‘18.085: Computational Science and Engineering I’

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 62
Hours/Week 11.6 (22 responses)
Instructors Pui Tung Choi
Overall Rating 6.0/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • There were no hard prerequisites for the class, but some students found that some background knowledge of linear algebra was helpful.
  • Many students said that having some programming experience in any language was a huge help.

Subject Matter

  • Many thought it was somewhere between theory-heavy and application-heavy. Some wished that the real world applications discussed were more relevant, though.

Course Staff

  • The professor and TAs were caring and very quick to respond to questions over email or in OH.


  • Lectures were fast paced and well-structured, but stuck very strictly to the lecture notes.
  • Some felt the lectures were not necessary because of this.
  • Most said they learned the most from problem sets, but lectures were still helpful.

Problem Sets

  • PSets were challenging, but fun for most students.
  • Students reported spending 4-10 hours on PSets per week, and tended to work in small groups.
  • Most of the content was from the lecture or lecture notes.
  • Many PSets included a programming component.


  • The exams were take-home, but many reported that they were very time-consuming.
  • Most felt the lectures and PSets appropriately prepared them for the exams.


  • Most felt that lecture notes were the only necessary resource to do well in the class.
  • Slides from lectures were also posted after class.


  • Students felt that grading was fair and transparent.

Advice to Future Students

  1. “I found this class to be very helpful with a good balance of time commitment to reward in the form of subject matter understanding.”
  2. “This class is useful for learning how to manipulate your coding language of choice.”
  3. ”If you have to take a math class, this one gets it done and I think I got an A (unsure because we have not taken final). But I did not learn a lot. I do not know if there are better math options so this may be your only choice.”
  4. ”Go to office hours! Review the review notes provided by the instructor! And try to get the instructor to tell you the real-world rationale behind each of the pset problems, as it may help bring you greater motivation to learn it.”