David Kipping

May 2019

This class is listed "for non-science majors," and has a 1 page syllabus. Do not be fooled. Without a doubt the most subjective, cruelest, harshest, unnecessary grading I've ever experienced at Columbia (and I've had an otherwise perfect grading background here). What's more, his lecture material is shoddily compiled, brimming with typos and inconsistencies, and because of this, the material he posts on Courseworks literally has no effect on your comprehension. You either follow his lectures the first time around, precisely, or you'll fall behind. I learned the majority of the material online, without him. Do yourself a favor and don't put yourself through this.

May 2019

Where do I begin? This course has so much potential to be interesting. It surveys a broad range of material, and could very easily be clearly presented to non-STEM majors (which is kind of the point of courses like this). The subjects are very interesting; from computing surface gravity of a planet to detecting exoplanets and exomoons, without getting too lost in the weeds of the underlying physics. The professor, however, made this course difficult, for reasons unrelated to astronomy. Prof. Kipping's lectures consisted *entirely* of slideshow presentations, with poorly drawn diagrams that only served to obscure concepts that could've been drawn on the chalkboard in five seconds with far greater explanatory force. What's more, in the slides containing fundamental equations, prof. Kipping typed the equations in Arial font, instead of using a LaTeX compiler or the appropriate formula insert on MS Word. I realize this sounds nitpicky, but trying to parse an equation like: "F=2R_vGM_cM_v/d^3" is pretty annoying to say the least. I ended up having to look up most of the equations on astronomy websites. Perhaps the most unsettling part of the class was the opportunity for extra credit that prof. Kipping mentioned more than once over the course of the semester. On the last day of class, it was revealed that the extra credit opportunity would only be offered to five randomly-selected students out of a class of 45. The class roster was entered into a Mathematica "random name selector", and those lucky few who were selected got to play a "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" themed astronomy quiz game. The not-insignificant prizes ranged from '+1 homework point' to '{student} is exempted from taking the final exam'. Essentially this boiled down to a majority 8/9 of the class being put at a disadvantage (entirely imposed by prof. Kipping), as we were never given ANY opportunity for extra credit.

Nov 2018

I took this class last Spring 2018 semester. It had a lot of interesting lectures and was overall an interesting course. BUT, the homeworks were ridiculously difficult compared to what we learned in class. Professor Kipping is really nice and helpful during office hours but often, the homeworks and exams were really frustrating because there was a missing piece in information that we just didn't learn that we were expected to just be able to figure out.

Jan 2018

Project based course in which you will learn implementing statistics in Python. For every other project you need to prepare for a 3 minute presentation which is good practice for future talks. This class doesn't have astronomy/physics prerequisites and in fact Professor Kipping says himself that this course will give you good preparation for both academic and industry. Take this class if you want to get an introduction to data processing with a science background. Final project require a pretty substantial report which takes time. This class will be much easier if you know Python. The statistics are straightforward and Kipping is a good lecturer.