Fall 2019 - So I know my review is pretty negative, so I'll start out with some pros. He wears the same snazzy chalk-stained black t-shirt, blue jeans, and jacket to class every day, has a New Jersey accent, makes a lot of anti-humor jokes, and bears a passing resemblance to the new Joker. Cons: The material covered in his class is far beyond the scope of 32A, and for me at least was very difficult to understand. His homework is also only very loosely related to the 32A material covered in the book required for this class, and is basically impossible to do without the help of TAs. I think you can gauge how difficult his midterms and finals are from what I wrote before (spoiler: they are incredibly difficult). Not gonna lie, this class was probably the worst experience I had during this quarter. If you do get put in his class, however, I would recommend that you try to switch out as soon as possible, that way you won't be too behind in the new lecture.
Disclaimer: I took 32A with Chayes (the 32A option didn't show). Lincoln Chayes is brilliant. His main fault is that he does not know how to convey that brilliance. I went to every lecture, and very rarely did I come out of knowing more than I knew going in. I was able to manage this class because I was lucky enough to get a great TA (shoutout to Will Rosenbaum. Side note: check out will rosenbaum.com for great review material). I would not have been able to do most of the homework if I hadn't gone to discussion and office hours. Will explained the concepts in an easy-to-understand way that Chayes could never do. The tests incorporated a couple of homework problems, but more than half of the problems used new language and concepts that had not been covered in lecture. I remember keenly a midterm problem that apeared on a homework set the following week. His tests have extra credit per se, in that there are a max of 120 points, but only 100 possible (235/200 for the final). There is always partial credit, so don't ever leave a problem blank. If you can take 32A and not take Chayes, you're saving yourself a quarter of extra stress and grief. He does have his entertaining moments, and he's a bit quirky (he jokingly pants during long proofs and wears the same thing every day), but he's too smart to teach a mostly freshman math class.
As a teacher, Chayes is awful. All he does in class are ridiculously in-depth proofs that you'll never need to know. I can literally count on one hand the number of example problems he did in class, and most of those were ridiculously simple and didn't teach you anything. That said, if you're capable of teaching yourself the material, his class doesn't have to be horrible. His midterms were pretty easy. The final, on the other hand, was soul crushingly difficult in comparison. Don't walk into it expecting a third midterm, because you'll screw up your grade. I should know; that's exactly what happened to me. Got A's on both midterms, ended up with a C in the class.
Over 50 students dropped out of 125 by the second midterm. His lectures typically did not cover material that was relative to help with homeworks or exams. The average on the first midterm was around 45/100 or something like that, absolutely ridiculous considering this math is fairly concrete despite it's inherent difficulty. If you are good at self-teaching then you have a chance. Thanks to this class/professor I am seriously considering changing majors.
he didn't teache anything at all. kinda went over some formulas that were in the book but sisnt't explain the, very well. the only people who got A's were the actiarial plan students that were able to teach themselves. the first midterm was deceptively easy, straight out of the book. the second midterm and final were a whole bunch of wtf?s
His midterms is tricky with a mean around 40's. 30 people dropped this class after the second midterms. The final is really hard. The book is hard to understand as well as the teacher. Take him if u're willing to self-study. Don't rely on him in understanding the material because he's so philosophical I guess.