By Mitchell Harris
Professor Shabanov received his Ph.D. in theoretical and mathematical physics in 1988 at St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia. After some time doing research and teaching in Russia and then other countries in Europe, he came to the University of Florida. He continues to do research in theoretical physics while teaching math courses. The Princeton Review ranked him in the top 300 professors in the country.
His background in physics shines through his teaching, as most of his motivating questions are physical in nature. These thoughts motivate the mathematical theory, which is presented very clearly. He gives proofs of most of the fundamental ideas as to improve understanding and does plenty of pedagogical examples. He hardly ever makes a mistake while teaching that in any way distracts from the point. The explanations are clear and follow very similar arguments as in the textbook that he wrote for the calculus courses.
Office hours leading up to each assessment are crowded, but he makes himself available until he has successfully answered the questions of every student. He occasionally schedules additional review sessions where he fields even more questions. Quizzes and exams come almost directly from the assigned problems, but there is always a bonus question or two to entertain the most advanced students. Grading is extremely fair, as he reads through students’ work to give as much credit as possible, unless a large conceptual error was made.
Those unsure of their affinity for math will surely be clearly presented with what there is to like about the subject in order to make up their mind. The most advanced mathematics students will enjoy the rigor and challenge with which Shabanov supplements his course.
If this description of his classes didn’t help change your mind, then consider the reasons provided by the Facebook group creator, Salim Hyder, who created the group because he “had him for [Honors Calculus 3], and every student in the class fell in love with him and his style of teaching, [so] I thought it would be fitting to have some sort of Facebook tribute/appreciation for him.” The group provides several reasons for joining, adapted here:
1) He teaches undergraduate math and graduate level physics.
2) He uses the corkscrew rule.
3) He took graduate level math in 9th grade.
4) He makes jokes to get our adrenaline running.
5) He incorporates proofs into class.
6) He worries about bridges because our generation will be building them.
7) He has a cool accent.
8) He wrote a 400-page book called Hamiltonian Mechanics of Gauge Systems
9) He is awesome.
While some of these reasons are clear, you’ll have to take the class to understand the rest.