Introduction to Financial Engineering

May 2018

Professor Derman is an incredibly intelligent individual with an impressive background in Financial Engineering and a handful of models that bear his name. Attending his class constantly made me question how such a brilliant man could be such an inept instructor. His lectures almost exclusively consisted of him reading from the screen in front of him and underlining sentences on his slides. To worsen matters, his slides do not have appeared to have changed for the past several years and you will frequently see incorrect dates and other oddities as a consequence. A couple of times over the hour and fifteen minute class, Professor Derman will look up and answer any questions that may have arisen. His lecture style is unfathomably dry and even individuals who enjoy learning via lectures will find themselves hard pressed to remain fully awake. Personally, the value of attending class approached zero; it was easier for me to work through the slides at my own pace rather than have him read them to me. That said, Derman is personally a genuinely nice, caring, and friendly man who is easily approachable and happy to answer any questions you may have. I strongly recommend entering this class with a solid background in Stochastic Calculus and being prepared to spend vast amounts of time outside of class to learn the material.

Dec 2016

This is conceptually a very difficult class. You'll be one of a handful of undergrads in the class. Overall, the class is difficult, but grading is very good. He curves basically to an A-. Most of the class is spent deriving derivatives, proving Black Scholes, optimizing portfolio -- concepts that are fundamental to modern quantitative finance.

May 2012

You would expect that since Intro to FE is the most important class you will take as a Financial Engineering major and the IEOR department here is supposedly good, this would be a quality course. However, you leave this course with virtually no added knowledge of the subject matter and only knowledge of how to mechanically solve various problems on the homeworks and tests. Xuedong He is the worst professor I've ever had here at Columbia. Lectures consist of nothing more than him reading directly from the lecture slides in hard-to-understand English. There is absolutely no conceptual reinforcement by him and you are better off trying to read the lecture/book yourself than going to class. To all prospective FE majors, be warned. HW 20% MT 40% Final 40%

May 2011

I shall, henceforth, use 'He' and 'he' interchangeably. This class, combined with this instructor, makes for a complete disaster. Xuedong He is a nice man, and can be moderately helpful in his office hours. However, it is APPALLING, that an introductory class, to such a specialized field in a department that is apparently reputed for Financial Engineering, is taught by someone who has such DISMAL lecturing skills. He is nervous in front of the class, checks his watch every three minutes, and does nothing in class than mumble for an hour and fifteen twice a week. I would imagine he knows his material, but he does NOTHING to effectively convey it to the class. I may sound bitter; I am. I was excited about studying FE, but this class was a HUGE turn off. I might even switch out of the program. Because of the manner in which the material the presented, it seemed utterly boring and uninteresting. It was only while preparing for the exams that I actually started to enjoy some of it. His lecture notes are good, and so studying for exams or doing assignments can be done entirely by referring to them. If he ever happens to teach this class again, DO NOTtake it with him. If you are forced to, don't bother going to class.

May 2011

This guy is an absolute robot in class. His lectures are reading off the slides and occasionally providing very confusing proofs for simple concepts in his broken English. His slides are very logical and he is competent at not having too many typos in his slides/assignments/tests. His homeworks and exams are actually pretty enjoyable. In retrospect, I would've understood the material a lot more efficiently if I didn't attend lecture. Seriously. There is nothing to be gleamed from listening to him lecture that is not in the slides. The class figures this out about 1 week into class.

Dec 2003

This man definitely knows how to teach. He delivers the course material in a very straightforward yet thorough manner. I look forward to finishing up my degree with many more Sigman taught classes