All Ratings and Reviews for Panagiotis D Christofides
The most recent, and top upvoted review seems to be a bit out of date...at least during COVID, he consistently uploaded notes before and after lectures alongside uploading recordings of the lectures. So if you’re not able to attend lecture synchronously, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Besides that, that review was generally accurate: Christofides is definitely a master of his craft and he can actually teach numerical methods well, unlike the 102a professors.
His lectures and personality may be dry at times, but he keeps students engaged enough. He is really good at answering questions, and is willing to spend 15 minutes to answer a student’s question during lectures. His lectures are also very clear on what the numerical methods are.
Logistics wise, it was 5 biweekly homeworks (10%), one MATLAB project (10%) and two tests (MT/FNL = 30/50). The homeworks themselves were on the same level as the exams; if you can do the homeworks well, you should be able to handle the exams. They almost always require tedious number crunching and MATLAB coding. If you’re an experienced programmer, expect them to take 5 hours. If not, they’ll take longer. Fortunately they’re graded on effort.
That said, the exams are a big time crunch more than anything. It is more important on an exam to know how to write out an iteration of a numerical method than to know the concepts. Furthermore, you get a cheat sheet. On the midterm, you get one side of paper, on the final you get both sides. The only conceptual stuff that’s really tested is convergence speed, error, and convergence conditions/requirements of methods. Furthermore, old exams are a great way to study for both the midterm and final. Again, the exams are a time crunch. When you are given a question, you should immediately know which method to use for solving it. You should drill yourself for speed when studying for the midterms.
Project is extremely time consuming. It’s hard to put it lightly; expect around 20 hours on it. I myself spent 25 hours, and that was because I was lucky and coded both problems correctly the first time. Some people took well over 30 hours to do it. You have to code multiple 400 by 400 matrices. Also, you have to write a very, very long report, usually 20 something pages. You’ll be well served by knowing how to use mathtype and MATLAB beforehand.
At the end of the day, Christofides is really good at teaching. He curves the class generously. Our class bombed the midterm with a 74% average and a 16% standard deviation. Basically he tested us on shooting and finite difference methods even though we only learned it the lecture before. This didn’t stop many people from getting A’s in the class.
Standard Christofides. You had him for 109 and he's the same. He's very clear. No nonsense. You'll learn the material well, but it may be dry at times. Overall, more interesting than 109.
Solid class. My one and only problem with it is that Christofides is a bit behind the times. You show up, take notes on what he writes in class, and review your notes. There's no other resources in the class. No notes posted online, no list of stuff to review for tests, no real way to make up for missing a class or two other than office hours. Because of that, it's a harder class for a commuter like myself.
Still, it's more than doable. I did admittedly get a sad grade (seems like ~1/2 the class gets A's), but it's fine and really my own decision to focus less on this class. The class has weekly homeworks (10%), one MATLAB project (10%) and two tests (MT/FNL = 30/50).
Christofides is one of the better lecturers in the department IMO. He's really adamant about getting his very structured thoughts out on the board before anyone asks anything ("Please wait a minute!") which I sort of appreciate. You can tell he has a bunch of years teaching this class under his belt and knows what students are going to ask next and where the pitfalls are. He will legitimately have no problem reiterating the same point for 2 hrs if the class doesn't understand (No "We have to move on to cover all the material I had for you guys today" bullshit.) Though both the material and his personality are a bit dry, his teaching has enough quality to keep you engaged. He has strong familiarity with the subject and really knows his shit, and better yet, how to teach his shit. And I know from experience that a professor mastering their craft =/= a professor able to teach the stuff. Christofides is both!
The material is not hard. You study a bunch of tools that an engineer might use to solve problems that can be best solved using a computer (we're typically talking about iterative methods to build or solve equations). The tests don't demand a lot of your theoretical knowledge of how each method works--just crunch the numbers using one of the MANY methods taught in class with speed and precision. You can study the conditions of Jacobian convergence all night, but that might be worth 2 pts on the exam, max. Don't study so much as practice doing each method by hand--the exam is a time crunch. If you have to think before starting a problem (they're straightforward and even tell you what to use), that's not ideal. Being able to iterate the first 2 steps of a Jacobian problem is WAY better than knowing all the little theory facts about the Jacobian method, though the latter is still somewhat important.
Homework is slightly bothersome, but honestly the same amount of work as any other engineering homework... unless you have the past solutions sheets that are floating around. Project is similar, but still very time consuming any way you cut it... I'd say expect a ballpark of 12 hrs work to complete it honestly. The real bitch in the project is generating a Jacobian matrix for a fairly large matrix (>20 element dimensions). The rest is cake.
Overall, I honestly liked the class. The workload is reasonable, Christofides is a great lecturer, and the exams are very fair. Again, my only problem is that there's no book to read or online notes to download if you miss a class. Unless you have friends in the class, you're SOL. This can be helped by studying the stuff online if you know the general topics he taught, but a good portion of the stuff is obscure and hard to find good resources for learning online (really). The best advice I can offer is to religiously attend classes, ocassionally attend an office hours, and drill yourself for speed and accuracy to prepare for tests. The tests matter most. Get comfy with your calculator. 4/5
Christofides is probably the best lecturer in the department. He genuinely cares about his students and whether they learn, and he's willing to adjust his pace to what his students need to succeed. I wish he taught more courses, he's just a great professor.
Professor Christofides is great. His lectures are very clear and well taught. The exams are nothing different than what you see in class and homeworks, which explains why the average for the midterm was 92.
Only cons are that the final project takes up a lot of time and the homeworks require matlab coding.
PDC is the man. Slightly scary and intimidating but he knows what he’s talking about. First half of class is EZ just plug and chug. Second half you have to discretize which is slightly harder but he goes over it a lot so it’s no problemo. I say again he kinda scary so people don’t talk in class. Best bet to do well is just go to discussions where they go over past exams. One of the exact exam questions for final was done in discussion, many on final were similar to discussion questions.
Overall, he a cool man. Gives long breaks which in middle of class which I appreciate. Also, speak up. And don’t talk.
his lectures and homework and the tests are ok, just remember dont ever go to his office hour. He is NOT a nice guy to talk to.
It's very important to go to class. His tests are based only on his lecture notes not the book. Make sure you sit in front of the class so you won't miss anything important and that you actually understand the material he's talking about. Do the homework and pay careful attention to the lecture and you will earn your A.
I don't know why so many students feel his lectures are too difficult to understand. When I took his class, he spent most of the time pausing and asking us to think about what we had just learned before moving on. His main focus was our understanding of the material. Very nice guy. Highly recommend him.
In both the classes that I've taken with this guy, his lectures have been exceptionally understandable and enjoyable. He frequently asks the class for ideas and comments in hopes of trying to increase the understanding of the class. He is definitely one of the better Chemical Engineering professors that you will encounter at the school. I've never been to an office hours with him, but thats mostly because I walk away from lecture knowing 90% of what he talked about. His exams are straight from homework, and his homeworks come straight from lecture. Not hard.
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