Precalculus: introduction to algebra, geometry and trigonometry
Time: 10:00 - 12:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: CLAM07
Please choose a course date
Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)
What is the course about?
Get to grips with some of the maths you might have missed at school (or forgotten since). Essential for programmers, digital creatives and anyone considering further study in STEM subjects.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
“Precalculus” is the name written over the main entrance to the great garden of mathematics. Whether you’re interested in maths for finance, science, data analytics, coding, the arts or the purest abstractions, this gate is the first that most of us pass through.
A precalculus course is a transition between the arithmetic and basic algebra skills you already have and more advanced techniques you’ll need in the future. It aims to build a strong foundation of visual intuition and a sense of the unity of the subject.
It also takes a “grown-up” mathematical point of view from the beginning, making it easier to move on to more advanced subjects without having to un-learn anything. As a result, we will revisit some things you have probably seen before (e.g. graphs, solving equations) but in a new and more holistic setting.
The main parts of precalculus are:
• Algebra, which studies arithmetic in the abstract, as a system rather than a collection of rules.
• Analytic Geometry, which applies the techniques of algebra to the study of space and shape.
• Trigonometry, a special field that studies circular motion.
Our approach will follow the words of Sophie Germain: "Algebra is just written geometry and geometry is drawn algebra”. When confronted with a new idea in symbols, we will ask what it looks like; when dealing with a question in geometry we will do our best to express it in symbols so as to leverage the power of algebra.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Use the language of sets and functions.
• Apply the rules of algebra to solving problems.
• Identify, visualize and manipulate a range of function types including linear, polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic and trigonometric.
• Solve equations and understand your these solutions geometrically.
• Work with parametric systems of equations.
• Use online resources such as Wolfram Alpha and Geogebra to supplement pen-and-paper methods.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course but it will be very helpful to remember some things from school maths.
Before starting this course you should be able to:
Add, subtract, multiply and divide with whole numbers and fractions (without a calculator if the numbers are small);
Recognise a graph plotted on x- and y-axes;
Expand the brackets in an expression like (x + 2)(2x – 1)
Solve a linear equation, e.g. find x such that 3x + 4 = 25.
There will be an opportunity to rapidly review these topics at the start of the course but you should have seen them before.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The class uses a “flipped” approach in which you will be given material and exercises in advance, with class time mostly being used for discussion and problem-solving. You will therefore need to commit a couple of hours each week outside class to prepare for the next session.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No additional costs. All resources will be provided as part of the course.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Follow-up courses on linear algebra and calculus will be available for those who complete this course and want to take their studies further.
Rich is a programmer, writer and educator with a particular interest in creative practice. In his previous career he worked as a software developer in the CIty, first at a dot-com startup and later at a top-tier investment bank where he worked mostly on trading floor systems and got to play with a wide range of languages and technologies. He now teaches coding and maths-related courses full time. Besides his work at City Lit he also teaches at Central Saint Martins, the Architecture Association and the Photographer's Gallery and is the author of two books about mathematics. His technical collaborations with artists have been shown at, among others, the Hayward gallery, the V&A, the ICA and Camden Arts Centre. He has a BSc in Mathematics from the Open University. He also has a BA in English Literature and a PhD in philosophy (both from Cardiff). He continues to teach a little philosophy and literature, especially as they intersect with his other interests, and as a partner in Minimum Labyrinth he has brought these ideas to wider audiences in collaboration with the Museum of London, the Barbican and various private sponsors.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.