18.212: Algebraic Combinatorics

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 36
Hours/Week 7.5 (17 responses)
Instructors Alexander Postnikov
Overall Rating 6.7/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • Proof experience and some linear algebra knowledge are very useful. The 18.701 prerequisite is very helpful.

Subject Matter

  • Students felt like the subject matter was largely theoretical and broad, but beautifully presented. Oftentimes there would be multiple proof presentations of the same problem, but combinatorially.

Course Staff

  • Postnikov is an extremely approachable and caring professor.


  • The lectures were very well-paced. The professor goes through a lot of examples in order to explain each concept, which really helps.

Problem Sets

  • Challenging.
  • Only three problem sets (posted once every 2-4) weeks. Needed to solve 6 out of 12 problems to get an A on the first two psets, 3 out of 12 for the last one.
  • Psets were very challenging but also rewarding.


  • No exams.


  • The course closely follows Stanley’s textbook on combinatorics
  • Postnikov posts his handwritten notes on the website after each lecture, and Andrew Lin’s notes are also available online


  • Students felt like the grading was lenient and the number of problems you needed to solve to get an A was always made clear.

Advice to Future Students

  1. ”You need to spend a lot of time thinking about the problem sets. The problems are not easy, but that’s why they’re interesting. Expect to be completely confused about what you should do for a while, but don’t give up. Keep on thinking about it and eventually you will solve many of the problems.”