professor
Levent Kockesen

Jan 2005

Whoever says that Levent is a bad lecturer does not have any idea about how hard it is to teach a conceptually difficult subject such as Game Theory. Despite this conceptual complexity, Levent did a pretty good job of explaining fundementals and their applications through different kinds of problems. It is true that you will not remember most of this stuff after one year. However, this is not the purpose of any econ class and especially of Game Theory. It just provides you with a strategic way of thinking on interesting problems. You only need to listen to Levent carefully during lectures and take good notes and you'll be fine in this class. Problem Sets may be challenging from time to time but the recitations are pretty helpful if you have the time. The mean on the midterm was something around 70s and thus there was a good curve. The final was slightly harder than the midterm. Levent posts practice exams before the final and the midterm and most of the actual problems are very similar to the practice problems. So, if you understand the practice problems you should be fine in the final and midterm.

Jan 2005

Solid lecturer. Much more approachable than he seems (I think the accent makes him come across tougher than he is). Hard problem sets that you need to have been in class to do. Midterm and final based on previous midterms and finals. Very generous curve at the end of the term. If you want to take miroecon, take it with him.

Jan 2005

The class was fairly straight-forward. Kockesen has been criticized for using too much math, but I think that he only used it as an additional way to explain something and did not rely on it unless it was necessary. He is from Turkey, as is belied by his accent, but it never became hard to understand him. Overall, if you go to class and take sufficient notes, you should not have too much trouble with this class. Some benefits that may only have happened my semester: he didn't make us buy the book (the homework was online), and the final was only an hour and a half, and was on the last day of class.

Jan 2005

Not a particularly bad class; not a particularly good class. Certainly, it will not be anything you remember after your graduate--if you can even remember it next semester. In any case, don't be fooled by the name, Game Theory is not fun. The problem sets and lectures are often quite tedious. Although, Prof. Kockesen did a fairly good job teaching the class and maintained a sense of humor, don't be surprised if you often find yourself drifting. The class is not particularly math intensive; however, all of the alphas, betas, and deltas may intimidate the math-phobic. A very basic understand of calculus is all that is needed at most. I am not going to give a scathing or a raving review. It is what it is: pretty mediocre.

Dec 2004

Okay, so I agree, he's not very exciting. I attended all of his lectures, and I took notes, which was both easy and tedious to do. However, his notes are incredibly thorough. Moreover, I think the problem sets would be impossible if you did not take notes. I opened the text maybe twice the entire semester, and found almost nothing helpful in it. But if you attend class and take notes, the problem sets are definitely do-able (I would say neither difficult nor easy). Additionally, the midterm was truly a joke. Whoever said that you will fail the midterm obviously spent no time whatsoever with the practice midterm exams. They were basically all that I and several of my friends studied, and we all got at or above the median, which was an incredibly high 86. As for the final, it certainly had a curve ball question, which I don't think anyone was expecting, but it was do-able if you reviewed ur notes (which I unfortunately did not spend much time doing). But he definitely intended to get people with that question to bring down the median on the final because it was obvious that a lot of people got away with high grades on the midterm just studying the practice exams. All in all, not a difficult course, but a tedious class to sit through. Nevertheless, I would recommend Prof. Kockesen over Prof. Elmes in you want the "easy way out." If you want a brutal workload and a lecture taught grad-school style, then go with Prof. Elmes.

Dec 2004

The people who lambasted Levent are completely wrong. The material is generally interesting, but like any class there are some slow days. Levent is clear, and the most difficult part of the class is the complex algebra used in many of the problems. The math skills required are not advanced, but problems get very involved. The textbook is worthless, and Levent's lecture notes are minimally helpful. But if you go to class and take careful notes and pay attention to the examples he presents, the class is NOT hard. I think the whiners probably got seduced by the "Beautiful Mind" version of game theory--easy analogies that are not representative of a very rigorous discipline. The problem sets are involved, but not difficult at all because they are all variations on examples he does in class. The midterms and finals don't really vary from year to year. If you study the tests from previous years (and he makes available tests from 1999 forward), you will be adequately prepared. The tests are graded VERY harshly, but if you know the material, all you have to worry about is not making a mathematical error. Most people that I've talked to lost most of their points through algebraic errors, misplaced negatives, etc. Recitation is useless.

Dec 2004

I really enjoyed this class, and thought that Kockesen was one of the better professors I've had at Columbia. He is not a particularly engaging guy, but keeps his lectures interesting,,, while also clear and concise. I learned a lot at the lectures, but he doesn't use the book at all in his teaching, or on the tests or problem sets, so it is pretty difficult if you don't go to class. He has a pretty mathematical approach to economics, so if you aren't a math person the class may pretty difficult. You need a solid handle on calculus. The only thing that disappointed me was that he didn't include as much game theory as I thought he would, especially considering that the other class he teaches is game theory. However, I think that my semester had less than most, because we didn't have any game theory on our final, but it showed up on a few of practice finals that he posted.

Dec 2004

Game theory is a pretty cut and dry subject, Levent is a pretty uninspired lecturer. Put them together and you have a boring class. That being said I did not mind the class so much. You could pick up everything you needed to know from the lecture notes he posted online so you never need to go to class which is a plus. The class is very mathmatical, which should be obvious, but some people in the class had a lot of trouble with basic math. If you are an econ-math major, or just good at math you should find the midterms and final very easy.

Dec 2004

Levent is a solid professor. His lectures are straight forward, comprehensive and easy to follow. Certainly not the most interesting of classes, but given that its an entry level econ class, you can't really complain. There was no textbook for the course, which was occasionally frustrating - but it forced one to pay attention in class. Overall, a good class/professor. Recommended.

Dec 2004

Levent is a nice guy; sometimes it is difficult to understand his accent but his lectures are understandable in general. I never went to recitation but did okay in the class. He's a fair and firm grader.

Dec 2004

Although the subject itself is fairly interesting, Kockesen completely ruined it with his complicated and depressing lectures. Although he provides lecture notes, they are extremely notation- oriented, boring, and confusing (just like himself). At one point of time, he even admitted himself that he didn't know what his lecture notes were talking about!! I tried to attend most of the class, hoping that at least the class notes will me to understand the material. Unfortunately, I was totally WRONG! He not only puts you to sleep in class, his problem sets are so long and difficult that you just want to stare at it and cry. He always tries to "challenge" the students by teaching the most complicated and unnecessary stuff. When I showed my TAs, they said that's what they are learning in grad school! ... I was lucky that my TA was very clear and helpful, it turned out that I learned a lot more from the recitation than the lecture class. If you must take this class, just pray that you'll get a good TA...

Nov 2004

So boring, so boring. you CANNOT imagine how boring it is. Bad lecturer, horrible lessons, -->Semester has not even ended, and I have decided that I will not attend class anymore! Lecture's a waste of time, AND you would not understand it even if you attend. I rather study the homework and the answer sheet for the final. I hate him so much! I was excited about game theory, but Kockesen has destroyed every last bit of interest in me.

Apr 2004

So boring it was depressing and tiresome even to think about going to class. Nevertheless, I attended the majority of the lectures (I'm a masochist) and was delivered about the same result every time: a professor who was unanimated, uninteresting, and completely obsessed with the mathematical approach to everything. The class would probably be great for someone who is very math oriented, but otherwise, you're in trouble.

May 2003

This is not a bad class for microeconomics overall. Kockesen is a relatively clear lecturer; it took me a little while to get used to his style, but eventually you realize that he presents the material as logically as possible. The textbook is never used, and the homework can be a little tricky but is not too bad. The Midterm was a bit more difficult than the final. The mean for the midterm was in the 50's; the final mean must have been higher. There's a pretty generous curve at the end. If you are a good economics student you should not have trouble getting an A or even A+.

Jan 2003

This class should be a breeze. Most of the material covered in the first several weeks of the class took a matter of hours in Intermediate Micro. There are _no_ difficult concepts or math in the entire class. The most difficult part of the class is making sure that your work is absolutely impeccable. Since getting the right answer is quite simple (duh... which number is bigger?), the TAs take red pens to problem sets and exams like somebody declared jihad on the students' answers. And jihad it is, since alternative methods for solving problems are met with comments such as "This works, but is not the proper way." That is, notation is valued more highly than attaining the correct answer. Kockesen is a reasonably good lecturer--he speaks clearly (in his perfect Russian accent) and has a good sense of humor, but his lectures tend to be long-winded and boring. Due to this, a large portion of the class tended to skip. One more thing: you won't learn much new in this class--it's all common sense, and most of it could be learned in a matter of hours in front of a book (and for most of the class, it was!). Grading is rather arbitrary; a stray pencil mark on an exam could drop you down a standard deviation. But follow the process given for solving each problem _to_the_letter,_ and you'll do fine.

Jan 2003

A killer. You're either born for it or not. For some it was very easy, and for everyone else...they were lost. And don't think that if you can do math that you can do this. Maybe it was hard because the lectures are very dry and long winded(Kockesen didn't give us the overall gist before delving into all the notation of a new topic), and so it's easy to doze off or space out. But then those who didn't come to lecture seemed to do the best. There is not main text book, so every one is clueless on the homeworks until they go to recitation. Half the class dropped out after the midterm.

Dec 2002

This was a great course. The professor is very clear, though he does move fairly quickly. I would not characterize any of the work as easy, but it is not excessive. There was no required textbook, as he posts his own pdf notes. He's very responsive to questions, and is definitely into the topic. Didn't give off for Yom Kippur - I didn't even think about it until after I missed the lecture. Oh well.

Dec 2002

This guy sure loves his game theory. Expect a ton of that following a mad rush through the actual main part of Microeconomics. Overall, it's not a bad class--he's pretty clear about most stuff andclearly answers all student ?s, but he goes fast and zips through some hella complex algebra. It can be a rush to keep up. His exams are hard as hell, but there is a nice curve at the end for your final grades.

Jul 2002

I can't believe people said this guy is a good teacher. This guy is HORRIBLE. He's boring, goes too fast for people to keep up, and takes too much of a mathematical approach to everything. He makes simple concepts more complicated than they really are. Most people have to rely on the TA sections (which are quite good) for understanding of the material. The midterm is very difficult and the final is pretty easy. All things considered, I recommend taking this class with someone else.

Apr 2002

Levent is a great lecturer. He's bluntly hilarious and gives examples involving beer and makes jokes about "kinky preference curves". I love this man! Lectures are easy to understand and grading is decent.. THe secret to doing well on the problem sets is to go to office hours (preferably the one with the TA who does the grading). TAs are very helpful and attending lectures is never a burden. = ) Only complaint is that he never lets out early, but otherwise this is a very enjoyable class.

Mar 2002

Levent is extreamly calculus oriented. He explains every concept or theory with calc proofs and spends little time clarifying any of them. Attendance of recitations are needed if you have any hope of recieving full credit on the problem sets because the text book doesn't help at all. So all in all, he's a good prof, but make sure you have a stong background in calc.