‘18.650: Fundamentals of Statistics’

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 88
Hours/Week 11.9 (31 responses)
Instructors Philippe Rigollet
Overall Rating 5.6/7.0

Realistic Prerequisites

  • The content of 18.600 was a necessary prerequisite. Linear algebra (18.06) was a softer prerequisite, but very helpful to many students.

Subject Matter

  • Most students felt the content was mostly applicable and useful, but also extended into some theoretical content.

Course Staff

  • Very reasonable. TAs and professor were very helpful and thoroughly explained concepts, but didn’t just hand out answers.


  • Lectures were fast paced, but helped with review of the content later.
  • Textbook and recitation notes helped clarify the lectures, along with psets.

Problem Sets

  • Very challenging and sometimes tedious.
  • Lectures were good preparation for the psets, but sometimes pset questions were given before the lectures with the topics happened.
  • Some students spent more than 20 hours per pset.
  • PSets covered many topics, which didn’t leave a lot of room for practicing material.


  • Exams were challenging and computation-heavy.
  • Students said the exams covered almost all of the content of the course.
  • A decent number of students mentioned time pressure for the exams.
  • Some students felt underprepared in general, but said the lectures were the most helpful for reviewing.


  • The textbook was All of Statistics by Larry Wasserman, and the class stuck closely to the text.
  • Lecture notes were not provided, but recitation sheets were helpful.


  • Students felt that grading was not transparent, as cutoffs were not made public.
  • Some reported losing points on psets and exams without fully understanding why, and found grading somewhat nitpicky.

Advice to Future Students

  1. ”This professor is an excellent lecturer, but was too ambitious this semester. If he’s teaching this class again, check the syllabus and see if he’s trying to cover the entirety of a textbook titled “All of Statistics”. If so, choose carefully whether to take the class.”
  2. “Take the class on listener - you will learn nothing more from psets and exams and the grading is not transparent.”