Spring 2020 - Professor Netravali is a really intelligent and engaging professor. His lecture slides are clear and his presentations were very effective and to the point, not wasting your time with unnecessary fluff. He is passionate about what he teaches, and it's a shame he won't be teaching this course again for a while (due to research he's doing). The projects do need to be refined, though. The later projects are very difficult and ambiguous in various ways, and the translation from what's on the lecture slides to the assignment implementation is a bit rough. Understanding the concepts in the lectures, like Paxos, don't translate to immediate knowledge of it in code, and I felt like the discussion sections were not very helpful in that regard. Plus, they are deceptively difficult. You will read at the bottom of the spec that full credit will be given if all test cases in the code are passed. Seems simple, right? Well, turns out it's a lot more complicated. Just understanding those test cases, how they work, and how to make your code work with them is a challenge in and of itself. But you also have to pass those test cases consistently; each test case is tested 5 times during grading, and you lose almost half credit for a test case if it doesn't pass once out of those five times. This can be a problem if you have a slight mutex locking error (like I did) that means you pass almost every time when you test it, but not when the TA tests it. It was an important learning experience for me, I think, but it was nonetheless far from ideal, and the project spec could have been a bit less ambiguous about how to search for errors like this. I don't know about other students, but I personally found the single exam for this course (midterm in week 8, no final) to be a bit stressful and difficult. Considering we didn't have any practice questions to work with beforehand, anticipating what would be on the exam was a bit hard, and the exam turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. Overall, Netravali is a great professor, and you'll learn a lot, but be prepared to work hard and deal with a somewhat frustrating learning curve. The midterm and last few projects are nothing to scoff at.
Spring 2020 - This class was the hardest CS class I've taken at UCLA, but this may differ substantially for others, because I chose to go solo, instead of with a partner, on the distributed systems group projects, which themselves were quite intense. The material is intensely rewarding: I went in knowing next to nothing, and left being able to pick apart production systems that are in use today, so I think the skills that this class teaches you are truly invaluable, and I would recommend this class to anyone that has an interest in it, but be prepared, because it's not going to be easy.
Spring 2019 - The professor is definitely a good person, who is always trying to help us and support us, but not necessarily the class . I have never seen such a harsh grading on a 188 class, ppl who GitHub every project can get good grades, but if you really working hard to achieve something, you probably won't be treated fairly in this class. One Ta was amazing and my favorite TA so far, the other was the exact opposite who is the worst TA I have ever seen, who is gonna be a professor in some school soon, such a pity, why he needs to be a professor ? to educate ppl to be mean and selfish ? I actually developed a personal dislike toward that racist and bias person, we don't need ppl like him in our world, we are still humans. This class ruined my plan to go to grad school through the special program, now I have to leave the country and wait for one more year to apply for grad school. Biggest mistake I made was probably not Githubbing everything and playing the "game". Again, the professor is an amazing person, I have a lot of respect for him, but not the class overall.