18.600: Probability and Random Variables

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 236
Hours/Week 9.2 (69 responses)
Instructors Jonathan Kelner
Overall Rating 5.7/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • The content of 18.02 was a soft prerequisite. Knowledge of multivariable integration is helpful.

Subject Matter

  • Content is generally more theoretical but there are many applications that can be seen throughout the course.

Course Staff

  • Professor and TAs were helpful and patient in office hours. Professor Kelner was understanding and eager to help students.
  • However, the course staff was harder to access through piazza and by email.


  • Lecture notes were posted and were very helpful.
  • Professor Kelner did a good job lecturing and making sure people understood.
  • Textbook can be useful but generally lecture notes and recitations were very helpful.

Problem Sets

  • Students generally spent between 3-8 hrs on them per pset.
  • Some found them to match up well with what was learned while others found that the topics covered in lecture were generally pretty surface level and did not help them complete the pset.
  • Recitations were good to see example problems.
  • Office hours and working with others were very helpful.
  • No solutions were posted afterwards.
  • Many people said psets were the most useful for learning the material.


  • Students found the exams to involve much time pressure, and were generally difficult and long given 50 minute exam times. Grade cutoffs lowered to acknowledge and accommodate for this.
  • Practice exams were found to be helpful to prepare for exams.


  • Resources included lecture videos and PowerPoint notes, an easily accessible textbook, recitation notes, and past exams for practice.
  • Some found the textbook a nice complement to lecture where some thought it wasn’t very helpful and was more aimed at those who had an analysis background.
  • One commenter found the Math Learning Center helpful and would very much recommend it for this class.
  • Many people found the lecture notes helpful.
  • Office hours were great and very conducive to learning.


  • Students generally felt that grading was fair and transparent.
  • Transparency issues come from lack of overall grading cutoffs and lack of pset solutions.

Advice to Future Students

  1. “Start the problemsets early, work with people, and go to Office Hours.”
  2. “Make sure to study ahead of time for the midterms! Kelner posts a ton of practice exams, and it’s a great resource to use. I used to go through most of these practice exams to learn the material better and just get used to the types of skills tested on the midterms. Also, working with others was also very helpful for me, especially to help me get through psets!”