Faculty Profile: Gilbert Strang

“My life is in teaching,” says one of MIT’s most revered professors. “To have a chance to do that with a world audience is just wonderful.”

By MIT OpenCourseWare

Portrait of Gilbert Strang

MIT mathematics professor Gilbert Strang was among the first MIT faculty members to publish a course on OpenCourseWare. He has continued to contribute content through the years: to date, his contributions have included six full courses, two video resources, and an online textbook on the OCW website.

He has also shared his knowledge and passion for mathematics in person, traveling extensively around the world. Open thinking has played a major role in his professional career. “A big part of my life is to open mathematics to students everywhere,” says Strang. “I’m very supportive of the whole idea of making these courses available to people around the world. Everyone has the capacity to learn mathematics, and if you can offer a little bit of guidance, the process of discovery is so valuable.”

Linear Algebra

The concepts in Strang’s foundational Linear Algebra course are useful in physics, economics and social sciences, natural sciences, computer sciences, and engineering. Due to its broad range of applications, it has long been one of the most popular courses on OCW. The 18.06 site has received more than 10 million visits since its first publication in 2002. Professor Strang has a website dedicated to his linear algebra teaching.

A new version was released in 2011, in the innovative OCW Scholar format designed for independent learners. The OCW Scholar version of Linear Algebra includes 35 lecture videos and 36 short (and highly-praised) problem-solving help videos by teaching assistants.

Matrix Methods in Data Analysis, Signal Processing, and Machine Learning

In 2017, Professor Strang launched a new undergraduate course at MIT: Matrix Methods in Data Analysis, Signal Processing, and Machine Learning. Published on the OCW site in 2019, the course uses linear algebra concepts for understanding and creating machine learning algorithms, especially as applied to deep learning and neural networks. This course reviews linear algebra with applications to probability and statistics and optimization—and above all a full explanation of deep learning.

MIT News Article: Gil Strang is Still Going Strong, Online and in Print

Calculus

Professor Strang has also published a collection of other materials on the OCW site including his Calculus textbook. First released in 1991 and still in print from Wellesley-Cambridge Press, the book is a useful resource for educators and independent learners alike. It is well organized, covers single variable and multivariable calculus in depth, and is rich with applications. The book has an online instructor’s manual and a student study guide.

When OCW approached Professor Strang about contributing to Highlights for High School, he offered his support immediately. “I’ve always wanted to contribute to K-12. I think high school students taking Algebra or Calculus would find some of the study materials useful.”

The result is Highlights of Calculus—a series of short videos that introduces the basics of calculus—how it works and why it is important. The intended audience is high school students, college students, or anyone who might need help understanding the subject.

The videos are garnering praise and thanks from viewers around the world. To quote one OCW user, “This series is fabulous! It summarizes the important points of calculus and gives me confidence to learn calculus without being so fearful about it.”

Differential Equations and Linear Algebra Textbook & Videos

Professor Strang has continued to offer new insights into key mathematics subjects. In 2014, he published Differential Equations and Linear Algebra. In 2016, that textbook was developed into a series of 55 short videos supported by MathWorks—with parallel videos about numerical solutions by Dr. Cleve Moler, the creator of MATLAB®. The textbook and video lectures help students in a basic Ordinary Differential Equations (ODE) course. This new series, Learn Differential Equations: Up Close with Gilbert Strang and Cleve Moler, is also available on the MathWorks website.

Higher-Level Mathematics

Computational Science and Engineering

Professor Strang also teaches two graduate-level courses on Computational Science and Engineering, a discipline that deals with the development and application of computational models and simulations. Both courses are on OCW and have full sets of lecture videos:

Wavelets, Filter Banks, and Applications

Another graduate-level course that Professor Strang has published on OCW is Wavelets, Filter Banks, and Applications, a subject with broad applications, including audio and image compression, digital communication, medical imaging, and scientific visualization.

OCW Publications by Prof. Gilbert Strang

All of Professor Strang’s books are available through Wellesley-Cambridge Press.

Professor Strang on Chalk Radio

Interested in learning about Professor Strang’s approach to teaching at MIT? Click to listen to his conversation with Dr. Sarah Hansen on Chalk Radio, the new podcast from OCW’s Educator initiative.

 

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