‘18.410: Design and Analysis of Algorithms’

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 194
Hours/Week 10.2 (57 responses)
Instructors Aleksander Madry, Virginia Williams,
Srinivasan Raghuraman  
Overall Rating 5.7/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • The content of 6.1200 and 6.1210, the current prerequisites, was a necessary prerequisite, but some people had equivalent prior proof/algorithm experience and knowledge.
  • The ability to write proofs was necessary.
  • Some knowledge of probability was helpful as well.

Subject Matter

  • Students thought the class was quite theoretical, while covering applicable and useful concepts.
  • Most enjoyed the course content, which provided a broad overview and foundation for different types of algorithms and algorithm-related math concepts.

Course Staff

  • Engaging professors and helpful TAs. The professors had well-organized lecture presentations and the TAs were very helpful in answering questions.


  • The lectures were useful and well-taught, with well-organized lecture presentations, but sometimes mostly covered background information rather than the main topics.
  • The lectures and problem sets were most helpful, but exam reviews, recitations, and notes were also useful.

Problem Sets

  • Fun and challenging.
  • Lectures as well as recitation materials were helpful for preparing for the problem sets. *The problem sets were fun and creative, and well-constructed and connected to the subject matter.
  • However, the problem sets were challenging, where the difficulty varied depending on the topic of the week.
  • Optional practice problems were additionally posted on Canvas..


  • The exams were considered relatively challenging.
  • The problems required some creativity. There was a high variance in exam difficulty between the two midterms and final.


  • There was a textbook for reference, but not very often used relative to the lecture notes.
  • The lecture notes were well-written, thorough, and wonderful. The recitation notes were also informative. The practice problems posted under the course resources were a good resource for studying as well.


  • Students felt that grading was reasonably fair and transparent.
  • The grading policy was flexible with two drops and three automatic extensions. Students thought the grading on problem sets was a bit unclear, but found exam grading to be fair.
  • Some students wished there had been clearer letter grade boundaries for the overall A/B/C/D/F grades.

Advice to Future Students

  1. “Use all resources provided. A lot more time than you think is necessary for PSETs.”
  2. “The lectures and professors are wonderful. The practice problems are useful and enjoyable.