Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata Theory

Michael Campbell

Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata Theory

Computer Science department

Michael Campbell

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Ratings

Bad
Overall 3.3
Good
Hard
Easiness of class 3.1
Easy
Heavy
Workload 3.7
Light
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 3.0
Clear
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 3.3
Helpful
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Tags

  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Engaging Lectures
  • Useful Textbooks
  • Often Funny

Textbooks

Textbook listings are currently unavailable for this course.

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Grades

Spring 2017
23.8%
19.8%
15.8%
11.9%
7.9%
4.0%
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.

Spring 2016
15.9%
13.2%
10.6%
7.9%
5.3%
2.6%
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.

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Reviews

Quarter Taken: Spring 2019 Submitted June 14, 2019 Grade Received: A

This class was very interesting! I came in knowing nothing but ended up enjoying it a lot. Campbell isn’t always the clearest during lecture but he cares A LOT and exudes friendly grandpa vibes. As long as you have a good TA you’ll be ok! Weekly homeworks only take an hour or two, and exams are fair. Be sure to try the practice problems from the book as some of them are directly put on the exams!

Quarter Taken: Spring 2019 Submitted June 24, 2019 Grade Received: B+

I am writing this review just because after reading some of the reviews below, I felt the need to say Professor Campbell is a great educator with a genuine passion and interest in teaching the content and making sure we learn it. I thoroughly enjoyed this class.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2019 Submitted June 23, 2019 Grade Received: A

I liked taking this class with Campbell. Workload is pretty light with just a homework assignment due every week. Tests are fair and usually have questions in similar form to but harder than in the homeworks. Midterm average was around a 75.

Campbell's lectures can be a bit slow as he usually stops to answer a lot of questions from students. He tends to get behind schedule, but is still able to cover everything he means to test on. Campbell is by no means terrible - I don't know why some reviewers seem to vehemently hate him - but his pacing or style may not be suited to some people. If the material seems difficult, it helps to read Sipser before lectures to get an understanding. Sipser tends to be more long-winded and has a lot of long proof examples that may be helpful in your understanding of the concepts but are not necessary to this course.

Campbell doesn't demand too much from students in the way of content and is very generous about what he tests on. You don't have to memorize any tedious proofs like proof of equivalence for various models or proof of the pumping lemmas. Questions are much more about applying what you've learned to new languages/models rather than repeating memorized definitions. Even with Turing Machines - the hardest model we cover - you only have to understand some of their properties rather than constructing or interpreting any on exams.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2019 Submitted June 23, 2019 Grade Received: A

Campbell's effort and caring about his teaching is evident, but it is unfortunately ineffectual.

My friends who have taken Campbell this or past quarters come from a range of academic backgrounds and academic performances, and they all agree that Campbell is a poor educator. I found myself that Campbell takes 2 hours to explain what others explain in 20 minutes. Maybe it's because the subject is difficult. But Sipser's textbook is written very clearly and so are Youtube videos, from Indian educators to Stanford Lagunita.

Campbell tries to engage students, but it has proved counterproductive to some students, including me, who learn from the much clearer resources outside of class. Many of my friends who pay attention in class say Campbell should stop teaching for the sake of his students! Happily, Campbell's poor teaching helps students who don't learn from him to excel; students who attempt to pay attention are often so lost that they perform poorly on homework and exams! One of my friends, who has a slightly higher GPA than me, has paid attention and taken notes all quarter, but received 30 points less than I did on the midterm.

To improve, Campbell should learn from Khan Academy, Stanford Lagunita, MIT OCW, Professor Sherstov, Professor Sahai, the late Professors Feynman and Lewin, and Sipser's textbook to deliver clear explanations. Practicing teaching is well and good, but taking attendance gives the deceptive perception that his teaching actually helps his students' learning. Or he should really really for the sake of his students, just please please stop trying, because it's honestly painful to learn from him and it's painful to see such an excellent professor try and fail over and over again.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2019 Submitted June 18, 2019 Grade Received: B+

Campbell made this class awful. Not sure why he got rated so highly but my friends and I all heavily disliked him. He didn't have anything organized and was horrible at teaching. He also made students pay for Tophat and didn't even use it. He constantly went off topic. I hated this class.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2019 Submitted June 16, 2019 Grade Received: N/A

Campbell's a nice dude who really cares about his students. Homeworks are pretty straightforward and short. If you understand the concepts well they shouldn't take much time at all. Tests are fair, he'll say ahead of time what kinds of questions he'll have and makes them similar problems to the homework. He throws in a couple difficult questions to differentiate the "A+" students but everything else is very doable. You also don't have to memorize any complicated proofs for tests.

Overall I really enjoyed this class. Campbell is a great professor and very friendly (he brought cookies to exams for us), even though he can ramble sometimes. Definitely worth taking 181 with him.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2017 Submitted Oct. 2, 2017 Grade Received: A

Okay lecturer, sometimes funny, but didn't know his material very well. Made occasional mistakes in class that took a long while to correct, thus slowed down the pace and didn't finish the syllabus. A patient explainer but repeats himself a lot, could have been more precise, rigorous and less verbose and figurative given the math nature of this course. Homework is not bad, somewhat innovative, medium difficulty, and entirely based on lectures, and exam is guaranteed to be covered in homework, so not much pressure. Midterm was easy but final was really hard (because lecturer didn't like students getting perfect scores) . Overall I didn't walk away feeling I've learned as much as I expected, so I wouldn't recommend it to those who wish for a deeper understanding of automata and computation than just intuition and a few memorized conclusions.

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Tags

  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Engaging Lectures
  • Useful Textbooks
  • Often Funny

Textbooks

Textbook listings are currently unavailable for this course.

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Bruinwalk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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