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So I was planning on taking EE 2 this fall, but given it was with Jason Woo, I wanted to avoid having to take the two worst EE professors in the span of one year...I think that's enough said.
In all seriousness, there were deep-rooted and extremely serious flaws with just about every facet of this class, from lectures, examinations, course organization and structure. Make no mistake, I don't think (?) that M16 /M51A is supposed to be a particularly easy class, but taking it with Professor Xiang "Anthony" Chen doesn't do you any favors whatsoever. ALL THE MAJOR INCIDENTS WILL BE DETAILED AT THE END OF THIS REVIEW.
With regards to course structure, the grading scheme (IIRC) is as follows: 40% HW, 10% Quizzes (2), 25% Final, 15% Midterm, 5% Verilog Design, 5% Participation, 2% Extra Credit. Obviously, with COVID-19 hitting around final season, our grading scheme got tweaked, and honestly, I will give Xiang "Anthony" Chen props for being the first of my professors to respond to the pandemic (cancelling lecture week 10, uploading recorded lectures, ended up making the final optional, etc.). Participation was really shady, since it was based off of basically a self-evaluation survey that he sent out, as well as Piazza participation. I didn't take the final, but I took the midterm, and if you didn't have access to old exams from Professor C.K. Yang (Xiang "Anthony" Chen basically stole Yang's exams and slides for this class), the midterm wasn't very easy at all. Homeworks were nigh impossible unless you had access to the solution manual, which to be fair a large number of students seemed to have in this class. For the verilog design, we only had two lectures devoted to the verilog, but honestly it wasn't that complicated of a task (and you could find the answers online anyways). Quizzes weren't too bad, probably the only exam (can't comment on the final) where you could legitimately work your way through and solve the problems with intuitive reasoning, even if you didn't have access to the solution manuals.
For lectures, he uses only slides, very rarely does he ever write on the whiteboard. Unfortunately, I'd say the lack of attendance in lecture was indicative of how effective this guy's lecturing was (there were entire empty rows in the lecture room). If he ever did write something, I'd have to take a picture because he would erase it so fast it was gone before you knew it, and I'd have to record whenever he answered questions in lecture since he wouldn't repeat the answers (more on that BELOW).
- In the lecture preceding the midterm, Professor Xiang "Anthony" Chen told us we'd only have ~1 hour 30 min. (IIRC), but during the midterm apparently we only had 1 hour 15 min. (IIRC). All I know is that he got the times mixed up, and we as students paid the price because he didn't bother to let us know. It was only when students were asking why their exams were being collected when they pulled that one out of the hat. Fair play mate you pulled one over us.
- When someone asked about his policy to weigh the midterm less (in order to give a chance to those who performed poorly on the midterm), he responded: "You can decide until Sunday whether you want the midterm to be weighted less. Oh btw we will not tell you your midterm grades so you'll have to make a decision without that". Bruh.
- As our participation was recorded with in-person contributions and piazza contributions, someone asked how our in-person participation would be recorded, to which he replied: "Your face. Yes, I will remember your face in lecture. No I will not be writing people's names down, no need for that. Also I'm sending out a google form, rate your participation in lecture on there".
- When someone asked in lecture if he could write down the answers to the questions written on the lecture slides, he replied: "No, I wasn't really thinking about doing that. You have to take good notes. Maybe a little bit later but I just don't have the time." Student: "Um...except you never told us what the answer was...and I still don't understand 4-D cube representation of K-maps". Professor: "Yes you should take good notes. Answer is clear, figure it out. I will not be writing the answers to lecture slides".
- For the Verilog design, someone on Piazza asked how would we know if our code compiled and ran correctly (regardless of whether it produced the correct output), and what editors to use. The response (from the person who provided the Verilog tutorials): "No compiler. My hope is that by teaching you the basics you can go apply your knowledge without the need for a brute force solution". Last I checked a compiler is used (mostly) to check syntactical issues, not give you the algorithmic solution...
I could go on, but that's besides the point. And to end on a good note, I do think he improved somewhat, especially after the midterm. The homeworks seemed noticeably easier (like he took mercy and decided to steal easier, less difficult homework sets from C.K. Yang) after the midterm. Did he improve enough though? For me, probably not. If you could take it with another professor, do so, unless you want your love for embedded systems to be absolutely pummeled. If you have to take this class, just make sure to get your hands on some C.K. Yang homework solutions if you want to be successful.
As a transfer student to UCLA I wouldn't expect ECE department to assign an unexperienced professor assistant for such important class like this. I loved the material of this class but this instructor made the class HORRIBLE. He didn't know what his doing and all he did was to upload lectures online and just put them on screen in class with absolutely no explanation. He didn't even put an effort to make his own hw sets, he just gave us one his colleges hws from few quarter ago without even changing his name, and obviously more than half of the class had the solution. Our midterm was way to hard with so many question and instead of having 2 hour of lecture time for the test we only got 70 min so no one could finish the test and when everyone complained the TA's said the instructor didn't informed us that you don't have the whole lecture time for midterm. Overall this class is the worst class I ever took in my entire life. My recommendation: if you see "X. Chen" listed for any class in ECE department just avoid taking that class even if you get behind for a year.
The class was alright. The lectures were a bit confusing. The material itself was somewhat simple but I felt the professor's explanations made it so much harder and didn't really talk about the important properties of the things we were studying. The problem sets were a bit long but they were helped me learn the material a bit I guess. We had 2 quizzes throughout the course which were both fairly easy. The midterm had many mistakes in it so even though I did not do too well, I still got an acceptable score. The final was not too bad.
Chen's lectures were so... frustrating for me. Honestly, the content of this class is not hard, but Chen made it 100x more confusing than it should be. If a concept can be explained in 5 mins, he'd spend 20 minute going around it, never get to the point, and end up confusing you completely. I tried to listen his lecture at the beginning of the quarter but then I just gave up and used the slides to teach myself (his slides are way better than his lectures lol).
Still, I think Chen is a nice person and you could tell he was trying very hard to explain things during the lecture. This is his first time teaching so hopefully he will do better next time.
This is the absolute worst professor I’ve ever had, for several reasons. When boiled down, it was clear that he was very apathetic towards putting work into the class, and was also just super bad at explaining content. Let’s go over the main points in detail:
1. Lectures are some of the worst I’ve seen at UCLA.
Straight up this man can’t teach for his life. The individual words he says make sense, but when you put them together into sentences it’s basically another language. His examples aren’t that advanced or anything, they’re just really incomprehensible if you don’t already know anything. I wish I could explain it better than that, but you really have to be there to see how TRULY AWFUL the lectures are.
2. All class materials are at least in some part from other professors.
Anthony basically copied all the homework sets and both quizzes word for word from professor C.K. Yang (with SLIGHT modifications in the case of the quizzes, but to be clear if you had the yang answers, you were gonna get 100% on both quizzes, they were basically the same questions). On top of that, I managed to find his slides from a Stanford professor, and though his midterm wasn’t an exact copy of Yang’s midterm, it borrowed several questions. It was clear that the only modifications made were made by the TAs. So basically, he didn’t do shit the entire quarter and was super lazy. I didn’t se the final since it was made optional for our class due to COVID-19, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he copied that too.
You could view this as an upside, and indeed if all you care about is getting an A, If you have the solutions to the hw and quizzes it’s not too hard to do so. (This could change in the future, and if it does, any students who take him again are fucked)
3. Class logistics were extremely disorganized
The midterm for this class was extremely unclear in its wording, confused the hell out of several people to the point where half the exam time the TAs were making clarifications, and want timed properly at all. To this last point, he gave us only half a class period to do what was clearly a two hour exam. On top of that, there was a graded “participation” section that we had in this class...of 100+ students...yeah that worked out exactly how you’d think it would. There was no accountability for how people were graded in this beyond him knowing your face, posting to piazza, and a self reported participation survey at the end of the quarter.
4. He favors girls to the point where it’s a little creepy. (Take this with a grain of salt since I don’t have any substantial proof)
Oh boy... where do I even start with this one. First of all, the man didn’t have scheduled office hours. They were “by appointment only”...yeah good luck getting one of those. I emailed this dude multiple times and never got an appointment. You know who I did hear got appointments tho? Girls. As far as I can tell, no males got appointments to office hours; now, I’m not going to go on the record and say he’s a creep, but don’t you think it’s strange that not a single guy got an office hour appointment but girls did? I could be totally wrong about this, but you could also kinda tell with his interactions with students that he favored talking to girls, which made me feel gross inside as a feminist...
The ONLY POSITIVE to this prof is that it’s super easy to get an A I’d you have the CK Yang material answers (be warned tho, just copying homework answers can take a while due to the length and difficulty of yangs hw) and his tests aren’t that hard if you have a good understanding of the material, which most the class didn’t bc terrible lecturing, as mentioned. Yes I know I said the midterm was too hard, but that’s because it was confusingly worded and poorly timed. I heard that the final was much easier than Yang’s final, and it seems that the exams he gave we’re just Yang’s exams made easier.
Tl;dr all the material (homework, quizzes) are copied, lectures are horrible, class is super disorganized, but it’s an easy A if you have answers. If you want to learn something, don’t take him. Actually, just don’t take him at all, the A wasn’t worth the bullshit I had to go through.