Theory of Computing
Summer 2021 - Professor Burgin cares. One of the few that you can have from UCLA. Might be biased but I major in Math and most Math professors are not this nice and genuine. The materials and the way he teaches the materials are very organized. I was intimidated at first taking this class as I heard there'd be a lot long proofs (there are but most of them are not really that long) and logic traps (not really, he likes problems straightforward), but it turned out one of my favorites. I kinda like doing and solving the puzzles like these. Again. The professor is one of the true good ones. Homeworks, midterms and final are all very reasonable. As long as you care reciprocally about the course, it could be somehow challenging but you'd still be fine.
She is the worst professor I've had at UCLA. It is clear that at one time, she was a preeminent mind in her field (around 8th week, you do a section on "Greibach Normal Form"). I would guess that she was at one point a pretty good teacher as well- she at least makes attempts at humor, she seems to understand the material pretty well, and she seemed to at least mildly prefer that we learn something. That being said, she should have retired 10+ years ago. I sat in the third row, and I couldn't hear a word she said. She somehow managed to mumble in a quiet monotone. We started with 40 people in the class, and by the time I stopped going (around 6th week) there were only 12 students still showing up. Her course reader is a collection of fragmented sentences giving vague psuedocode descriptions of algorithms you've never heard of. The savior of this course was Brian Taigku, the TA. If you have to take this class, don't bother going to lecture- just go to your discussion section and you'll be fine. Greibach seems like a nice person, and I have nothing against her personally, but it is clear that she is at UCLA for the sole reason that she is a big name in the field of automata theory. I was surprised her bruinwalk raitings were so high- I suspect that people gave her some leniency because she IS a sweet old woman. Just not a good professor.
Fall 2022 - meka is amazing. his lectures are super insightful and genuinely thought provoking. i came in expecting to hate 181 but it ended up being one my favorite ucla cs classes. his exams aren't necessarily easy but i felt that they were fair. biggest tips for success in the class: 1. do all of the practice exams since your exams will have a similar structure 2. do the practice problems on the hw to the best of your ability. even if you can't do them completely on your own, make sure you understand the solutions. a similar problem usually comes up on the exam!
He was a good professor. While he didn't do much to spruce up the material, it in itself was fairly interesting and kept me interested. He's not the greatest lecturer, and occasionally strays off on tangents, but they are all fairly relevant and do not detract from the class. Exams are manageable, but our homework grader marked everyone down so liberally most people ended up getting around 20% on most of the homeworks. If you went and talked with Parker though he would listen to your arguments and make changes if he felt you had valid points. Parker is fairly accessible and you can tell that he is genuinely concerned about student learning, though he isn't the greatest lecturer.
Winter 2019 - What an amazing experience CS181 with Professor Sahai was. If you like mathematics, you are in for an absolute treat. Professor Sahai, in his own words, conducts the "advanced mathematical version" of CS181. Anyone who wants to take this class must be prepared to invest a considerable amount of effort. But the rewards are entirely commensurate with the effort. Professor Sahai's lectures involve extensive interactions with students and opportunities abound for extra credit. The homeworks, midterm and exam are all very interesting, and several questions are challenging. Some of them really require meditation and contemplation over the course of several days, and are not at all the type of questions that can be solved in one sitting of a few hours. Several ideas only came to my head while I was in the shower, walking around campus, or eating dinner. These ideas require time to germinate and develop. This is how mathematics is supposed to be done. This was by far the best CS class I ever took at UCLA. And Professor Sahai was the best professor I encountered in CS.
Spring 2023 - I don't know where all the old reviews for this professor went... but I really enjoyed taking Theory of Computing with this professor. If you can, definitely take it with Sherstov! Definitely one of my favorite CS courses at UCLA. He is definitely the best lecturer I've ever had (yes, better than Smallberg). He writes all his notes on a whiteboard, which I found very easy to follow. He is very passionate about the topics and explains them clearly and engagingly. His lectures are well-structured and he uses a lot of examples and diagrams to illustrate the concepts. I also highly recommend the office hours since it just makes everything click. The homeworks get challenging but they help you learn a lot and prepare you for the exams. The exams are fair and he provides practice exams that cover the main points. As for the curve, I'm pretty sure he just truncates 5 points for Midterms 1 & 2 and 10 points for the final. For example, the midterms were out of 30 points, but the maximum grade you can get is 25/25, so if you got 27/25, you would get 100%. I found this to be pretty generous.