Bill Gates, a top Math student at Harvard entrance exams, recalled his first year Harvard “Math55” Course (Advanced Calculus & Linear Algebra) – the toughest at his time because 4 years of Math coursewares condensed into 1 year (2 semesters) !
Note: Harvard “Math55” is even tougher than the “notorious” French Classe Préparatoire, which is a 3-year Math undergraduate courseware squeezed in 2 years : 1st year (code-name “un-demi” or “1/2”) Mathématiques Supérieures; 2nd year (“trois-demi” or “3/2”) Mathématiques Spéciales.
Though Math 55 bore the official title “Honors Advanced Calculus and Linear Algebra”, advanced topics in complex analysis, point set topology, group theory, and/or differential geometry could be covered in depth at the discretion of the instructor, in addition to single and multivariable real analysis and abstract linear algebra. In 1970, for example, students studied the differential geometry of Banach manifolds in the second semester of Math 55.
Math55 Survivors :
Of those students who could handle the workload, some became math or physics professors, including members of the Harvard Math Department such as Benedict Gross and Joe Harris; also, Harvard physics professor Lisa Randall ’84 and Harvard economics professor Andrei Shleifer ’82.
In addition to these professors, past students of Math 55 include Bill Gates and Richard Stallman.
The Professors teaching Math55: include Siu Yum Tong 萧荫堂(China/HK).