Review Comment

Probability and Statistics IEOR 4150

There are few professors at Columbia which every student I have talked to dislikes, at Mark Brown manages to be one of them. This class is not actually very difficult, nor does it move fast, so it is probably best for you to learn from the textbook (which isn't amazing but not horrible) rather than go to class. The best option is to read the textbook and then supplement it with class, but if you do go to class (like I did), you should, at minimum, skim the textbook, or you will be horribly lost. Professor Brown gives little context for what he is doing. He does not tell you what he is trying to prove (which makes following proofs difficult since you have no idea where he is headed) and he rarely explains the conceptual nuance of what is going on. He also spends almost all his time in class proving things whereas, apart from the Extra Credit on the final exam, every exam and homework question is an application question, which means understanding the proofs is of little to no help in tackling the homeworks or exams.

Apart from his inability to explain concepts, Mark Brown rarely pays attention to his students. He is 50/50 with being able to understand student questions, he rarely responds to email (and if he does, he is rude), and he doesn't return homework in a timely manner (we got a homework due in October returned on the last day of class).

Overall, the material covered in this class is not difficult, and there is not a lot of it either. Even though this was, by far, my lowest workload class, it was the one I complained about the most because going to class with Professor Brown is a truly painful experience. If you learn the material on your own, and make sure you understand the concepts behind what's going on, this class won't be a high workload, nor will it be hugely difficult. Professor Brown provides a fairly generous curve, but given that most people take this class because it is a pre-requisite for other things, I would recommend taking this with another professor so that you truly understand the material.

For sake of disclosure, I got an A+ in his class, so I think it is fair to say that my unfavorable review of Professor Brown is not due to my grade. He is the worst professor I have encountered at Columbia, and from what I hear, that Statistics department is fairly notorious for having bad professors.

Workload:

4 Homework Assignments. Yes, only 4. They aren't very long. (25%)
Midterm Exam. Very Easy (25%)
Final Exam. Moderate to Easy. Harder than Midterm. (50%)

May 13, 2006

Hogan, Michael
Probability and Statistics IEOR 4150

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

Very nice man, and he makes some funny jokes in class. However, this class is incredibly difficult. There are students of all ages, including graduate students. Every test I would walk out feeling like I've never bombed a test so badly. Nonetheless, he gives nothing lower than a B unless you do absolutely nothing. Going to class is a waste because it makes no sense. Might as well teach yourself from the textbook. This class is a requirement for a lot of people, but don't be prepared for a walk in the park. Very difficult material. All the tests are open-book though. Don't do what I did and not study because it's open-book. That will bite you in the ass. The first test is easiest so take advantage of it to raise you average. If I had studied the whole semester, I might not have had such a problem, but I only studied for the last midterm and final.

Workload:

Weekly Problem Sets (40%), two midterms and final (20% each, open book)

December 20, 2004

Wright, Larry
Probability and Statistics IEOR 4150

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

Larry Wright is OK as a lecturer, but his class is a wreck. No syllabus, no info on courseworks, nowhere to get information on what you're supposed to do and when you're supposed to do it, except through his messy last-minute emails, and no TA that I was aware of. All this would be fine if he was approachable, but he's snippy and barky and gets annoyed easily. And even all this would be OK if it wasn't for his barbaric grading policy - NO CURVE, and NO PARTIAL CREDIT. The material on the midterms was pretty easy, but make the most minute of mistakes, for which most teachers would take off 1 or 2 points, and watch your grade plummet by 15 points. Such is A. W. Wright, crusader against grade inflation.

Workload:

Pretty Light, but be prepared for the final or it'll bite you in the

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