Really great and highly invested professors. Prof Jones and WIggins are very funny when they're together. This class is also super interesting, I learned so much about the evolution of data practices and have questioned a lot about the ethics of data today. I learned some stuff about ways to code about data but was normally confused with the coding homeworks. I highly recommend this class if you're interested in technology, algorithms, data and the ethical practices involved. If you don't like tech or have no interest in data, you will be lost. The readings can be dense but overall very interesting. If you have absolutely zero coding background then it will be hard to do the coding homeworks because they start out very fast. I think the topics we studied in this class are important for the future of how we look at data and Prof Wiggins and Prof Jones really want us to think about the ways our world is evolving.
I took Professor Wiggins seminar last fall semester. There has been negative comments about him, but I did not find him insulting at all. Most of the seniors’ presentation went smoothly and he was willing to listen and ask questions to the presenters to make sure he was understanding their topics. I barely skipped his class and I did not see him being condescending to the students. In my case, I do not think I had enough time to prepare for my presentation and I frankly told him that I was baffled and lost on how to begin my presentation. He took me seriously and spent hours generously helping me to finish my presentation. So if anyone has to take the seminar course, don’t hesitate to ask him for help. I found him truly helpful. Each student has to present their own topic for 75 minutes and I do admit that the presentation is long, but all you have to do is chillax during class. It is worth getting to know the professor and the students who have a same major as you. You get to know what others would be doing with the major once they graduate.
Originally posted in December 2015: For juniors and seniors studying applied math, the seminar provides an opportunity to learn directly from both outside speakers and peers on various topics in applied math. Seniors have to prepare a 75 minute presentation on a topic to share with the rest of the class. Professor Wiggins is very helpful in assisting with the presentation, and he provides guidance on how to best approach your topic (both qualitatively and quantitatively, as he will assist with both outlining your talk and also will help you better research your topic). The key is to pick a topic that you are passionate about and would like to spend time researching and learning about on your own. I found that I not only enjoyed researching my topic, but also that it bridged connections between various applied math courses (whereas courses may not directly build on each other, it was interesting to see the connections between them in a single application). Many presentations also draw on results from the last hundred years (if not more recently) and this is also an exciting complement to other courses. Reflecting on the seminar, I can say it has been a great experience in terms of being able to connect with applied math students and also learning about the numerous ways applied math affects daily life (in many cases, in ways you wouldn’t have known existed before taking the seminar).
The review from January 27, 2012 is spot on about Wiggins as a person. I would even go a step further and say that his behavior around students is completely unprofessional and often insulting. Furthermore, I found his seminar to be a pathetic excuse for a course and I think requiring it is a complete waste. The entire “course” is centered around presentations, most of which are given by the seniors in the course. Each senior is responsible for one 75-minute presentation of a topic of their choice, and that’s basically the entire course. When you are not presenting you are expected to show up and watch the other presentations (or play around on Facebook) and perhaps ask a few brown-nosing questions to the presenter if you are in that kind of mood. He also invites in several of his own presenters, and this seems like mostly self-promotion on his part. They all seem to go out of their way to mention what a mentor Wiggins was to them when they were students at Columbia, or something absurd along those lines. Most of the presentations were very boring, and I can honestly say I have never been in a classroom with so many students on Facebook during class. Wiggins spends the entirety of most lectures sitting in the back of the room and typing emails on his phone. He will often look up and attack the presenter with questions in a rather adversarial manner. He seems to go out of his way to nitpick and tear you apart for not following his (often unwritten) rules, and he does not do this in a constructive way at all. I really don’t know how I was supposed to benefit from this class in any way. It honesty seems like this is Wiggins’ way of dealing with his teaching requirement without having to prepare any lesson plans.
Wiggins is a man of two faces. In class he had a dry humor, could put together a lecture at the last minute (if a presenter, say, didn't show), and was often helpful in guiding senior presentations in class-- either by correcting a student's incorrect equation or keeping a student focused on the subject matter. But behind the scenes he was often condescending, unprofessional, and unhelpful. He would forget your name within minutes of meeting you (in seminars, you expect a little personal attention), would respond to emails sarcastically, and generally just wouldn't give you the time of day. Brilliant guy, for sure, but not nugget-worthy.
CULPA NOTE: The following review is a compilation of multiple reviews written by a single individual. ----------------------- ----------------------------------------------- Chris is da man. He is super duper awesome and has the brain of ten Einsteins all in one ordinary looking man. He can recite entire lectures from memory and write the most breathtakingly beautiful mathematics on the board with haunting elegance and with amazingly profound clarity and deep, deep insight. After taking his course, my IQ soared to a whopping 150 and imparted me with the meaning of life. I highly, highly recommend Chris, the greatest, most magnificent human being ever. I once saw Chris levitate briefly while writing at the board as no doubt he was connecting with the great stately pleasure-dome of Kubla Khan in ephemeral realm of Xanadu itself. So intuned with that great cosmic source is Chis that I once saw him stop with his once hand a four-ton truck that was careening down Broadway and heading for a woman pushing a baby carriage. Chris ran in front of the truck, extended his palm out and as if catching a softball, halted the truck to a stop and then lifted the front end of the truck with his two hands to allow a pidgeon that was trying to walk to the other side of the street. What is most amazing is that he was in the middle of explaing to me and another student a super clustering algorithm and kept on explaining the method all throughout his heroic deed. Chris, a man that is more than man: A modern day Saint, poet, educator, hero, and brilliant minded professor for all the ages. He is a real modern day Renaissance man. I say Chris should run for President! Chriss 2008! Take his class now before he goes to office. Don't miss the chance of having taken a course by this amazing man. *Paid for by the People-Who-Really-Really-Like-Chris Foundation.
This is a review for applied math ppl, particularly upcoming jrs/srs. I think Chris' set of courses provide a great introduction to applied math & how it can be used to further your own research ends. You pick up the basics & he shows you how to put it all together using new language to describe what we've seen over and over again. Seminar + qbio = serious integration of knowledge. Because of his classes, the applied math seminars I attend in the department are much less opaque to me. Also, I don't find his presentation of the math painful. In fact, I love that he describes grinding out some algebra as 'morally cleansing'. [Yeah, serious math geek here -- how many classes have I taken with Patrick (prof. x) Gallagher? It'll be at least four before I graduate.] Granted, Chris can be a bit prickly once in a while, but he means well. An improvement would be regular office hours. The people who wrote the last two negative posts obviously either a) do not understand applied mathematic or b) are here at Columbia to regurgitate whatever's been jammed into their little brains. If you are here to learn, create, & prepare yourself for grad school, get to know this professor. Prof. Wiggins is the finesse man. You pick up all the basics & he shows you how to put them all together. seminars + biophysics = serious integration of knowledge (portable to boot). If you can't see this, then b) above probably applies to you. Re: his papers: the last person to post on this has a very narrow view of what it means to publish & obviously has no idea what it means to collaborate within the larger scientific community. When you're a prof. & you're name appears on a paper (esp. other than in the first or second spot), it means someone has asked you for your help and you have graciously given it. It doesn't mean that you have begged and pleaded to be let in on a project. People, get a clue!
Wiggins is the man. Any one who posts he's just a "Jack of all trades" has obviously never taken his biophysics class --- or read any of his papers, seen any of the articles about his research, etc. Any class from him is a great reason to major in applied mathematics. He doesn't do "stated office hours," so the last post makes pretty much no sense at all. He's totally generous about talking to you about a math problem, what to do for the summer, what to do after Columbia, pretty much anything.
Chris is a great professor for this seminar. He clearly knows almost every topic inside and out, and he can produce on-the-spot and in-depth examples to illustrate points. He gets a bit technical sometimes, but if you're majoring or minoring in Applied Math, you should be used to it. The presenters and topics vary greatly in interest and public speaking ability, but most are worth hearing, and Chris does a really good job of tying everything together. He's extremely friendly and approachable, and won't hesitate to give you extended feedback, extra explanation, or any other kind of pointers if you ask him for them. You get out of the class what you put into it; everything won't appeal to you, but the broad exposure to careers and research is invaluable.
I'm currently a junior majoring in applied math. Although I don't think that I am interested in research or really math intensive work, i have certainly gained a lot from the seminar - mainly job connections and direction for the future. The work load is light so you do not dread coming to class. The professor also does a good job of having the students participate in class discussions which make the class more fun and allow you to meet one's fellow majors.
I am graduating this year and have had Prof. Wiggins for multiple semesters of seminar and have found him to be extremely intelligent, helpful, and approachable individual - he gives great advice not only for math, but also for advice on research, classes, and jobs. The class is an opportunity to learn a great deal about a variety of mathematical techniques as well as to be exposed to a multitude of career options with a background in applied mathematics e.g. ibanking, consulting, trading, grad school, research. Prof. Wiggins makes sure that everyone is involved in the lectures and presentations and does not leave anyone behind. He's on a first name basis with all students - and is always polite, friendly, and super respectful with everybody. I learned a lot math in the class, but more importantly, seminar was a terrific opportunity for me to decide on my next step with an education in applied mathematics.
As a junior, nothing is required of you. It is a one-point pass/fail class. Attendance is not taken regularly, maybe Chris recognizes some people, but I don't think he knows every junior's name. Sometimes the class has an interesting speaker, but the student speakers are often uninteresting or poorly prepared.