Introduction to Discrete Structures
Fall 2021 - Professor Ramsey is a great guy and engaging and funny lecturer. You can tell he's passionate about the class. However, after seeing so many good reviews implying that the class is super easy, I took this class and was not happy. Prof explains the material well and the homework is super easy and short, BUT (!!!!!!) the midterms and final are TERRIBLE - problems you've never seen before, 10x the difficulty of anything we've gone over in class, and impossible to solve given it's your first time seeing it and you're on a tight time crunch. I studied my ass off and can confidently say I knew all the material we were taught extremely well, but I failed the final because the problems were so unhinged and unexpected. DEFINITELY NOT AN EASY A
Spring 2023 - I’m really surprised not to see any good reviews for Prof Robichaux. She’s a really good lecturer and breaks down new concepts methodically in a way that it makes sense even if you’ve never heard them before. This math class is genuinely one of the few where I found the lectures to be the most valuable resource and didn’t depend much on Youtube. There’s a textbook as well that’s great although I didn’t use it exhaustively. Her uploaded notes are great to review before a test and all her lectures are recorded. That being said, if u want to get a good grade, you actually have to understand the material in a way that isn’t memorizing question formats. On tests, she tends to use a familiar question format but changes something small that you cant ignore because it might completely change the way you approach the question. There is a strict rubric, but I feel like you can’t be mad about it when TAs are trying to grade 200 proofs as similarly as possible. Find a study group and go through homework together, because it’s difficult not to make a small mistake here and there. Go to office hours if you don’t understand one of the A.E. Most of the time she’ll go through them if you ask. Usually these are the graded questions on the homework. To give some credit to earlier reviews, I believe Fall 2023 was her first quarter teaching, and it seems like the class then was much more difficult. My guess is she’s since adjusted her test difficulty to accommodate. Robichaux isn’t easy but she’s fair. This isn’t a class you can game, so make sure it’s one you prioritize.
Fall 2019 - I think that the quarter that I took it was Professor Rubin’s first quarter teaching, but I would 11/10 recommend him. Lectures/Professor Professor Rubin is extremely clear during lectures and his class was appropriately paced. He will stop to explain and answer students’ questions if there are any. He also has a pretty good sense of humor and I feel like he is funny without really trying, as in he will randomly make some remarks that make the class laugh. Participation/Discussions Discussions are mandatory for the attendance grade and my TA passed around a sign in sheet. For my discussion section, the TA went over the course content briefly and then gave us a worksheet to do. It’s not mandatory to turn the worksheet in, but just good practice. At the end of the last 20 ish minutes, the TA will go over the worksheet. I’m not sure if that’s how all discussion sections go though. Piazza/Extra Help Usually, any hw or content related questions will be answered by the TAs and they are very helpful and respond pretty quickly. Any logistics related questions the professor will also respond pretty quickly. As for office hours, I have personally never went to any, but whenever office hours are cancelled due to a holiday, the professor will offer make up office hours after break. Homework/Exams There is weekly homework, most of which are textbook problems, with the occasional extra problems from the professor. The homework problems are, in my opinion, much harder than his actual exams. It took me quite a bit of time and thinking and looking at Piazza to finish the problems. However, the amount is not crazy a lot and I think it was pretty reasonable for a math class. As mentioned earlier, the exams aren’t that bad and is actually pretty easy if you know the content and have attempted the problems. There is also more than enough time to complete the problems. If I remember correctly, the midterms each have 4 problems (some with multiple parts) and final has 8 problems. The problems aren’t tricky and are really just testing your understanding. Also, both midterms had an average of around 80 or 84, which probably says a lot about the exam difficulty. The only thing, though, is that the professor doesn’t give out practice problems. He will give a study guide but it’s really just a list of topics that he has covered. Overall, I highly Professor Rubin’s class. However, although the exams weren’t hard, I would still recommended studying ahead and doing the hw/practice problems. Discrete math covers a variety of topics so it’s important to be familiar with all of them.
Spring 2020 - Professor Salazar was incredibly sweet and kind to us students during the Spring 2020 quarter. At first, I was concerned about taking Math 61 with him because of his mediocre BruinWalk rating, but I have to say that I am really glad that I ignored them and took the class anyway. Firstly, his class was very fair. All our exams had problems similar to the homework, so earning a good grade was a matter of being diligent and doing all your assignments. Also, the reviews that talk about him being a terrible lecture are totally untrue, in my opinion – there are times where he goes a little bit too fast, but he always answers questions during lecture and overall does a good job keeping everyone on task. The only thing I'm concerned about is learning – since we had open note + open internet exams, I did feel like I didn't learn as much from the exams. Additionally, because of the circumstances around this quarter, we did not finish all the material that is typically covered in the course, which makes me slightly concerned about future courses that might use some of that information. But, despite that, Salazar is an incredibly nice human being and I would highly recommend his class.
Schaeffer is great. Clear explanations, sense of humor, fair grading. He gives you lots of study material for exams (practice exams, list of expectations, practice questions). Above all, he just makes you feel like all the material is completely doable. I'm really glad he's at UCLA. By the way, had Will Rosenbaum as a TA. He was great, too.