So I’ve noticed that I’ve neglected my posting duties on my blog. I’ve also noticed that I’ve omitted and missed many things I would have liked to talk about, but unfortunately, I haven’t had the time for it. Now then, technically, midterms are over for me now, so that means another installment of WTF do I think of my classes and profs! Elation!
Of course, things are much different this term than in my first year. This has to do with my decision to leave the world of software engineering and fly under the flag of computer science and pure mathematics. Thus far, my classes are indicating that I made a very good decision.
MATH 237 — Calculus 3 for Honours Mathematics: Wolczuk
The interesting thing about switching from engineering to math is the fact that many of the courses you need to continue on taking are in fact courses that cover material you’ve already covered, except they are rife with theorems and proofs that you’ve skimmed over or handwaved over. Such is the case in calculus.
The two course sequence for most ECEs (this includes SE, Nano, and Syde; you’re all in ECE), MATH 117 and 119 covers up to and includes multivariable calculus (partial differentiation, multiple integrals, etc). This same two course sequence is stretched out to three courses in math (MATH 137, 138, 237).
The prof for this course, Wolczuk is the happiest man on earth. No, really. No one can be that happy at 8:30 in the morning — except him. He starts off every class with a little puzzle-y thing and throws in random jokes that you groan at, but is fairly hilarious. He’s a great prof and I’m glad that I decided to not go to my assigned section and that I even took this course this term, dropping CS 251 for it.
MATH 239 — Introduction to Combinatorics: Jao
As far as I understand, combinatorics is very, very relevant to computer science. I expected the course to be fairly interesting and one of the easier courses. Of course, since I’m basically doing easier courses than I expected, this course seems to be surfacing near the top of the difficulty pile. Still, not too bad. I also enjoy this talk about graphs and stuff quite a bit too.
Our prof, Jao, is fairy mediocre. He can speak English and without an accent, which is excellent. But he seems to like explaining how he teaches more than actual teaching. He’s not horrible, but he’s not the best prof in the world either.
MATH 235 — Linear Algebra 2 for Honours Mathematics: Celmins
Linear algebra was one of the things I hoped I’d never have to take again. It seemed fairly dull, and all it was was manipulating blocks of matrices. Of course, it’s slightly more interesting in the math context, what with having to understand various theorems rather than blindly row reduce everything as in engineering. Still, not my favourite class even thought it is ridiculously easy.
Celmins is a fairly interesting prof. He likes to go on tangents and tell us interesting things that he forgets he told us. His way of teaching is very fluid and can be hard to follow at times. Still, I prefer him to mechanical, static profs, since I can extract some interesting bits once in a while.
HIST 278 — The USSR and World War II: The Great Patriotic War: Statiev
This is a class that I chose purely out of interest. It was a huge gamble, since I had no idea how the term was going to turn out or how anything worked in the History department. In the end, it paid off. Here, I got a really interesting class about an influential moment in history that I was actually interested in (no, really, Canadian history is really not the most exciting thing in the world) and one with very little work (midterm, term paper, final) and a very good prof.
Statiev is Russian. This means he has a noticeable accent, but this also means that he knows his crap. He’s pretty interesting and understandable and throws out a few bits of hilarity. He really knows his stuff about Eastern European and military history. I wouldn’t mind taking another one of his classes.
CS 241 — Foundations of Sequential Programs: Becker
CS 241 is a pretty interesting class, especially following the work that I did over the work term. Ultimately, CS 241 is a course about how programs work on the computer. We start off with hardware level programming, with machine and assembly code. We work our way up into introductions to formal languages and language theory and through basic scanning and parsing, and by the end of the course, we write our own mini compiler.
Becker is a really good prof. He teaches really well. I think that’s about it.
CS 251 — Computer Organization and Design: Madavvat
This is a course that I really wish I didn’t have to take, especially after SE 141. Unfortunately, I still have to. I was enrolled at the beginning of the term. That changed when I realized that the prof was not very good and was not relevant to the assignments. I also realized that now that I’m in math, I can take courses in what order I want, when I want. Score.
Madavvat is slow. And has a heavy accent. No, really, ridiculously slow. Slow.