‘18.901: Introduction to Topology’

Table of contents

  1. Course Info
  2. Realistic Prerequisites
  3. Subject Matter
  4. Course Staff
  5. Lectures
  6. Problem Sets
  7. Exams
  8. Resources
  9. Grading
  10. Advice to Future Students

Course Info

Class Size 43
Hours/Week 9.0 (22 responses)
Instructors Anthony Conway
Overall Rating 6.4/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • Experience with proof writing is helpful.
  • Some students thought that 18.701 was helpful for the group theory section of the course.

Subject Matter

  • Most thought the subject matter was theoretical and foundational.
  • The first half of the class focused on point-set topology and the second half focused on algebraic topology.

Course Staff

  • Very caring and approachable. The instructor was very responsive by email and helpful during office hours.


  • Most students thought that the lectures were clear and organized, and very similar to the lecture notes.
  • A few of the lectures were active learning sessions, when students would work together on various problems before the instructor presented the solutions. Students were divided on the efficacy of these sessions. Some thought they were helpful for building intuition while others thought that only the explanations of the solutions were helpful.

Problem Sets

  • Most students believed that the problem sets were easier during the first half of the course.
  • The problem sets for the second half of the course were more challenging and engaging.
  • Problem sets helped many students develop relevant intuition.
  • Collaboration on problem sets with people was helpful.


  • The exams were considered relatively straightforward, and there was ample time to complete all the problems.
  • Lectures and problem sets adequately prepared most students for the exams.


  • Many referred to the instructor’s lecture notes, which many thought were very detailed and relevant.
  • Some also referred to Munkres’ Topology and Hatcher’s Algebraic Topology.


  • Students felt that grading was fair and transparent.
  • Grade cutoffs were released midway through the semester, and exams were graded leniently.

Advice to Future Students

  1. “The lecture goes quite quickly for the second half. You might want to skim through the lecture note beforehand (because the rest of the class will be confusing if you get lost somewhere)”
  2. “Take 18.100X before taking this class; also take advantage of office hours / email communication with the professor (he will actually respond to you).”
  3. “Even if you attend lecture, go over the notes for some time to solidify your understanding of the material. Additionally, draw out pictures of problems to gain a deep intuition.”
  4. “The second half of the course can catch you by surprise if you got used to how easy the first half was.”