Review Comment

[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

January 04, 2015

Sethuraman, Jay
[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

I honestly don't understand the poor reviews of this professor. Perhaps he was not good at teaching other classes but, as far as the undergraduate version of Math Programming is concerned, he was one of the best teachers I have had.

Professor Sethuraman is very good and providing the conceptual/economic explanation for the math that you do in this class, and he goes to great lengths to ensure that you understand this base intuition. This is extremely valuable in a class that would otherwise seem to be a class where one blindly applies algorithms. Jay realizes that computers can do the ugly computations nowadays, and so, rather than spending time on 9x9 matrices, we only do small computation to get an idea for how a specific algorithm works, and then we spend lots of time discussing the underlying methodology of an algorithm, situation in which it might no work, and what certain states of the algorithm can tell us.

While Jay is not a ball of energy in the room, he has his own personality that makes class enjoyable, and he does a good job of raising interesting questions about the material that make you think about the nuances or corner cases of the algorithms.

Unlike most professors, Jay appears to understand his students. He can tell when his students are confused and is willing to repeat a concept or explain it in a different manner if students don't get it. He also understands student questions quite well, and welcomes them in lecture, which makes it easier to pay attention, and makes the material clearer. I think a great example of Jay's dedication to his students is the way he approached the final exam. In his office hours, Jay asked his students what they thought the best way to administer the final exam would be, given certain guidelines. While he originally was not going to allow a formula sheet, after he asked his student, he decided to allow a formula sheet in order to allow us to spend time studying the concepts rather than memorizing formulas. The fact that he took time to think about his students needs and discuss the exam structure with them speaks for itself.

Another example of how he understands his students: In one class, after students complained they couldn't see the board due to dying markers, Jay attempted to switch markers. Upon discovering that every marker was dying, he paused class and sprinted to his office to grab a new set to ensure that students in the back could see for the rest of lecture. There are many other examples of his dedication, but I'll leave them out for the sake of space.

Despite what I've said, this class isn't a walk in the park. It's not killer, but it's not a breeze. Even after paying attention in class and skimming the textbook, one might need to think about the homework questions for a bit (depending on the assignment), which is how I think it should be. His exams are fair, but are not easy. I would qualify them as moderate or moderately difficult. He will never pull something out of thin air. If you don't know how to solve a problem, you will at least walk out of the test knowing it was a fair question (this happened to many people on the final). His practice exams are fairly on par with the difficulty of his midterms, but the final is more difficult than the midterms, so it is important to understand the concepts underlying the algorithms. If you understand everything in your notes, you will be set for the final.

Long story short, if you actually pay attention in class instead of going on social media, and you put in a bit of time outside the classroom, you should be able to master this material. People who claimed that some final exam problems were unfair were, in my opinion, unjustified in their claims, since every problem came from concepts that were emphasized multiple times in his notes, lectures, and slides. Overall this is a great class, with a great professor. If you don't like this class, IEOR is probably not your jam.

Workload:

9 Homeworks. 3-4 hours each, occasionally 5. All fair. (1 equivalent total)
2 Midterms. (1 equivalent each)
Final (2 equivalents)
The top 4 equivalents constitute your grade. Curve seems to be a high B+, not 100% sure.

December 22, 2011

Chudnovsky, Maria
[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Mathematical Programming is conceptually easy, but the graders and TA's will take off a lot of points for mistakes. I actually enjoyed going to lectures except when we did proofs that were never seen again for the whole hour, which you can just read and understand on your own. Grades seem to be too subjective in the sense there are several ways to approach a problem so TA's are likely to give back points for regrade. The first average of the midterm was an 80, the second was a 90, and then final was an 80. Obviously the material is not difficult, but you have to work to keep up with the average.

Curve was nice:
final grade >= 96 ---> A+
90A
84.5A-
80B+
75.5B
69B-
65C
final gradeC-

Workload:

10 Problem Sets (20%) - Most easy and helpful
Midterm I (20%) - A little tricky
Midterm II (20%) - Very straightforward
Final (40%) - Cumulative, but focused more on LP formulation and second part of the semester's algorithms

January 09, 2011

Chudnovsky, Maria
[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Chudnovsky was a good professor. Not terribly exciting (she also taught this class at 9 AM), but in terms of transferring what she knew to your head, she was excellent. Her lectures were very organized, and had plenty of examples. Just make sure to get all of the general steps of each algorithm. Her midterms were ridiculously early though: the first one was after four lectures. She also doesn't appear to be the most approachable person.

Workload:

11 Problem Sets (10 required, 1 optional), no dropping lowest
2 midterms: 1st was very easy, 2nd covered more material but was still very manageable. Both in first half of class
Cumulative final, very manageable.

April 21, 2009

Chudnovsky, Maria
[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I completely agree with the above review.
The class as a whole is curved, and so even if you don't have those random points taken off here and there you still are not guaranteed a good grade. The average on the first midterm, two standard deviations above the average on the second midterm, and one standard deviation above the average on the final still resulted in a B- for the class.
Consider yourself warned.

May 08, 2007

Stein, Clifford
[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Okay, Cliff Stein is by far one of the clearest and most concise professors in the IEOR department. The formula for success in this class (and in Integer Programming) is simple: go to class, take notes, do the homework. After reading the other reviews for Stein, I can see that CLEARLY this is too much for a professor to ask of his students. Oh wait, aren't these the BARE minimum class expectations? Yea, that's what I thought.
It may be possible that Cliff just works better with a smaller class. For Integer Programming, we even had snack time. In any case, Stein's a great guy. He always responds to emails and is willing to talk to you during office hours. The head TA, Shiqian, is really helpful as well.

Workload:

challenging/long homeworks (don't start them the night before), pretty challenging midterm and final. you will do well if you go to class, take notes, and actually do the homeworks.

October 03, 2006

Stein, Clifford
[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

If I can describe Clifford Stein in one word, it would be asshole. He shows no respect for students, and assumes the worst out of all of them. The fact that he was willing to share that he single-handedly had 5 students expelled from Columbia for cheating was enough for me to know that he was a past nerd who is trying to instill a sense of revenge. I recieved back a few homeworks, and EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM is graded on a check, check plus, check minus scale, thus leaving you confused as to your final grade. If his intention was that homework was for learning, he wouldn't care what someone did on the homework.

On the other hand, he is prepared for class and does the examples and it is very easy to understand. However, he does all the examples COMPLETELY different from the textbook, leaving the student confused and in a sea of frustration.

Also, in class, he just goes silent when other students start to talk. He doesn't even accept if a student wants to ask the person next to him a question.

I would say don't take this class, but if you are in IEOR, you're pretty much forced to, so good luck.

Workload:

One problem set a week which is moderately difficult, two midterms, and one final.

November 30, 2003

Stein, Clifford
[IEOR E3608] Mathematical Programming

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

Professor Stein could just be a massive relief: after so many classes with professors who barely speak english, or who simply should never have entered the teaching profession, Stein is the kind of professor you would expect. Not spectacular, but certainly competent. Stein is quite prepared, and treats the teaching of the class seriously with extensive examples and preparation.
Stein personally seems to be annoyed with students. But you get the feeling that if you needed his help on a real academic question, he would answer; he did not take well to the usual bullshit students give professors, such as showing up late, homework nonsense and the like.

As for the course itself, mathematical programming is the study of optimization: you have an objective such as profit, subject to sets of constraints. Certain topics, such as the simplex method, are quite useful, but the course is about as immediately useful as the undergrad IEOR major in general (read, not). get a phd.

Workload:

Weekly problem sets, which can be long if you haven't done the reading. Weekly recitation sections are supposedly mandatory, but nonetheless completely useless. The exams are very much class-based.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming 2012 Fall / 0
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming 2012 Fall / 0
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming Maria Chudnovsky 2012 Fall TR / 11:40-12:55 PM 1
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming 2010 Fall F / 11:00-12:00 PM 0
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming 2010 Fall R / 7:00- 8:00 PM 0
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming Maria Chudnovsky 2010 Fall TR / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming 2009 Fall / 0
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming 2009 Fall / 0
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming Maria Chudnovsky 2009 Fall TR / 9:10-10:25 AM 1
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming Maria Chudnovsky 2008 Fall TR / 2:40- 3:55 PM 1
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming David Phillips 2007 Fall TR / 2:40- 3:55 PM 1
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming Clifford Stein 2004 Fall MW / 2:40- 3:55 PM 1
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming 2004 Fall T / 12:00- 2:00 PM 0
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming Clifford Stein 2003 Fall MW / 2:10- 3:25 PM 1
IEOR / IEOR IEOR IEOR E3608: Intro-Mathematical Programming Clifford Stein 2001 Fall MW / 11:00-12:15 PM 1