professor
Robert Holliday

May 2021

I took both discrete math and computer science theory with him. He's the best. An awesome professor. I'm going to graduate this year and after experiencing a ton of CS professors, the previous reviewer has to be kidding me. I hope Columbia continues to bring him back. He's WAY better than the regular professor who teaches Discrete *coughs* Ansaf *coughs*. I've taken a class with Ansaf and it's truly my worst Columbia experience. The previous reviewer seems to have an issue because Robert mainly teaches at a small college (he sounds elitist to me). LOL great researchers does not mean great teachers. Robert is actually one of the best professors I've had at Columbia. He posts lectures beforehand to accommodate those in different timezones (since at that time in 2020 recordings took 24 hours to be posted instead of right away like now in 2021), and also to allow students have a head start on the HW since the summer schedule is condensed. He's available during office hours and the TAs were great. He even accommodated students during the exams for those in different time zones. His grading was generous, AND his teaching was great. He definitely does NOT just read off the notes. The notes are literally him minimizing the students' work: instead of having students take notes during class, he provides enough notes that lets you just focus on the lecture, and then use the notes to study for the exams or a guide for the hw. He also fixed the typos of the notes and re-uploaded them :/ Like really the previous reviewer just comes off as an elitist and everything he said was wrong. His lectures were sufficient enough that I did not have to resort to the textbook or any other online resource, which says a lot, and I am by no means a math genius. Take him.

Jul 2020

For context, I took this class during the summer of 2020 where the semester was purely online. To put it simply, it is a disgrace that this low-level, incompetent professor is allowed to teach at Columbia (his usual position is at Lake Forest College). The first session of the semester is the only time any student had any real class contact with him, the rest were videos that he posted. He would post notes, and in his "lectures" he would simply read out loud the notes. As the usual Columbia student, I can read, so to have the notes in the audio version is definitely not needed. However, since this awful professor clearly did not even write his own notes, they were copy and pasted from somewhere, they were so riddled with typos and errors, that it was un-understandable to simply read the notes. You had to watch him narrate on lecture simply for him to correct the typos in his notes. This Professor barely knew what he was doing, he would be reading out loud some proof that he copy and pasted from online, and it was clear he could not follow what was going on, but I respect his perseverance and he managed to read out loud the rest of the proof while explaining absolutely nothing. It is a shame that Columbia continues to employ him. He makes a bad mark on Columbia's image. To make students pay money for this is truly a crime.

Sep 2015

Fantastic professor. He was extremely clear throughout every lecture, and took time after every lecture to answer every question you have, even if that means reviewing what he went over in class. If you're taking CS courses in the summer, definitely consider this one to knock out your requirements. The problem sets didn't take too long, and as for the midterm and final, he gives out a study guide that will indicate pretty much what *exactly* will be on them. The workload is very, very light, and the exams are very fair if you use the study guides he provides. Honestly, you can spend very little time preparing outside of class for the exams if you pay attention in class and sometimes stay after class to ask questions because he's that clear (some will say slow-paced, but the concepts are very well-elucidated). He largely covers the textbook, but I never found myself really needing to turn to it.

Aug 2014

This review is for the summer session Discrete Math class with prof. Robert Holliday. He only teaches in the summer, and apparently he has been teaching at Columbia for many years. He seemed really nice in the beginning, but that turned around quickly. He doesn't care about the students actual learning the material; every lecture felt rushed. The homeworks were very long. However, they made up mere 20% of the final grade. I thought it was unfair given the amount of work you had to put in in them. The midterm was very easy, too easy, I'd say. He gave us a study guide and said that what wasn't on the study guide would not be on the exam. That wasn't true: one problem asked to use a formula that didn't appear on the study guide. The final was much harder than the midterm. It seemed that he made it so intentionally to force a better grade distribution. If he's the only option for the summer, don't take it. Just take the regular class in the fall or spring.