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Disclaimer: subject to change
Professor Virtanen almost exclusively uses slides which he subsequently posts on the website.
TA Emmanuel Morales was very helpful and was willing to stay late during office hours to help people. He also would help via email. Some of the discussions are regular review and some are labs which can be very helpful for the homework.
Programming the World Wide Web, 7th Edition, by Robert W. Sebesta.
I never used it. I found that the slides and the W3Schools.com were more than enough.
6 Homeworks (30%):
The homeworks are more time consuming than difficult. Lowest score is dropped.
HW1 (basic HTML)
HW2 (styling HW1 with CSS)
HW4 (JS DOM with cookies)
HW6 (adding MySQL to HW5)
2, 4, and 6 were the longer assignments.
2 Midterms (15% each):
The prof sends out 3 previous midterms for practice for each midterm. Usually 3 or 4 multi-part questions.
An extra optional homework assignment (XML DTD) and 1 practice final are given.
The professor provides slides in lecture and posts them online later, which is helpful. Mostly, it is difficult to learn during lecture because it goes quickly; a lot of the learning is put upon the TAs (you have to get a good one). Homework is 30% and very manageable if you go to office hours for either the TAs or the professor. The two midterms are each 20% and are also manageable, but very tricky. He provides practice midterms, so definitely use those. The final is worth 30% as well. It's about the same difficulty as the midterms. He also provides practice finals (though not from his own finals). Overall, I had to depend on my TA for learning, and the class is A LOT of work and time and effort.
Virtanen was an amazing professor. His homework and tests were reasonable. You still had to study but come on this is college. I ended up with an A- even after getting a 76 on the first midterm, so do not worry if you bomb one test because there are two grading options. DO ALL YOUR HW ASSIGNMENTS, it's worth 25-30% of your grade depending on the grading scheme you use. I got 101% on the hw so that really bumped my grade up. So just work hard on the hw, he did mention some of the homework assignments on the final. Also, make sure to do all the practice exams he provides, they help A LOT!
Virtanen is a great professor. He teaches from the slides and is extremely helpful during office hours. The material can be kind of tricky if you have never programmed before, but he helps you. I came in with no coding experience whatsoever and ended up doing well in his class. He even gives you practice tests before the midterms and final. You don't even need the textbook, his slides are enough.
- Professor Virtanen is knowledgeable in the topics he taught in this intro to C++ computer programming course.
- He simplified many topics with various examples within the presentation slides and some computer program examples showed in class. (FYI: he’s a fan of The Simpsons, so many of his examples reflect that.)
- However, as simple as the in-class examples appear, you really have to put in the time to study because there are so many little things in the syntax of various topics (like vectors, arrays, loops, pointers, and more) that do matter when it comes to inputting/outputting info the way they should.
- Without understanding the syntax, the topics do become confusing pretty quickly, and it’s very difficult to write programs without many compiling errors, including the ones for the homework assignments.
- The homeworks are weekly computer programs you have to write up based on the topic at the time; best 8 out of 9 count for 30% of the grade.
- Syntax is also a key when it
comes to the two midterms and the final, all of which are written. Without comprehension, points will be hard to come by because syntax and input/output are vital to the grade, and without those being close to right, you won’t get many points, as was my case some of the time.
- However, the graders were known to be tough (according to Professor Virtanen), so it could be beneficial to see him and get some points back; he gives added leeway.
- 2 grading scenarios exist for tests: 20% midterm and 30% final; or 20% better midterm and 50% final, whichever gives better grade.
- As someone who struggled due to the lecture pace vs. learning the material, I recommend using professor and TA office hours, tutoring sessions and practicing sample tests – I received a decent grade with the added help and time.
*** TOOK PIC 40A and PIC10A ***
I took Professor Virtanen for two quarters (both PIC 40A and 10A).
I found PIC 10a to be pretty difficult in the beginning. It's similar to learning a new language, requiring time and practice to understand the basic syntax and structure. After the first few projects, the class gets relatively easier because you get used to the basics of C++. In terms of his projects, I would suggest not procrastinating on them because they require time and focus. Project grades depend heavily on the grader (I was lucky to have an easy grader my quarter who gave full credit most of the time). The last few assignments tend to be the hardest.
His exams are very accurate and comprehensive. Every topic covered in class is somehow represented in someway on his tests. His exams are pretty fair, ranging from medium to hard in difficulty. He is also pretty generous when it comes to final grades at the end of the quarter.
I personally found PIC 40a to be more difficult than 10A. There is a lot of information covered in a short period of time. While 10a is solely focused on C++, 40a covers HTML, Java, MySQL, PHP, and CSS. I found it difficult to jump between the languages and remembering all the rules and syntax for each language. I also found Pic 40a projects more difficult than 10a projects. A lot of self learning and trial and error is required because he doesn't have much time to go into depth on each language. Some of the projects require connecting two languages together, and it took me awhile to figure out the connection and relation between PHP and Java, for instance, in one of the projects. Exam wise, the level of difficulty and format are the same as PIC 10a - midterms usually have 3-4 long problems, and the final has around 8 long problems. Also, he likes to combine multiple concepts into a single problem.
Overall I would definitely recommend Professor Virtanen for any PIC class. He is very approachable and understanding. Lectures are concise and easy to follow, and he's always available via email or office hours for help. He's pretty passionate about coding as well, and is somewhat humorous.
I took PIC10A with professor Virtanen in winter 2015.
It was a great class in general. The C++ programming language opened a new world to me. It was interesting but difficult at the beginning, especially for those who have no previous experience. There were a lot of things to memorize, but once you learn the rules the rest becomes natural.
Professor Virtanen provides useful ppts that include all the information you will need. These powerpoints are fundamental of your study. Make sure to learn all of them before the exams! Even memorizing examples helps a lot. He has a lot of past exams in the testbank and he sends out some of those for practice. Remember to do all of them.
Homeworks, or weekly projects, are really time-consuming. It took me 5-6 hours on average to complete a project individually. TAs gave hints during discussion sections, and lab assistants in the PIC LAB were really willing to help. If you don’t want to rush on Fridays, start the project early, and create a draft of what you are going to do.
Midterms were fair, with more than 1/3 of the class getting above 90%. The final is a harder, but still, there were smart people getting above 90% :) I didn’t do a good job on both midterms but fortunately received A- in the end :)
Virtanen is an awesome teacher to have for your very first programming class. He lays it all out nicely and clearly and makes it easy to pick up. The material is a little difficult if you're not used to thinking in that mindset, but he makes it easy enough. The exams are long (it's hard to finish in time) and kind of stressful but in the end they are a great challenge. Highly recommend this class.
Virtanen is a great professor. Don't buy the textbook, his slides are more than you will need for this course. His grading policy is extremely lenient because he drops the lowest midterm, if that will help your grade. Homework grading is fair. The tests are grueling, but just study really hard. Protip: If you are using Visual Studio - TURN OFF AUTOFILL! It will sabotage your memory for the exams, where you will be expected to produce code from scratch.
If you want an idea about his syllabus and expectations - just go to his website. http://www.math.ucla.edu/~virtanen/
I really liked this professor, all of his tests were straight forward. This was my first experience with programming but the professor gives you all the resources needed. the midterm were kind of hard, but the professor provides a few practice midterms before every test. The final was really long and the hardest test. The professor is really good at responding to emails, usually the same day.
The best practice for the midterms is just working through all the practice tests over and over.
His slides are extremely helpful for the homework, NO REASON to buy the book.