Introduction to Programming

Michael Lindstrom

Introduction to Programming

Program in Computing department

Michael Lindstrom

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from 19 users

Ratings

Bad
Overall 2.7
Good
Hard
Easiness of class 1.9
Easy
Heavy
Workload 1.8
Light
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 2.9
Clear
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 3.1
Helpful
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Tags

  • Tough Tests
  • Participation Matters
  • Uses Slides
  • Appropriately Priced Materials

Grades

Spring 2017
20.0%
16.7%
13.3%
10.0%
6.7%
3.3%
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.

Spring 2016
20.6%
17.2%
13.7%
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
16.7%
13.9%
11.1%
8.3%
5.6%
2.8%
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 2015
16.4%
13.7%
10.9%
8.2%
5.5%
2.7%
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: Fall 2019 Submitted Jan. 23, 2020 Grade Received: C

Cannot stress this enough: READ THE ENTIRE REVIEW before you take this class.
TLDR: DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS.

Pros:
1. Pic 10B will be easier for you
2. Helpful in office hours
3. TAs are helpful usually (Swati Sharma was good)

Cons:
1. Almost everything
2. Curves according to his mood/preference. You have NO idea about your predicted grade till after the final. A 60% overall can get you an A- or a C+. Depends on him entirely.
3. (!!!) Grade bracket descriptions in his syllabus are COMPLETELY inaccurate (My percentages in HW and on the final were above the "usual" B+ grade bracket. He handed me a C with no explanation)
4. Weekly HWs are on steroids. Extremely challenging after week 3 and take 16h+
5. Exams are on steroids AND crystal meth. Extremely unnecessarily challenging
6. He is an asshole about any ways to improve your grade
7. Class pace is insanely fast. Very difficult to cope for someone with no prior C++ experience.
8. Syllabus covers MULTIPLE topics from PIC 10B. Far too complex for an intro class.
9. VERY strict about any collaboration in HWs post week 3. Uses complex algorithms to analyze all HWs and identify similarities. If you copy even 50% he WILL KNOW. Gave a "Deferred Report" to 4 students and launched an plagiarism investigation through the Dean's Office
10. Does not give a fuck about you. I submitted a HW file named "query.cpp" and got a 0 on it because he wanted it named "Query.cpp" (YES the upper case Q)
11. If you have a macbook, coding on your laptop is a huge pain. Will need to go to the PIC lab to do all your HWs and it shuts by 6pm.
12. Does not give any practice midterms or finals, so you go into the exams with no clue about the style of questions (and then get fucked lmao)

Please do yourself a favor, and do not take this class. There are hundreds of easier PIC 10a classes at UCLA. You might still end up with a A- or an A but I promise you, you will hate your life by the end of it.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Dec. 17, 2019 Grade Received: A-

Pros:
+ Approachable, cares about student learning
+ Frequent office hours (MWF, I think)
+ Answers questions promptly when posted to CCLE
+ No textbook required

Cons:
- Long homework (15 to 20 hrs./wk.)
- Very hard exams

Other Things to Know:
* Very strict about talking during lecture
* One homework due per week
* Exams (1 midterm, 1 final): Multiple choice, short answer, and fixing errors

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Jan. 6, 2020 Grade Received: A

Without previous programming experience, PIC 10A of Mike is definitely not an easy course for me. I spent almost all my free time on this course during the whole quarter and I was glad that it paid off! Although tests are designed to be hard (average around 40 or 50), you do not have to get 90 for an A. I got 80 on both midterm and final, full credits of homework and participation, and got an A. Homework projects are not hard as exams, so doing the harder exercise at the end of slides is important.
An A is challenging but definitely doable - as long as you are willing to put effort in it.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2016 Submitted June 13, 2016 Grade Received: A-

As a student who didn't have experience in programming before, PIC10 was not an easy course.
The first two weeks of material was easy, but don't underestimate the 1st mini-midterm on Week 3. Accuracy and exactness matters and a slight mistake costs you a point out of a total of 25. Plus, it is the easiest midterm out of 4 and there's a good chance that the result keeps decreasing every time so don't chill because the lowest 2 scores would be dropped.
Assignments were tough starting from the 4th one. (6 in total) It took me about 16 hours for assignment 4 even with the help of a more competent friend. Since the lowest 2 assignments were dropped from score-calculation, I didn't submit the last two assignments. Used the saved time to review instead.
Just a piece of advice: make sure you stick to the programming editor Visual Studio. Mac users could use Xcode for some practice but better do your assignments in the PIC lab (you can have 2000 pages of free printing there as well) because there are slight difference in the editors which the professor could take some points off because of it. (For example: in assignment 4, using "NULL" (used in X-code) instead of "Nullpointer" (used in VS) got me 1 point off (out of 12, which was so stupid given the long hours of work for the assignment.)
Class participation counts for 20% and if you attend every lecture then the 20% would be guaranteed. Answering 4 questions correctly in the in-class questions allows you to be absent once. So it's fine to skip once in a while because you could watch the podcast instead.
The grading scales in the course outline was a little bit terrifying. It says you get (at least) a C for scoring 77%, 86% for B and 95% for A, which would stress everyone out. However, he curves it and in the end I got 85% which is an A-. He fails at least 8% of students though. And 24% of students got C range. So it's not a course that guarantees good grade.
There's a group exam (you could choose your own group mates) for the final after the individual part that accounts for 15% of the final (assuming a higher score). It really helps you think again about the questions and really do learn from the exam as well as your friends. I like this part very much.
The professor is strict on absolute silence in lecture. Do not talk in his class. Evaluate his course on myUCLA because a higher participation rate leads to more information regarding finals. Checking his emails is a must because he sends some files through email but some on the course homepage (which is a bit messy in my opinion).
He encourages discussion on CCLE and answers EVERY SINGLE QUESTION. The TAs would also participate. It is very good for clarification of concepts and advice on assignments.
All in all, it is a good foundation C++ course and you could really understand the materials if you pay an effort.

Quarter Taken: Spring 2016 Submitted June 9, 2016 Grade Received: N/A

Do NOT underestimate the learning curve if this is your first CS class (as it was mine). As a STEM major, it is not like typical subjects where chapters are divided according to topic with minor overlap. The last 20% of the class material required a thorough understanding of the previously covered 80%. I.e. Do your best not to fall behind, because misunderstandings of a concept will later come to bite you QAQ.
Score Breakdown:

Homework (35%): Drop 2 out of total 6
Mini-Midterms(10%): Drop 2 out of total 4
Participation (20%): daily response form to his website
Final (35%): 85% individual, 15% groups of 4 (redo individual portion, together)

By far, this class required the most investment of my time/effort. Truly, it is not enough to simply read over the notes and homework answers and textbook. Writing the code yourself is how learning truly comes home for this class.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2019 Submitted June 3, 2020 Grade Received: A

The reviews for this professor does not do him any justice. I took PIC10A with him winter of 2019 and subsequently also decided to take PIC10B again with him. I had zero coding experience (didn't even know what "Hello World" was) and did fine. He is one of the most passionate professors I've ever had and if you're looking to learn a lot about programming and leave with a strong foundation I strongly recommend this professor. However, be prepared to put in a lot of work; it reflects in your grades 100% and I practically lived in the PIC lab lol.

Materials: Visual Studios 2019
Mike teaches entirely based off his lecture notes and they are available online. The slides are elaborate and informational and while they may seem daunting because of their length it covers all the relevant material. Homework assignments must be run on visual studios 2019 which can be a pain if you have a Mac but I just downloaded XCode and would compile on VS2019 in PICLab day before to make sure it works. Hasn't failed so far.

Grading:
55% Final
25% HW (2/9 are dropped)
10% Participation (if u attend 80%+ of classes it counts as 100%)

Homeworks take a lot of time because they thoroughly test your understanding on the topic. It's not something you will be able to get done last minute (or at least it'll suck real bad). HW 6/7+ took 10+ hours but I don't think that's completely unreasonable given this is a 4 unit class + we go over tips during discussion + office hours are super helpful + discussion forum.

Previous reviews may have touched on how difficult his finals are. Yes, he writes them so that the average is around 50-60% which sounds really scary but his reasoning is as follows:
1) he curves them so it doesn't harm overall letter grade and the grade brackets are dependent on how everyone else in the class is doing (doesn't mean he limits # of A's though!!!)
2) this allows him to better understand his students and how well they are understanding course material. To score 80% on a test with an average of 50% tells him a lot more than scoring 100% on a test with an average of 80%.

Lectures: Go to lecture/discussion. There are participation questions that count toward your grade and discussions often go over tricks to do the homework assignments.

General: He's a very "tough love" kind of professor. Everything is hard af but he provides practice problems, is very helpful during office hours, and responds to the 80+ discussion forum questions every week about homeworks. He expects his policies to be followed and has built-in accommodations (ie dropping hw) that allow for mistakes, which is why he isn't very lenient on deviations so if you follow them carefully you will be fine. While he does come off as condescending in the beginning, don't let that stop you from seeking help because he will always provide it. He genuinely cares about his students and want them to learn (made a LOT of accommodations for his PIC10B class during COVID-19 and BLM movements). He isn't hard for the sake of flunking out his students; rather he aims to challenge and build good coding practices. It takes a bit of getting used to but it really set me up for PIC10B and made me enjoy coding a lot more than I would've.

Quarter Taken: Winter 2020 Submitted April 11, 2020 Grade Received: A-

I am sorry that I cannot give Michael a higher rating... His rating should be around 3.5 if he doesn't keep the Canadian tradition of terribly difficult tests with very friendly curves.

If he ends up at UCLA CS dept I think he will be better off... PIC is really not a place where expert programmers go to.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Feb. 8, 2020 Grade Received: A-

Beginners beware. The learning curve is harsh and the class is demotivating. I wouldn't say don't take the class, but I do recommend you steel yourself.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2019 Submitted Dec. 25, 2019 Grade Received: C+

For context: I have never taken a single coding class in my entire life, so this was my first exposure to coding ever.

I don't think Professor Lindstrom is a bad professor. Personally, I didn't go to every class, and I certainly didn't pay attention to all the lectures. I think if you actually go to class, take notes, pay attention, and ask questions, you'll learn a lot.

My biggest gripes with this professor were:
(1) He covered material that other professors were nowhere near approaching. We were doing streams by the time other professors were wrapping up classes. It was ridiculous and felt unnecessary.
(2) He's a bit condescending. I went to ask him questions during office hours, and he looked down on me for my question. I admit that I really didn't know what was going on, but our encounter really intimidated me from ever asking him any other questions again.
(3) The homework were extremely time consuming.

Personally, I do not recommend taking this class with this professor. He goes very, very fast and a little condescending. But if you have some experience with coding already and you're a strong independent learner, you'll do fine.

Quarter Taken: Fall 2016 Submitted May 31, 2016 Grade Received: N/A

This is no easy introductory class especially if you take it with this guy, unless you have experience in programming His homework are ridiculously tough and always go beyond what were covered in lectures, requiring an absurd amount of time. The distribution of the class materials is also uneven. It started off so simple in the first few weeks but then the workload and class materials grew exponentially towards the end. The time given for the mini midterms were also nowhere near enough and the instructions can be unclear at times. This class stressed me out countless times. Would really NOT recommend taking it.

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Tags

  • Tough Tests
  • Participation Matters
  • Uses Slides
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
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