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 216
Hours/Week 10.6 (83 responses)
Instructors Zachary Abel (Lecturer), Nancy Lynch (Lecturer), Richard Williams (Lecturer), Brynmore Chapman (TA), Irin Ghosh (TA), Stephanie Hu (TA), Klara Mundilova (TA), Shyam Narayanan (TA), Nikhil Vyas (TA), Julia Wang (TA), Abbas Zeituon (TA)
# of Responses to Course 18 Underground Questions 20/216

Realistic Prerequisites

  • Basic knowledge of 18.01 is essential, but otherwise there are no serious mathematical requirements.
  • Knowledge of LaTeX is useful since problem sets were expected to be typed up in LaTex.

Subject Matter

  • Students felt that the course was theoretical and proof-based, but were somewhat applicable to computer science.
  • Some students came out with more understanding and perspective of algorithms, while other students didn’t gain much from the class.

Course Staff

  • Since the class was pre-recorded, the professors were not very involved and many students weren’t aware that there were professors. However, they were helpful in terms of answering Piazza
  • The TAs are helpful, understanding, and knowledgable, and are delighted to answer questions.


  • The lectures were pre-recorded; some students found them interesting and engaging while others did not find them useful.
  • The lecture content seemed to coincide with the material in the textbook and recitations.

Problem Sets

  • The problem sets were challenging; many students felt that the lectures were not sufficient for completing the problem sets. However, the textbook and recitation seem more helpful for the problem sets.
  • Problems tended to be fun, engaging, require creativity, and provide connections to real-life.
  • Working with others and going to office hours were very helpful for completing the problem sets.


  • There were 3 quizzes, which were set up similarly to the problem sets.
  • Students generally found the quizzes stressful and challenging.
  • The course staff released “lots of practice” for the quizzes. Students found lectures, problem sets, recitation, and practice exams to be adequate preparation.


  • The primary resource was the free textbook [Mathematics for Computer Science].(https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-042j-mathematics-for-computer-science-spring-2015/readings/MIT6_042JS15_textbook.pdf). Students generally found the textbook very helpful.
  • Students also used notes posted by recitation leaders.


  • Students generally found the grading transparent.
  • “For this semester at least, the grading cutoffs were set beforehand and clearly defined on the syllabus. They adjust exam scores upwards if the average falls below a certain point.”
  • “I like that the grading is split into a lot of different categories (so its not like one exam makes/breaks your entire grade). I also like that they provide a full breakdown of point distributions and stuff for psets/tests (after its due, however)”

Advice to Future Students

  1. “This class seems very intimidating but you’ll get through it! I had absolutely no experience with proofs or anything like that, and although the first few weeks and psets were a bit rough, the class definitely gets better!”
  2. “Work with other people and start early enough so that there are still office hours between the time you start and the due date.”
  3. “Think about the problem sets on your own for a while before getting help! Definitely the best way to internalize the material”
  4. “If you’re not already familiar with induction, pay attention when they teach it at the beginning. Almost every pset, if not every pset, will require you to write an inductive proof.”