Introduction to Probability and Statistics 1: Probability
Winter 2021 - I loved 170E with Professor Tyler – he was a really good teacher, taught a lot, and was really helpful during office hours. There's a good amount of homework, but since we were virtual the midterms and final weren't bad. Class seems to be one of the easier math classes, but also one that's pretty interesting as well, and Tyler is a great teacher for this class.
Fall 2020 - This professor was the most unclear and unfair professor. I don't understand why he was even able to be teaching and don't believe he should continue. When I first started the class, I thought he was a really cool math professors with lots of icebreakers and fun games to help understand concepts. However, as the class went on it seemed to me that he really was playing mind games on the whole class. He would make typos on lectures and then frame it as if he did it on purpose, giving people bonus points left and right for what felt like complete favoritism. For our second midterm, he gave some of the class the ENTIRE midterm with word for word questions that COMPLETELY ruined the curve. The first midterm was fair and those who worked hard actually did better but since you were able to take the midterm with the higher score almost everyone got 100% on that midterm. Not to mention, he would tell us to ignore certain material that he said wouldn't be tested which then showed up on exams! For the final, there were many rumors that he gave people in office hours the questions that would be on the final. This class was extremely corrupt, as I had an A in the class up until the terrible and impossible final that was given. I am extremely upset with the way this class had ended and definitely wouldn't recommend taking his class. I have even reported this to the math department and I am very disappointed that no action was taken further.
Winter 2022 - Overall, Ben is a great professor, and you can’t go wrong with him. There are a few things I will nitpick and warn future students about, however. The first several weeks of the class are very much like a high school probability/stats course or Econ 41. You learn about counting, then conditional probability and Bayes’ theorem, then discrete random variables and MGF’s until the end of week 4. After week 4, the class becomes markedly harder. You learn about continuous random variables, bivariate distributions, conditional bivariate distributions, continuous bivariate distributions, and inequalities like Chebyshev’s before finishing with the central limit theorem. I thought Ben did a great job of putting all the information about these topics out there. However, I feel like I leave this class with a lack of intuition about probability. I still lack an intuitive understanding of what a random variable is, for example, even though I kept up with the class. It felt like I was playing around with objects I didn’t fully understand, so I’m leaving this class with a little less understanding than I expected. Big warning for future students: the class is very backloaded. The final alone is worth 45% of the grade. The topics that you learn in the latter half of the class are generally harder, in my opinion, meaning that the class will be smooth sailing until the very end, where you realize it was a bad idea to put this class on the back burner for 5 weeks. I imagine Ben grades like this so that students are tested most on the new material they learn (rather than the introductory material they they may have learned in high school). Although I completely understand why he does this, it still makes the class pretty hectic toward the end.
Spring 2021 - COVID QTR - Overall, this was a pretty good class. The lectures were very clear and there were two projects with a bit of MATLAB/R (your choice, could even be C++) coding that were a little long but fun! The weekly homework assignments took a very long time (4-13 hours) and sometimes required me to read a few chapters of the textbook, but towards the end the professor made the workload a bit lighter. If you know calculus i.e. how to compute indefinite and double integrals, you should be completely prepared. Professor Needell and our TA Derek were very knowledgeable and approachable throughout the quarter and recorded their lectures/sections making the class logistics very convenient. Be aware that the class structure may change in the future as this was all online, but I would take another class with this professor again. This was a good class to learn probability and prepare you for any future classes that have a probability requisite.
Summer 2021 - Professor Kye is a super nice guy. He's very accommodating and polite. However, his effort towards this class was super low. I don't mind him lecturing straight out of the book. If he thinks the book is the best source, then that's fine. It's his assignments/exams that bothered me. Here's a fuller breakdown: 1) Professor Kye did not collect homework. Your grade is based on three exams: two midterms and one final exam. He did send emails with problems from the book that you should do to prepare. I felt like he stopped trying with those problems as the weeks went on. I don't think he even looked at what he was assigning, as some of the problems he picked were very bizarre. In office hours, he mentioned once that he hasn't looked at the problems yet, but I suspect he never looks at them, as he is not interested in any questions from the HW but is rather there to help you with lecture material. 2) His exams are very much inspired by the textbook as well. However, for our second midterm, he gave a problem that was not covered. Five hours into the exam time period (36 hours), he sent an email telling us to skip that problem. This shows that he literally didn't even look at the exam before publishing it. I'm guessing he made the exam a while ago and just put it away until it was time to release it. This type of effort is a bit annoying, because I spent a lot of my time trying to figure that problem out before he sent his late email. 3) His final wasn't cumulative, but the problems were definitely harder than the midterm problems. Lot of the problems required old stuff you learned pre-midterm 2 anyway, so even though the final wasn't cumulative, it might as well have been. If you self study throughout the quarter and go to TA office hours, I think you will be good to go. Overall, Professor Kye is a good guy, but his class was kind of a mess. Math 170E is one of the easier math upper divs, so I think you will be alright! Good luck!