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As others have said, Professor Szlam is extremely disorganized. He seems to forget that he's talking to people who don't already know the material. Besides the lectures, the homework was okay, the quizzes were fine, but I found the tests to be difficult. My first C in a math class. I should have checked Bruinwalk.com before I enrolled in the class... OH WAIT, THAT'S RIGHT. IT WASN'T WORKING. Oh well. );
Recap: He is extremely disorganized and the lectures are AWFUL!
As the reviews before this have said, Professor Szlam was very disorganized. He didn't bring notes, and did the entire lecture from memory. He wasn't very good at asnwering questions on the spot, and often he would go into his own little world and start copying down notes as if he were the only person in the class. His style of teaching is more fit for a discussion than for a lecture. Still, I liked him. He was a nice guy, tried to help - I would say he was concerned with student learning. I just think he was different from most math professors at ucla. Instead of thoughtlessly copying the notes, it was much more helpful to actually pay attention to the lectures and copy what was necessary. Every lecture he would go in depth about some advanced theorem that nobody had heard of before and how it helps validate whatever we're currently learning - but his references were always out of the scope of this course. When you actually try to weed through the information and extract what is relevant, it made sense. His homeworks were all short (5-8 problems), but represented the section very well. The quizzes were all straightforward in my opinion. The curves were high enough (low-mid 80s). The exams (1 midterm and the final) were both pretty difficult, but definitely fair. My only problem with them was that they weren't comprehensive of the sections. Still, they were fair - the averages were pretty low, though (F to D-). Overall, I liked Prof. Szlam, but i guess nobody else did. His tests were very challenging, but pretty fun. It was like a big puzzle, and you actually had to think critically in order to understand the material. I can't deny his poor lecturing skills, though.
Szlam is one of the weirder math lecturers I've had.I wouldn't say his exams were overly hard,perhaps challenging but do-able.He tries to simplify what's going on to a really crude level.The problem is that sometimes the material is actually pretty deep and he sidetracks to explain it.Then he tries to go back to where he was before.Its kinda like a see-saw lecture.I gave up listening for the last few weeks because it started getting really bad.I read the textbook and learned everything I needed in a couple of weeks for all the lectures I never listened to.
The final was okay.Yes he was late.Yes he didn't have enough papers.But he gave unlimited time to finish(3 to 8p.m) so you had plenty of time and no excuses if you did badly.I could have done better if I wasn't so tired from thinking and lack of sleep.
If you like math,and you want some interesting questions to challenge you,and if you can learn independently instead of relying on Szlam's lectures,take a class with him.
Very, very disorganized. I'm sure he's a brilliant mathematician, as he would do all of the lectures from memory and never used notes, but he is not a good professor. His lectures are very hard to follow. He would abruptly jump from one topic to another and back again, and he also has a habit of erasing the stuff you are trying to copy down. If he used notes, it would have helped keep the lectures focused, and on task as opposed to bouncing all over the place. It was way more helpful to read the book (which is actually pretty good) and attend discussion than it was to attend lecture.