Probability and Statistics
She's the best teacher for probability. Ever. She went through proofs in class that were crucial to intuition, and she didn't go too slow or too fast. She taught everything beautifully, and I thought the midterms were the most fun tests I have ever taken. She knows her stuff too, considering her background. If ever someone can teach probability, it would be Lara Dolecek.
Fall 2018 - For a supposedly simple class the professor made it very difficult. Lectures were not clear and have the class didn’t show up. He gave one more homework than on the syllabus plus the project was only a week long instead of the planned 3 weeks so instead of studying for finals everyone was trying to write the long lines of code needed for the vague project spec. Only good thing, nice grading.
Fall 2020 - **This was during the COVID pandemic, so everything was online; this review might not reflect accurately in the future when classes are back to in-person, whenever that will be...** I was compelled to write this review because I felt that his overall rating doesn't do him justice for how much effort and benevolence he put in this quarter for our class. His lectures were engaging (literally, you would get cold called to go through examples, which kept you on your toes), recorded (nice, I was not frequently able to make 8AM :P), and comprehensive. Added to the pretty easy to understand textbook he goes off of, I believe that anyone who puts in an average amount of commitment for this class will get a good grade and with good mastery of the course material. His office hours were also engaging and fruitful, where he would guide you through HW and concepts step by step, and he asks for your participation as well to see if you understand. The HW and lectures were essential to the weekly quizzes, and the recurring quizzes aided in retaining concepts. I thought that the extra credit project was pretty cool as well, where he exemplified how some of the statistics was applied to his field of research. I guess one "drawback" of Professor would be that if you are a fast learner and/or you already know some of the material in this class, his comprehensive approach in deriving you through the concepts might be a little slow. But, for those people, Zoom's got speed up feature. So overall, if he is going to teach 131A again, I suggest him as one of your top choice professors for this course.
Professor Yao is just okay. His lectures are indeed very dry and consist of him reading off his slides on the projector, but at times he livens things up by talking about the real world application of what we're learning. His homework is usually pretty straight forward, but if you run into trouble on it, the two TAs Zicong and Ni-chun are super awesome and will help you with it. The exams are a different story though, I guess. The midterm we had (Winter 2012) was extremely easy (83% average!) and to make up for it, Professor Yao said he'd make the final a bit harder (57% closed book average, 63% open book average). Overall, I don't think the class really builds upon itself very well, which isn't necessarily Professor Yao's fault, but for bleh the class is, Yao does an okay job.