professor
Shaw-Hwa Lo

Feb 2020

The worst professor I have ever had not only in Columbia but also throughout my entire education history. His class is the total opposite of clear-explained, and he doesn't speak English. Most of the international students speak better English than he does. The most important, he is so indifferent and so cold. He truly doesn't care about his students; he ignored all of my emails, which I consider extremely rude. I had a really really important issue to negotiate with him, but he ignored all of my emails. I could say that he ruined my life for now. I don't know if things will work out a few years after, but it is impossible for me to say anything good now.

Jan 2020

Didn't show up half the classes because there is really a no point (ta makes the exams). Surprisingly, I got an A. I have no idea how I did for the final because he didn't submit the scores.

Jan 2018

I should've listened to the other reviewers. It was clear that the professor didn't care much about the class. It was also clear that the professor, TA, and grader never communicated. Lectures were very theory-oriented, and the TA office sessions were about proofs. But the homeworks were mostly word problems and so were the exams. The averages on most of the tests were between 50-60%, and I don't even know why because the problems weren't very hard. I got a bad grade. The TA was a condescending jackass. The professor was a sweet guy but didn't care much. It was hard to know what to study, and I didn't make this class a priority, so I feel the pain now. Wait to take this class with someone else, or skip if you can.

Jan 2017

This class was the worst experience at Columbia. The professor is unclear with his explanations, do not cover enough example problems in class, and runs late on schedule. Therefore, the last weeks were very rushed. Throughout the entire semester, I had to learn by myself from the textbook, which was also very hard to understand. Although I do not consider myself as a statistics genius, I do consider myself as a quick learner. However, the way the professor explained things made the material much harder than it actually is. The course brought my grades down, and deprived my motivation to study statistics. Do everything you can to avoid this class.

Dec 2016

First let me start off by saying that this class is largely dependent on who you TA is, if you get Andrew Davison, I wish you all the luck in the world. The material covered in this class can be pretty confusing mostly due to the awkward wording and multiple ways of interpreting various questions. On tests it really comes down to trying to figure out what the TA was trying to ask, and building your answer around that assumption. Professor Lo, has his quirks, and isn't exactly the best professor I've ever encountered. Most of his lectures are quite confusing and are often a waste of time. Every once in awhile there are a few gems in there so best to show up at least 50% of the time. Without a doubt he cares a lot about the subject, but just can't seem to get a point across unless on the rare occasion he decides to talk about a real world example from research he has done. What he lacks in teaching skills though, he makes up for in understanding, as long as you are willing to honestly let him know how the class and tests are going for you. Otherwise, because of his incredibly hands off approach to this class you are going to get crushed. To illustrate this, I emailed him on a number of occasions and never heard back. Everything, including the tests, are left up to his TA. Why is that so important? Because when you get a super probability genius TA PhD candidate from Cambridge, you are in for a world of hurt on the tests. For both our midterms the class average hovered around a median of 50%. About 2/3 of the class scored a little below that mark, but there were some outliers. Many people had around a 30% - 40% on both midterms. Not a single person finished either midterm, and many only finished about a half of it or a little more in the 75 minute time span. Because professor Lo is so understanding though, he took our pain to heart and created a drastic curve, and the final ended up being slightly easier, but still low (or should I say Lo...) grades overall. Makes sure you know who your TA is for this class before committing. Ultimately, you should be ok though, if not a bit demoralized. Wikipedia and Chegg Study will be your friend, because the textbook isn't the best in helping fill the gaps in knowledge from the class.

Dec 2016

I am sorry to say so but Prof. Lo is not really approachable. If you sent him emails, it would be a miracle that he replied. He never designed or graded the mid-terms himself, separating himself with his students, only to be told the mid-terms were not even related to what he expected us to know. I really see no point of spending more than 200 dollars per class listening to him reading the textbook, let alone the fact that he could not even read his own notes clearly. Maybe the only good thing about Prof. Lo's class is that he did do something after the exam to make you feel better, yet I am not sure whether he has well thought through his ideas before presenting it to the class. In sum, it may be a good idea to save some money and time, and learn this course by yourself. However, the Department of Statistics has made this one a compulsory course for anyone whose major has something to do with statistics; and Prof. Lo happened to be the only one who is teaching this course. So be prepared. Don't have too much expectation from this course. Or maybe, it is going to overturn your perception of what a Columbia education is like. If given a chance, I wish I had never taken this course. Best luck!

Dec 2014

Shaw-Hwa Lo is not a very good professor. Pros: - There is supposedly a large curve. The average grades on the midterms (69 and 62, respectively) are to be curved to a B/B+, apparently. - He posts lecture notes on CourseWorks Cons: - His English is not the greatest, so it's hard to understand him sometimes. He can be hard of hearing too. - When he writes on the blackboard, the writing is nearly illegible and extremely tiny. - He breezed through the last few chapters in the last week, which was bad because they are the most challenging ones. - He is not that great at explaining concepts. Sometimes he'll delve into theory and proofs even though there won't be any on the exams. That will take up time that could've been spent on working through additional problems. Make sure you do your homework (try to do them without resorting to answer keys unless you've done your best already). The exams are very problem-oriented, so drill and kill on homework problems and examples, not on the theory. Also, the prerequisite for this course is "Elementary Calculus," but be absolutely sure you know how to do double integrals (not covered in Calculus III) and find the determinant (basic matrices, Linear Algebra). They play a key role in the final chapters of the course.

Jan 2014

Don't take this class unless you have to, in which case there is only one section (unless you want to take the grad school one, which is probably terrible too). Prof. Lo is a horrendous teacher on several levels. 1. He does not speak English well. 2. He speaks very quietly. You have to sit in the first two rows if you want to hear anything. 3. Even if he was great at speaking, he's still terrible at explaining things. 4. Asking questions is equivalent to pressing an instant replay button: he's just going to repeat the last thing he said in exactly the same words. You will soon learn not to bother. The only reason the class isn't so hard is that everyone is on equal footing here. Seriously, don't even bother going to the lectures (most people did not show up after Day 1). It is so boring I can't even explain. Also it's like a mile from my other classes. The textbook is okay, so you can teach yourself from there. I would recommend going to the TA's office hours because no one went and he's actually a great teacher (his name is Jonathan, though he might switch to a different class next semester). Don't save the textbook reading for right before the exams though because the textbook spends it's sweet time explaining every concept in tons of examples, and you never know what you can skip and what you can't. The tests tended to reward those who actually did the homeworks, so definitely go over those before the tests. Also, put tons of examples on your cheat sheet. And, if you don't know how to do a test question at all, just put on some formulas and make it up. You will most likely get 3/4 credit anyway. Do NOT leave anything blank: you are just screwing yourself big time. Anyway, I am warning you now: this is probably the worst class you will ever take at Columbia. But, if you gotta take it, you gotta take it.

Jan 2014

Very mixed about this class. The two previous reviews make it look as it's quite easy to get an A. It's not. Let me give you the pros and cons: Pros - Prof.Lo is a very nice guy. - Generous grading. - Big curve at the end. - No proofs. Cons - The lectures are not very helpful. Prof. Lo reads through his handwritten slides, full of formulas, but then post the slides only one or two weeks after the lecture (or later), because he wants to "finish the whole chapter first". - The book is at times incomprehensible. - The exams questions are not very straightforward, in particular in the final. - There is a lot of cheating and this tends to inflate the curve.

Jan 2013

Yes, he is hard to understand, but his discussions are based on powerpoint notes that he has projected the entire class (Sometimes they are hard to follow, but the problems are usually similar to example problems in the textbook). Yes, sometimes it's hard to follow him in class, but either a) you probably don't need to know that stuff or b) you can follow along in the textbook. All you really need to take away from his lectures are the helpful example problems. After all, the exams are completely problem based, not proof or theoretical based. As long as you get the textbook (I usually followed along with a PDF in class, its a very small book), you will be fine. Review homework problems and other practice problems in textbook for exams. I ended up with an A. Not a bad class at all, really.

Jan 2011

I took this course last semester as an auditor. The class is very straight forward if you are able to follow along with the textbook in front of you. The professor is not extremely helpful during lectures since he does not really understand the needs of undergraduate students; he solely teaches PhD students. Knowing this, he does not actually realize when he has lost his class when lecturing, therefore following at his own pace. However, it is also stupid to consider the reviews of students who do not seem to have adequate knowledge of basic algebra or common sense. Of course the professor would be irritated by simple stupid questions posed by students who do not invest their own time at home with their books. To me, this class is very easy, especially since the professor gives a RIDICULOUS curve at the end....

Jan 2011

It's extremely unfortunate that he was the only professor to teach this course because Shaw-Hwa Lo is undoubtedly one of the worst professors one will ever encounter at Columbia. He doesn't know how to explain concepts to his students,and thus makes going to class utterly useless. I personally would know because I actually went to about 90% of his classes, and ended up with about 10 pages of notes for an entire semester, all of which were useless upon studying. On the bright side, Michael Agne, the TA, is very responsive to e-mails, always willing to answer questions regarding homework or exam topics, and his review sessions are rather helpful and should definitely be something you attend before each exam. Also, it is still possible to get a good grade in the class if you can read the book and learn on your own.

Dec 2010

He is the worst instructor I have ever encountered at Columbia. Here's why: 1. He cannot speak English to save his life. Every time he opens his mouth, I think of the Samuel L Jackson scene in Pulp Fiction: "English ------------, DO YOU SPEAK IT?" Hardly anybody understands him. 2. He is a poor communicator. This is distinct from his poor language skills. Even if his English were perfect, the way he explains concepts is so convoluted that you probably wouldn't understand the material any better. As the other reviewer said, any questions posed to him are met with exactly the same explanation as before. 3. He is condescending. Loves to declare "this is a trivial result" while half the class is still scratching their heads regarding how he got there. Also asks, "are you with me?" *no response, confused silence* "Ok, next problem!" Seems to be very amused by the class' inability to grasp concepts that he deems trivial. 4. Completely rushed through 2 of the most difficult chapters in the entire semester in the last 2 classes, just so he could put them on the final. Need I say more? The sole saving grace of this class was that we had a great TA (Michael Agne), who filled in for 2 classes while Prof Lo was away. I strongly recommend that the Statistics department allow the TA to teach the entire class instead.

Jan 2009

I took this guys Intro to Statistics. Easy class... HORRIBLE TEACHER! He's a nice guy, but not only can you not understand him, he can not teach intro classes. He seems like a very brilliant guy, but he can't put anything into simpler terms for students to understand. When you don't understand he sometimes gets mad and explains it just as he had before (without trying to help you understand it in a different way). When you ask questions he has absolutely no idea how to answer you because he just doesn't understand (which gets very frustrating when you are stumped on something).