very blessed that my work of 40 years ago has been resurrected and is now helping students, many of whom were not even born when I produced the videos. It was a labor of love for the entire 50years that I was in the classroom and I never felt I worked a day in the entire time.

      I send you my very best wishes and warmest regards.

      Herb

  12. David Pearce said, on December 11, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Dear Prof. Gross,

    I see another fan wrote you this evening, and I’m about to watch a few of your Calculus Revisited videos in iTunesU in a few minutes for mental stimulation and appreciation. Consider this your holiday card for 2013; You are appreciated by many people, of which I am happy to count myself one.

    I visited your site adjectivenounmath.com, and thank you! I did encounter some difficulties opening your Powerpoint presentations, but I am tenacious with things I like, so hopefully I will be able to get the information out of what you prepared.

    I’d like to ask you something completely tangential to math. Did you have a bicycle when you were a student, and / or a professor?

    I love bicycles, and have been building one for myself. Luckily, I have been building it out of parts, and not out of rocks, as the graduate student did in the wonderful book “The Toaster Project”.

    I find the blog “Off the Beaten Path”, authored by perhaps the greatest bicycle blogger in the world, Jan Heine, to be a very excellent website.

    It can be found at: http://janheine.wordpress.com .

    I’d be interested in knowing how you got around in your teaching days. I find myself very interested in bicycles, and also trains.

    Best wishes,

    David Pearce,
    Washington, D.C.

    • Herb Gross said, on December 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      Hi David,

      Strange as it may seem I never owned a bicycle. I grew up in the Boston area where there was always ample public transportation. So I got around by walking, using public transportation and/or on relatively few occasions I took a taxi cab.

      In fact I never owned a car or even learned to drive until I was 30 when I moved from Boston to Corning, NY.

      I never noticed that it was an inconvenience not to have a car until I got to Corning. Six months after I learned to drive, I began to forget how to walk :)

  13. David Pearce said, on December 11, 2013 at 1:29 am

    P.S.:

    “If you can read this sign, I’m too close to you!”

    — bumper sticker seen through the rear view mirror, on the FRONT bumper of an automobile!

    • Herb Gross said, on December 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      I like the rear bumper sticker that reads “I may be slow but I’m still ahead of you!”

      I often paraphrase this in explaining one meaning of 6/3 = 2. Namely, 6 says to 3 “I may be small but I’m still twice as big as you. It works even better in such cases as 0.01/0.001 = 10 where 0.01 says to 0.001 “I may be small but I’m still 10 times as big as you”. It takes the mystery out of why the quotient of two “small” numbers need not be small.

      And now you know the rest of the story :)

  14. Resuf said, on August 7, 2014 at 11:32 am

    sir the best thing in your teaching it doesn’t feel like studying a dry subject like MATHS it fells like storytelling . and trust me your humorous jokes makes the subject more interesting .

    • Herb Gross said, on November 2, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Thanks for your comment, Resuf. One of my very strong beliefs is that the difference between work and play is not the degree of difficulty but rather the degree of enjoyment. Too often people erroneously believe that if they are “having fun” in a course, they are not learning. Although one comment doesn’t represent a landslide victory for my belief, what you have written seems to validate it.

  15. P.sheshank said, on October 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Prof. Gross, I was looking for calculus lectures, and I found the black & white lectures of MIT, delivered by you. The first thing that comes to my mind is that, how carefully your lectures were at that time for future students. They are just outstanding, and the most important thing is that everything is pre-written on board and you are just explaining them, it just like a putting a soul(your voice) in a dead body (written material). I wish there must be a Nobel Prize for our great mathematicians like you, as without maths, without numbers, the world would be just anything , something or may be nothing. No measurements, means no physics. Hats off to you respected sir.
    P. Sheshank (+919855453080)

    • Herb Gross said, on November 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Thank you for your very kind words. Your comments gave me great pleasure and made me feel much younger than my 85 years. I am particularly happy that my course has been of help to you. And I send you my best wishes for fulfillment in all of your endeavors, both personal and professional!

      It took me several days to prewrite the boards in the sense that my first few drafts required more board space than I had available for me to use. There was no post editing in those days and as a result all of the videos were of the “delayed live” type. In other words, there were no corrections and it was as if the audience was seeing a live lecture on a delayed basis. There was a lot to concentrate on (I preferred the kind of setting that a TV anchor person uses so that each viewer would have the illusion that it was a private tutorial between me and him/her). So by prewriting the boards it was always easy for me to keep my place; and, given my style, it was a great way to keep me on task (in the sense that there was no space for me to do something completely extraneously). It also allowed me to use my time in the best possible way; in the sense that it takes a lot of real-time to write what you want the students to see (not to mention how horrible my handwriting is when I tend to write rapidly). You will notice that I did leave a little space so that I could make small asides (which hopefully kept the viewer from falling asleep)

      However the greatest thing about prewriting the boards was that it forced me to focus on the most important things. More specifically when I would write the scripts the first daft would require more board space than I had at my disposal (in those days, in a delayed live format, it was a no-no to erase boards when making a video because the boards never came out looking clean and it would add too much time onto the presentation to keep erasing and rewriting. The bottom line is that by the time I got to a draft that fit into the allotted space, it was relatively “slick” in the way it remained on task the entire time.

      The real beauty from my point of view was in the fact that as laborious as it might have been to prepare the presentation, once the presentation was videotaped it meant that I would never have to prepare that lecture again. From the viewers’ point of view, they could go view the lectures at their own pace. It is amazing how many students “fail” a course not because they weren’t capable of passing it but rather because they internalized the material at a slower rate than the lock-step pace of the traditional classroom.

      And the greatest reward that I got from this accomplishment is that 40 years later it is still helping viewers from around the world (at the time of this writing there have been over 90,000 views of my introductory lecture on complex variable posed on YouTube alone). In short, every viewer, at any location and in any point in time would see and hear exactly the same thing. It was as if the Internet cloned me! And hopefully this will continue to be the case even when I am no longer here.

      I apologize for such a lengthy, rambling response to your comment but it put me into the mood to share my reflections with you.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I send you my warmest regards.

  16. Gajendra Singh said, on November 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Respected Prof Herbert I Gross,
    Having done BSc(PHYSICS) Hons. now I am a Chartered Accountant (in USA they call CPA). But one thing always troubled me was the UNDERSTANDING of calculus. Passing examination or solving problems is quite different thing. Now I am 43 and certainly in different field. But calculus still haunted me.
    By chance I hit upon your videos at MIT site. Oh my God. What a logical and effective flow of mathematical thought it is. You are incredible sir. Now I feel fulfilled and so blessed because I understand calculus and strongly believe anyone can understand it by just watching your videos. you are R P Feynman of calculus. Had I watched it 20 years ago I would have been a scientist.
    Having watched your videos I looked for information about you on internet. but to my disappointment I could find a little that too on the very site I am writing on. I come to know you are 80+ now.
    But I know you by watching your videos which is so full of youthfulness and what a piece of clarity of thought and logical presentation of a dreadful subject called calculus. Professor Gross you tamed calculus. I wish you same youthfulness and energy for really long and long rest of your life. I have no words to express my thankfulness for your videos. I am overwhelmed . I have no doubt millions will feel the same.

    Heartiest regards
    Gajendra Singh

    • Herb Gross said, on November 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Dear Gajendra,

      Thank you for posting your comment. Comments such as yours give me a great deal of satisfaction . It is gratifying to see that even after more than 40 years my work is still helping others (You were just about a year old when I produced the calculus series in 1970).

      While most of my “fame” is due to the MIT calculus series, the major part of my career was devoted to helping mathematically at-risk adults overcome their “fear” of mathematics. In fact if you go to my own website (www.mathasasecondlanguage.com) you will see that I have uploaded all of my work in arithmetic and basic algebra (including videos, power points, exercise sets and their solutions, and even my own textbooks) for anyone to use free of charge.

      Please feel free to write to me directly at hgross3@comcast.net, especially if you should ever feel that my input might be of help to you.

      In the meantime I extend to you my best wishes and warmest regards.

      Herb


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