Politics and Strategy

Barry O'Neill

Politics and Strategy

Political Science department

Barry O'Neill

Add Review
from 45 users

Ratings

Bad
Overall 3.3
Good
Hard
Easiness of class 3.2
Easy
Heavy
Workload 3.6
Light
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 2.5
Clear
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 3.2
Helpful
AD

Tags

  • Uses Slides
  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Often Funny

Grades

Winter 2020
33.1%
27.6%
22.1%
16.6%
11.0%
5.5%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2019
25.0%
20.8%
16.7%
12.5%
8.3%
4.2%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2017
20.7%
17.2%
13.8%
10.3%
6.9%
3.4%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2016
23.2%
19.3%
15.5%
11.6%
7.7%
3.9%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Fall 2014
25.6%
21.3%
17.1%
12.8%
8.5%
4.3%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Winter 2010
24.4%
20.3%
16.2%
12.2%
8.1%
4.1%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

AD
AD
1 of 4

Reviews

Quarter Taken: Winter 2021
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Submitted March 30, 2021
Grade Received: A

Barry O’Neil is many things: A myth, a meme, a nice guy, an actual wizard of game theory (not a joke look him up)... a good teacher— unfortunately— is not one of them. Barry uses creative but convoluted examples to explain a lot of otherwise easy concepts and many things get lost in translation. The assignments however, and the actual content of the class, are straightforward and easy. If your TA has any sort of brain, this will be an enjoyable class (despite Barry’s interesting teaching antics) that’s totally possible to get an A in. A lot of people took Barry the wrong way and assumed he was trying to be malign somehow when in reality he was teaching the only way he knows how. Furthermore, he was always accessible and more than happy to answer questions in his office hours. In other words, he puts in the work, is a genuinely nice guy, and a game theory legend, but sometimes can explain things the wrong way. Is that a reason not to take this class? I don’t know, you tell me.

I’d be happy to take another class with Barry again.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2020 Submitted March 18, 2020 Grade Received: A

I have very mixed feelings about this class.
Barry is probably one of the most genuine professors at UCLA. He is unashamedly himself during lectures, but this, unfortunately, comes across as extremely confusing . This class was an overwhelming experience because the professor only talked about what interested him; he didn't take a whole lot of time to teach the basics of game theory. Barry is undoubtedly a brilliant mathematician and game theorist. He just had a lot of difficulty breaking it down into simpler concepts and making it clear. Barry said at the beginning of the quarter that the textbook was mandatory, but he didn't actually use it (DON'T BUY IT).
Another downside to this class is that you have absolutely no idea how you are performing. The TAs try to be as up front as possible with you, but Barry doesn't even tell them how he's grading the class. The midterm grade was determined by quintiles- the top 20% get As, the next 20% get Bs, and so on. Barry told us at the beginning that we would get put in a quintile relative to how the entire class performed. During sections, though, the TAs said that they were told to put us in quintiles according to ONLY their sections. Because of this confusion, I had no clear idea of how I was performing in the class.
Without my TA, Cybele Kappos, I would understand very little about game theory. I probably would have flunked the midterm.
If you take this class with Barry, expect funny, but confusing, lectures. Expect to learn everything from your TA. Expect to watch Kathy Bawn's pre-recorded lectures on YouTube. Expect to watch GameTheory101 on YouTube.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2021
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Submitted March 31, 2021
Grade Received: A

There are many questions in life: What's at the end of a rainbow? Do aliens exist? What is my purpose? Why are people so arbitrarily upset at Barry O'Niel; game theory celebrity, master procrastinator, and living legend? Is there a god?

I do not know the answer to any of these questions. However, I will attest that this class is not hindered by Barry's occasional lack of clarity. He really puts effort in (although he will procrastinate on things like, say, writing tests, grading everything, etc), the content of the course is very straightforward and easy, and he doesn't assign much work. The TA's in my class were all extremely helpful. Barry's office hours were solid and consistent. If you strained your hearing and asked clarifying questions you could even easily make sense out of some of Barrys odd examples. It's a good class and I'd take it again.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2021
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Submitted March 30, 2021
Grade Received: A+

I really enjoyed this class. A lot of people from W21 are going to complain for literally no reason but just ignore the negative reviews. His lectures are recorded, you don't have to show up. I did but I usually was only half paying attention. Everything is made clear during discussion. The actual math involved is extremely basic algebra so don't stress about that. Is Prof O'Neill a bit of a scatter brain? Yes. Are his slides a bit messy sometimes? Yes. Would I take a class with him again? Absolutely. He is the sweetest man and clearly cares a lot about student learning. The grading scheme is very generous, pretty much everyone gets a B- or better, with the majority getting As. Take this class!

Quarter Taken: Winter 2021
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Submitted March 24, 2021
Grade Received: N/A

Prof. is wholesome, funny, and loves to bring up stories about things he's interested in or experienced. In the beginning, it was pretty difficult to distinguish if he was talking about random stories or if it was actually related to the content... turns out, it was related to the content. It comes across as getting sidetracked, but you need to know the stories and his opinions!! The technical parts of game theory can be confusing during his lectures, but the TA's were really helpful during section. Prof's slides can be disorganized at times, and he'd fix them during class.

The midterm caught us off guard. We were expecting more math-related stuff, and while that was on there, a LOT of it was based on his opinions. After the midterm though, we were more prepared because we knew what his tests would look like. The final was a good mix of his stories and the math stuff. It was worth 40% of your grade, but he claims to be lenient with grading!

Bottom Line: This class can be really confusing, TA's will help you with the actual math stuff, his opinions/stories are important and ARE related to concepts. I liked the prof though, he was very nice and seems like a great teacher that's just struggling with the technology. I think he'd have a much easier time teaching if this were in person.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2020 Submitted March 21, 2020 Grade Received: A+

Ok. Can Professor O'Neill be confusing at times? Yes. There were times during lecture where my friends and I would just look at each other in complete and utter confusion. However, this doesn't make Barry a bad professor. Barry is probably one of the nicest, funniest professors I've had the pleasure of having so far. Sometimes I would leave lecture actually understanding the material! That being said, my godly TA (Cybele Kappos!!) would fill in all the gaps during section. As a Poli Sci major with zero affinity for math or stats, some subjects made me nervous when we first learned them, like chance and mixed strategy nash equilibrium. Learning these in lecture certainly made me nervous, as sometimes it was hard to keep up with what Barry was saying. However, when he got to the actual calculations, it became pretty straight forward. He also demonstrated "games" for us often, which was fun. From what I've heard from my friends in different sections, your TA can possibly make or break your grade. The midterm was EXACTLY like the homework and practice problems he gives, so it was fairly easy for me. There's also the fact that Barry doesn't believe in "traditional grading systems", meaning you do not receive an actual letter grade for your midterm, but a percentile. This was nervewracking because, despite knowing our percentiles, everyone went through the entire course without ever knowing their actual grades. Overall though, I enjoyed the course and loved having Barry as a professor and Cybele as a TA :)

Quarter Taken: Winter 2021
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Submitted March 27, 2021
Grade Received: NR

Just a warning for Winter 2021 reviews. Some reviews are going to complain about how they were confused/the professor wasn't helpful/the professor didn't like collaboration on homework. During the quarter a large scale weekly homework review session (with roughly 80-90 people in attendance) was held over zoom by a student. Soon, the professor and TAs caught on to the fact that people were having the same answers on homework assignments and told the students to stop as it breaches academic integrity. Students were angry saying the professor wasn't helpful however the professor revealed that often times he would have zero students in attendance during his office hours, and many of the TAs had similar experiences. Furthermore, there was only 3 people who would actually ask questions during lecture and hardly anybody used the chat (even though the TAs would answer any questions given in the chat in-depth). The Professor didn't push any action against it and just kindly requested that students attend office hours instead, which is something very generous given the situation at hand. He even encouraged the TAs to being recording their discussion sections (something which isn't done in order to promote attendance for our participation grade) in order to ensure further clarity on materials learned in class.

Overall, I believe that people are giving O'Neill harsher views than he should receive. The biggest issue the professor had was simply his struggle with technology. However, even with such a struggle the TAs helped to guide him through any difficulties he experienced. For the final exam, due to the previous issue of confusion each TAs had review sessions and some of them recorded and posted them to CCLE for others to watch. The professor also held two final review sessions (which extended past his 2 hour limit as he stayed on longer to ensure everyone's question was answered) during finals week to ensure that students could ask their questions - on top of him providing a study guide.

Lectures were spent with a heavy emphasis on real world examples and application. He did often times repeat some stuff learned in previous lectures, however he would rework homework assignments and exams to reflect what has and hasn't been taught in lecture. The professor even gave a 10 minute break during the 90 minute lecture to offer students a break from their screens (something which was very appreciated).

Discussion sections were amazing. Where there may have been some confusion with the professor, the TAs collaborated on slides and examples to insure that every student was getting answers to their questions. No matter which TA you had, the slides were the same in-depth and worked out. There was a discrepancy in grading however, as some TAs would grade on a 3 point system and others graded out of percentages.

Homework was fairly easy. Personally, it would take me between 25-45 minutes a week to do them. Much of the homework questions would reflect real life scenarios and should any of the questions have confusing wording, the professor was able to clarify.

Exams are where some issues may arise. Roughly 30% of the exam was questions based upon his examples in class, which many of my classmates found to be unfair. However, both the midterm and final exams were multiple choice, with all the answers easily accessible in either his lectures or his slides. (To the point where for the final exam some people just used the transcripts of the video and did fairly well). This class had zero essays and zero written assignments. His grading system is a bit complex, where it isn't a set percentage, rather he calculates the grade range based upon where the majority of people lie (keeping a majority of people above a B-). It is a little stressful, as it is difficult to understand what your grade is going into the final and even what it is after the final. (I know some reviews are complaining about how long it takes for him to give back final grades, however we have athletes in the class this quarter who had to take it at a later date, which causes the delay).

Overall, professor O'Neill cares about his students. Looking at any grade distribution will show you that. He's kind and funny and given the technology boundary of this quarter, he tried his best to ensure that class was engaging and that we had some involvement in class activities. He gave us plenty of information and preparation for final exams and treated a very big issue like academic integrity in a very kind manner, and one that is an extreme outlier given what happens. Chances are, future classes will be in person, so the issue of technology won't be that prevalent. For a humanities class that uses math, I believe that the professor and TAs did a wonderful job in insuring that students understood what was happening and gave plenty of opportunities should individuals need any help.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2020 Submitted March 16, 2020 Grade Received: A

While Barry was sometimes disorganized with his slides, he is an extremely nice professor and we usually just laugh off any minor blunders. The class itself is not difficult; like any other, if you put the work in, you will succeed. TAs were helpful in explaining anything that was still confusing from lecture. If I'm honest, sometimes going to lecture made the content seem more confusing than when I learned it myself. You can decide whether or not you want to attend. All in all, I would take this class again because I found the content enjoyable and Barry's a sweet old man with an obsession for swiffers.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2020 Submitted Jan. 28, 2020 Grade Received: NR

This is one of the worst classes I have taken at UCLA. The professor is nice which is great and all if we are evaluating him as a person, but the reality is he is supposed to be a good educator, and to say he does not know how to teach is simply an understatement. Despite how well he knows the material, he lacks the ability to articulate it. His lectures are not structured in any way and consist of him rambling on and typically leaving you more confused than you were before you walked in. The teaching assistants try to be helpful but the material is just overall poorly organized and communicated and it is just a shit show. I read the reviews of this class prior to taking it and decided to disregard all of the negative reviews and give the professor and the class a chance, and it was the worst mistake. I strongly recommend everyone to not take this class and take it with a different professor if you can. 0/10 would recommend. It baffles me that such a top tier university like UCLA has professors that are this awful at teaching. It is classes and professors like this that turn an individual who used to love learning and going to class to hating the education system and dreading the mere thought of going to class. Thanks for coming to my ted talk

Quarter Taken: Winter 2021
COVID-19 This review was submitted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your experience may vary.
Submitted Feb. 6, 2021
Grade Received: N/A

I'm still in the middle of this quarter, but I have vowed never to take another class with this Professor. Barry is sweet, funny, and I would be friends with him outside of class, but as a Professor, he makes learning 100x more difficult.

Albeit I'm taking him through zoom in the middle of this panorama, so it might be different in person, but for the last 6 weeks, he has spent the first hour and 30 mins of every class talking about current events. Then in the last 10-15 minutes, he speeds through all the material he was supposed to cover that week. Thankfully I understand what's happening, but most people are not good at math, and this combination of stem and disorganized learning makes it extremely difficult for students to actually learn.

I usually just wait until section to learn what I was supposed to, and my TA has been incredible in that department. If you don't do math at all, then please do yourself this favor and avoid this class or at least take it with another Professor. Many of my friends are having extreme anxiety during this midterm season, and trust me; you don't want to be here for it.

1 of 4

Tags

  • Uses Slides
  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Often Funny
ADS

Report Review

Did this review contain...

There are errors in the report form.

Thank you for the report!

We'll look into this shortly.

It seems like you’re

using an ad blocker. :(


Bruinwalk is an entirely Daily Bruin-run service brought to you for free. We hate annoying ads just as much as you do, but they help keep our lights on. We promise to keep our ads as relevant for you as possible, so please consider disabling your ad-blocking software while using this site.

Thank you for supporting us!