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
  11. Syllabus

Course Info

Class Size 201
Hours/Week 7.5 (83 responses)
Instructors Jonathan Adam Kelner (Lecturer), Pranit Nanda (UA), Jie Jun Ang (TA), Jonathan Tidor (TA), Roger Van Peski (TA)
# of Responses to Course 18 Underground Questions 20/89

Realistic Prerequisites

  • Necessary: 18.01/18.02.
  • Helpful: 18.06 for Markov chains, some exposure to proofs perhaps via 6.042, some basic probability/discrete math.

Subject Matter

  • Many thought the class was very applied, but some felt it was more abstract than expected.
  • Very foundational, broad, and useful.
  • The first few weeks were a review of basic probability. People with prior exposure found them slow, while others found them fast.

Course Staff

  • Students found the course staff caring and understanding (e.g. midterm was moved due to election).
  • TAs were helpful and responsive on Piazza.


  • Students found that the lectures were well-organized and engaging, contained helpful real-world examples, and connected to the psets.
  • Students generally found the class well-paced; a few students found it slow.
  • Lectures were asynchronous, supplemented by live problem-solving sessions.

Problem Sets

  • Students found the psets doable and fair, since the lectures adequately prepared them.
  • Many students worked with others.
  • Time spent on psets varied wildly. Some spent 3 hours, while others spent 12.


  • Students generally appreciated exam format and time given.
  • Most students found exam difficulty fair. Some students found the exams challenging.


  • The lectures were self-contained. Lecture slides were made available.
  • Most students did not use the textbook.
  • There was a class Piazza, and it was good.


  • Professor gave cutoff approximations after the second exam but prior to Drop Date.
  • Grading was fair and transparent (e.g. grade cutoffs for quizzes were given).

Advice to Future Students

  1. “Don’t underestimate the class based on the first few weeks. The class goes from 0-100. Don’t get complacent.”
  2. “Familiarity with writing proofs did come in handy and no guidance was provided in that respect, so it helped to have taken 6.042 before. Reading a chunk of the optional textbook definitely helped lower the mental workload when covering that material.”
  3. “Make sure you understand probability, you will see it everywhere.”


Click here for a PDF of this course’s syllabus.