course
SIEO 4150

May 2015

Chris can't teach for his life. Yes, the course was pretty easy. Yes, the exams were very much like the review sheet, but I can't really say that I learned statistics in the process. Chris stops regularly to ask if people have questions and encourages student participation, but he always seems exasperated. On the first day of class, he said to us: "when you raise your hand and ask a question or make a comment, make sure to tell me your name so I can judge you when you say something stupid." I have a pretty strong math background - I've done well in both Calculus and Chemistry thus far in college. But, for some reason, it is very difficult to understand the material when Chris lectures. I think the problem is that he doesn't provide an overview or even say what topic we're covering, he'll just write some numbers on the board and forget to say which test statistic it is, what formula we're using, what assumptions we're making, and the general purpose of the test. If you have to take statistics, I'd choose a professor who uses a powerpoint. At least the lectures would be somewhat standardized...If you're a Barnard student, take psych stats for goodness sakes. I thought regular stats would be fine, but it's honestly just been a hassle...

Jan 2015

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.

Jan 2008

People hate on Wright too much. I mean, yes, I had a tough time sitting through the lectures for this class. And yes, it sucks to get all your homework assignments in the form of all-caps Courseworks emails that you can't find anywhere else. But, I mean, whatever, the lectures are pretty thorough, the homework is remarkably comprehensive, and he puts the effort in. I don't know about these curve rumors... I had a D average or something and got a B in the course.

Dec 2006

Professor Wright makes Stat interesting because he loves himself to the point that his real-world examples of stat devolve into stories about how awesome he is. You'll hear all about his two businesses and his house in Greece and his awesome apartment and how his other professorship at the University of Arizona is great in the sense that they have better classrooms but not so much in that the students aren't as bright as those at Columbia. And on and on and on. Stat is boring, but listening to this guy ramble makes it funny and sometimes actually teaches you something about it. The book isn't very good because it was clearly thrown together to make people buy a new edition with almost no new material. But the class really isn't bad if you follow along and learn the procedures for solving the problems he gives you. Some of the probability and the stat analysis is challenging, but putting in a little work makes this class pretty manageable. Grading is not particularly inflated because it doesn't need to be.

Jan 2006

He's fairly boring but he explains the material very comprehensively. If you attend class, the homeworks aren't difficult and you likely will not have to refer to the textbook. Classes are fairly dense, as he covers a good portion of the textbook. Exams are very fair; he gives problems that are exactly like what he has been teaching. However, there is virtually no partial credit, unless for arithmetic errors. He allows notes and a calculator, but it is no longer open book. I don't think there is formally is a curve, but he is very fair in giving out grades.

Sep 2005

Good class, but very, very challenging. It's billed as a Introduction, and it is, but it's very in-depth. The first few weeks of the class are deceptively simple, after that it ramps up quite a bit. de la Pena isn't interested in just having you apply statistics, he wants you to understand it deeply. As such, the class is proof heavy and requires a lot of time outside class to comprehend the material. Luckily, de la Pena is very approachable, and seems to want students to succeed. He will help you understand. All in all, a very good class, but well beyond the needs of many students.

May 2005

One of the worst teachers I've had at Columbia. The course isn't too hard though. You can learn it mostly out of the book. All exams are open book. One of them is take home. He curves very nicely. But, like I said, he can't really teach, and usually just confuses people when he talks. I didn't go to class the second half of the semester, because I simply couldn't stand his lectures. The solutions that he posts for homeworks are horrible. They don't give any inkling as to what's going on in the problem. He also communicates very poorly about when the tests are, when the homework is due, etc. And, he's kind of incometent with courseworks, so some handouts he gives in class get posted but others do not. If you want to enjoy probability, don't take this course. But if you're looking more to slack off and just get through it, this is probably the one to take.

Apr 2005

I learned a lot in here - which is good, because it will haunt all throughout the IEOR classes if you don't. Some people complain that notes are worthless to take. That is pretty closedminded to complain about. Rather, it's a fact. One will learn a lot more in this class if they just take the time to put down their pen and listen. The book was elementary enough to bring it all together for you when you did the homeworks. Too many people are worried about taking notes that they will never look at again rather than sitting in a lecture and trying to understand the concepts being presented. The lack of Courseworks was annoying, though. Not a bad professor, not the best, but I'm glad I took this class with him.

Jan 2005

I took his class because i thought his lecture was fairly understandable and his first quiz was easy. i got a 100 on it without much study, however, after the drop date is passed, the materials got a lot harder, and i would say it is simply unmanagable. and since it is already towards the end, u can't do much about it, so i ended up having a very very hard time in that class, so ppl who take this class have to be warned, the beginning of the class is fairly easy, but towards the second half, it is going to be a lot of theoretical proofs of the statistical theory which is not similar to anything you have ever learned in mathematics. he requires a lot of understanding of the thoeries and a lot of proofs which you can't even fit half of them on a piece of cheat sheet......so watch out!!!!

Jan 2005

A lot of people are really hard on Professor Wright. He is not the world's best lecturer but he is not terrible either. When listening to his lectures, you will hear a lot of stories about some of the projects that he did as a professional statistician. He teaches right from the book, so if you don't get anything, it is right there in the text. I thought that the lectures in the beginning were a lot better than the ones at the end, partly because of the material though. Also, a lot of people complain abou this grading process. It is really not bad. He doesn't give much partial credit for conceptual errors on the exams, but they are OPEN BOOK, and you also get two cheat sheets. Many of the problems are right from the book with book examples that mimic the problems almost exactly. If you have conceptual errors with the book in front of you, then you can't really complain too much about partial credit. Also, his lack of a curve is not really a bad thing. All you need to do is get an average of 85% and you have an A. There are no pluses or minuses, so there's no getting screwed by arbitrary grading. Going into the final, I knew eactly how many points I needed to get an A in the class. It is a lot better than the classes where you have a good grade, and then the class has a ridiculous average on the final and you end up getting a grade a lot worse than expected.

Jan 2005

I agree with the people who said that Professor Wright was lazy/disorganized/boring. He claimed that he used questions from the book and made the exam open book to save paper. I certainly am not complaining about the open book policy, but I would be quite naive to believe that he was concerned with saving paper. He was definitely lazy; he was the only math/science professor in my three semesters to never set up his class on CourseWorks and/or post information on a personal website. Sending out information by e-mail is fine I suppose, but it seems like something my CC professor would do. For someone in the IEOR department, he is the epitome of inefficient. He is counter-optimization: he would hand out homework by calling out each person's name, one-by-one, in a class of 100 students or so---a complete waste of 10 minutes. But then again, you don't really want to watch him copy proofs from his notes onto the board (which were readily accessible to the students in the class via the book and also pointless given that he provided no insight about the proofs and never asked anything like that on exams). Watching him write on the board is hard because he is incredibly disorganized. Taking notes is almost always a waste of time. He likes to write pointless things on the board, such as "Election" or "Red Sox" or the batting averages of 3 baseball players--stuff that really doesn't need to be written down on the board or just does not matter. Anyways, he's still kinda funny, and I think he makes up a lot of stories (stories that are meant to be relevant to the discussion but never are). All in all, you'd be better of not going to class. He stressed the importance of moment-generating functions for several lectures and insisted that he'd asked something about them on the final exam, but as expected, he never did. The lack of partial credit is pretty weak, but you should just be sure to avoid careless mistakes. The lack of a curve is not problematic because the class really is pretty easy. One recommendation: try to get a solution's manual for the book. And one more thing, De La Pena is probably a better professor, but Wright is definitely far easier.

Jan 2005

Larry Wright is the worst professor I have had at Columbia. It was a bad sign when there existed no syllabus, and it got worse from there. The lectures were awful; solely comprised of his rambling on and on for pages and pages, briefly punctuated by absolutely random non-sequitur jokes and anecdotes. On top of that, he is simply not a nice person. Outside of class, he is entirely unapproachable and is rude and snippy with many of his students. Office hours were a farce, as the outside door leading to his office is perpetually locked, and he was fully aware of this fact. His "TA" Rouba, was virtually nonexistent. He is also very lazy, demonstrated by two things: the majority of the questions on his exams were from the book, Also, he is a statistician, and refused to construct exam-by-exam curves. He decided to use a strange system by which 85+is an A, 75-85 is a B, and 65-75 is a C. Further, his system of no partial credit is definitely harsh, he docks 10-15 points at the drop of a hat, which makes it pretty tough to get the A. He also doesn't award plusses or minuses, so it's either a straight up A or a straight B. However, to be fair, I definitely learned a lot about probability and statistics, and I developed a lot of appreciation for the field and understood how to look at data in a totally different light. This knowledge was absolutley no result of the effort of this professor, but was through reading the book, which was a pretty good text. The class was very useful, the professor was worthless, and it wasn't especially difficult. Take this class, but do so with a different professor, you'll learn the same stuff and probably have a better experience.

Dec 2003

The fact that this guy is still teaching makes me doubt the sincerity with which Columbia reviews teacher evaluations. Jan Vecer teaches straight out of the book, gives homework out of the book, and tests on something totally different. In my opinion, he honestly believes that either you get it or you don't and if you don't understand the material you shouldn't be in the class (kind of defeats the purpose of teaching...). Unless you have a very good understanding of prob. stats, avoid this class.

Oct 2003

Out of the 25+ professors I have had, Professor Vecer is absolutely the WORST professor I have ever had. First, the syllabus he provides is so ambiguous (he states that we will cover each topic in the textbook). Secondly, his teaching style is not helpful at all. He quickly covers each topic providing a few very easy examples (which always seem to involve dice) and then excepts you to be a professional statician for the exams. His antipathetic nature towards his students deserves no approbation. I believe a professor like Jan Vecer should not be allowed to teach since his whole attention is focused on his research probably. He has no place being in a classroom. How does he keep his job? If you really want to learn statistics and be tested on your knowledge, I would recommend NOT taking this class . . . the exams do not test your knowledge of what you learned. You can study the book from page one till the end and do all the questions and still manage to fail the course!! Please, please, if not for yourself, but for me, do not take this class.

Dec 2002

I don't know if he's really the worst professor ever. (Maybe it's just that I had him the same semester as the professor who is really the worst ever, so he seemed better by comparison.) He certainly seemed inexperienced. The whole structure of the class was very disorganized. He kept switching around the specifics of the grading and assignments. He taught totally from the book, so going to class was more or less optional. If you did choose to go, he did his best to answer questions (his English is more than adequate, by the way). The most frustrating part was his inability to manage time over the course of the semester. We went way too slowly at the beginning and had to skip some important material at the end. If he actually took the time to prepare lectures that did not involve teaching every word of the book, he might be a decent professor. He's certainly not a bad guy either way (sort of oddly funny), so there's a decent change he'll be better next time around. Right now, though, he's certainly mediocre at best.

Dec 2002

Vecer is the worst teacher ever in Columbia. He teaches directly out of the book but then he gives exams that are out of this world. Don't ever take this guy. He is so bad and lazy. The worst thing about him is that he changed the syllabus everyday. Is it fair to entirely change the syllabus after you decide to take the class because of the syllabus. Honestly, Vecer is the worst teacher and the most superficial Professor at Columbia. STAY AWAY. STAY AWAY. STAY AWAY.