Based on 53 Users
Professor Manolescu is great! As the only person who got three perfect scores at the IMO, he is really smart. His lecture is clear and office hour is always helpful. Midterms are fair and reasonable with one or two tricky problems, so the medians are quite high. I would definitely recommend him for math 61 or any other math class.
Although I'm certain Professor Manolescu is a brilliant man, he is a terrible professor for lower division math. He is extremely disorganized, often writes something on the board only to change his trajectory, and makes quite a few mistakes. He also wastes a lot of class time taking questions from the crowd, which slows down lecture significantly when there are hundreds of people in class. Problem sets are annoying, though exams are easy. Overall, Professor Manolescu did not explain the concepts in the class well at all.
Homework is not too challenging and does not take that long to complete. The midterms for the class were relatively fair. The only thing is that there is no partial credit, so I personally took a hit grade-wise because of it. The final was hard - someone I knew compared it to competition math. He did have a generous grading scheme (if you messed up on one midterm, the final would just be worth more and that midterm's score wouldn't be counted). Manolescu is very helpful during office hours, and is a thorough lecturer. My advice for the class is to do practice problems to study and to not get behind.
Manolescu is an extremely smart professor, and he teaches his students well. I think he's moving to Stanford next quarter to teach, which sucks, but I still felt I should write this review. His lectures are comprehensive (although I skipped many of them), his homework is hard but not busy work, and the 61 textbook is a very good resource to use along with his lectures.
The tests are hard. Although the topics are generally straightforward, the 1st midterm and final especially tend to destroy the class (averages ~D range), since the questions are much harder than the basic textbook problems. Definitely try to look at the test bank and other professors' tests to prepare for his. Our year, the final had 2 insane proofs that seemed intuitively easy, but in fact were really hard to prove, so the averages for the final was around the D range. I got a C- on the final, but an A on the second midterm, which somehow rounded my grade to an A-. Overall, I'm happy I took this class, and probably would take it with Manolescu again, since he really cares about his students and his lectures are pretty good. However, I just wish the final had less proofs on it, and that Manolescu gave harder homework problems / used gradescope to better prepare his students for the tests.
Manolescu is a great professor and really builds your understanding of discrete math from the bottom up. He's really approachable, and always asks during class if anybody has questions, and lots of people ask him questions after class as well. I was a little worried for this class since it seemed like it was just full of a bunch of math and computer science majors who would find this stuff easy (as a side note, some of the stuff taught in this class is also taught in CS32), but I never found myself at a disadvantage just because he started teaching from the basics. The homeworks themselves aren't too bad and are fairly short, and he asks TAs to post solutions online afterwards, so it helps give you a new perspective on how to approach problems. The 2 midterms were reasonable, and the final was as well. One annoyance is that there are a lot of problems that are all or nothing, so partial credit won't save you. Really double check those questions, especially if they're worth a lot! As long as you review your notes and really understand the logical steps, the class shouldn't be too bad. He also has 2 grading schemes, one where you drop 1 midterm and have the final count for more, or have both the midterms and final count. The average for the second midterm was higher than the first (33-34/40 vs 28/40), so I think a lot of people went for the scheme where you drop one midterm. The final average was around 70% I believe, so I think he made it harder since a lot of people did well on the midterms. Overall, I definitely recommend taking the class with him!
As an engineer who has had many bad experiences with math professors in the 31~33 series, I would highly recommend Manolescu.
Personality: He's really nice, patient, and approachable, as well as smart and clear.
Lecture: He's organized and able to teach the material clearly, so lectures are definitely useful, though not absolutely required for exams. I recommend going, but the assigned homeworks are also capable of teaching you adequately.
Homework: They're brief and easy to do, but also hard enough to prepare you for exams. Unlike other math classes, you don't need to "rely" on solution manuals.
Midterms: Basically, there will be one hard problem that splits the class between near perfect scores and average scores. The rest of the tests are fairly easy. Not time-pressured.
Final: This test was harder than the midterms for the type of problems it gave, but they were definitely manageable as long as you knew the basic concepts. Again, not time-pressured.
Grading: The two common schemes most math professors use are available here as well. If you get unlucky with a midterm, you still have a chance with the other (which will be likely, given the nature of the midterms).
The professor is good enough that, if you do terribad in this class, it's either your fault or bad luck. 61 is basically just memorization of a bunch of easy concepts and the occasional difficult proofs.
My Final Grade: A-
Manolescu is a pretty great professor who taught this course very well. The lectures are clear and easy to understand. The only complaint I had about those was that he spend entire lectures sometimes going over a single example of using a certain algorithm, which is nice and all for learning, but it got really boring and useless pretty fast, especially since the homework gives you so much practice with those algorithms.
Speaking of the homework, the problems assigned were actually mostly quite easy, with a lot of problems just being easy examples that just take a long time to work out.
The tests are generally quite difficult. After the first midterm showed me that(median 28/40), and it became obvious that just doing the homework would not be enough to study for the tests. The second midterm was a lot easier (median 34/40, but I'm guessing because one of the TAs held a practice session for that one, and a lot of the questions he had on his problem set were actually the exact same as the ones on the midterm). While a lot of the points are free, just asking you to apply some algorithm or remember some definition very carefully, or are just rehashes of problems you get asked a lot (how many relations from X to Y are reflexive, symmetric, etc.), some require quite big brain thinking. As for the finals, it was the first math exam you have to take where there are some proofs you actually have to write out (which are pretty much always the hardest part of the exam), so one recommendation I have is to actually closely read the textbook's or the answer keys' proofs and think about about the kind of writing, logic, and strategies you have to use when writing something super rigorous and formal like that.
The honor class is small and there is a lot of personal attention, but you are competing with some of the smartest people at UCLA for a good grade. He is generous with the grading but everyone in the class probably got A's in their prior math classes. Only take if you can challenge the best students at UCLA. There are a lot of proofs on the homework, but thats expected of an honors class.
Ciprian is an amazing lecturer. He has a very clear thought process, articulates ideas very well, and can be really funny even when he doesn't intend to. I thoroughly enjoyed Math 61 with him. Had some trouble with material on the first midterm, but he was extremely patient and helpful at office hours. Second midterm was a life saver, final was not too bad. Ben Spitz was an incredible TA, offered many review sessions and was super approachable. Definitely take this class with Ciprian/Ben if you get the chance!