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 Discrete Mathematics

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InstructorShai Simonson

Course Description | Lecture and Course Files | Student Evaluations

Quantitative Evaluation:

  1. Lectures:
    • Clarity of lectures: 7.7
    • Organization of material: 6.4
    • Willingness to help: 9.03
  2. Recitations:
    • Clarity of recitations: 7.8
    • Organization of material: 7.26
    • Willingness to help: 9.13
  3. Teaching Assistants:
  4. Michael S Allen
    • Clarity of TA explanations: 7.13
    • TA patience: 7.03
    • TA willingness to help: 6.73
  5. Dimitri Kountourogiannis
    • Clarity of TA explanations: 8.8
    • TA patience: 8.86
    • TA willingness to help: 9.06
  6. Overall course:
    • Overall course rigor and challenge: 9
    • Course organization and design: 6
    • Clear relationship to curriculum: 7.7
  7. Administration:
    • Administrative friendliness: 8.3
    • Administrative responsiveness: 8.9

Qualitative Evaluation:
For most of the class, month 2 was too rigorous, too challenging and at times too overpowering. A continuing trend from the last month is the division of the class into two different ability groups-one group which is familiar with the material and hence does well and the others who don't have a strong math background and hence are left behind.

The students were asked to evaluate not only on the program content but also the faculty and staff with whom they interacted.

Lectures (Shai Simonson):

While the students who were already familiar with the material felt that the integration of puzzles (such as combinatiorial card trick, chinese rings and towers of hanoi) added color, creativity and imagination to the class, others who did not know have a math background felt that they could have used that time to catch up on course material.

However, some of the students would have liked the lectures to follow more closely the structure of the textbook. Also, the trend of having lecture/recitation notes before class should be continued as it is very helpful.

Recitations (Tara Holm):

This month the students were divided on what should be the format and structure of recitations and how they should be conducted. Some students felt that the recitations should be used for covering new material or approaching the lecture material in a new direction. On the other hand, the others wanted the recitations to reinforce the material taught in the lectures and to be used for questions and answer sessions rather than covering new material.

Problem Sets:

There was general feeling that the problem sets were way too hard and too time-consuming. According to the students, a few initial easier problems would have allowed them to retain more course information. Most of them spent more time trying to understand the questions and very little time actually applying concepts from the class and absorbing new material. Even the TA's were unfamiliar with the problem sets. The class strongly felt that the problem sets should be designed to include some initial easer problems dealing with basic concepts before these sets get into hard questions.

Additionally, the problem sets had proofreading errors, material that had yet not been covered and questions that contained errors and were unclear.


Some of the students did not find the exams to be fair or helpful for self-assessment as they were tested on concepts, which they had not yet mastered. As one student put it “Mastery of tools takes some time and practice.” Like the problem sets for this course, clarity of exam questions needs to be improved.


The class found the “Discrete Mathematics and its Applications” book by Kenneth Rosen to be comprehensive, well written and an excellent book. Like last month, some students found the course-work (especially the problem sets) to be too consuming so as to prevent them from reading the text.

Relation to Computer Science:

All the students understood the applications of the course to CS.

Teaching Assistants (Mike,Ben,Ryan and Dimitri):

As usual, the TA's were invaluable to the course. The students voted Dimitri as the most useful TA. However, a few students felt that they were less available than the past months.

System Administration:

Similar to the last month, the major area of continuing discontent was the poor, slow and unreliable network connection. To quote one of the students \"The poor quality of the network connection and frequent crashes are really starting to get old.\" Also, students who at times work from home mentioned that downloading lectures from aduni web site is far from satisfactory.

Most helpful staff:

Dimitri, as usual, was his excellent and enthusiastic self. According to one of the students, “Dimitri is a natural teacher, whose maturity extends far beyond his years. He is quickly able to determine where you (the student) is at, formulate a very clear private tutorial on the spot, and explain basic concepts with great efficiency and clarity.” Along with him, Tara and Shai, as always, were helpful and invaluable. They both are terrific teachers and are willing to do whatever it takes to help students grasp the material. Shai, Tara and Dimitri were commended for their dedication, skill and sensitivity.

Future changes to the course:

Tone down the problem sets as well as improve the clarity of language of problem sets.

More mechanical practice problems should be included in the problem sets before moving on to the challenging questions that require mastery of basic concepts.

Problem sets solutions should be posted before exams so as to let the students be aware of their mistakes.

Lecture/recitation notes to be distributed to the students before class.

Solutions to problem sets and feedback to be more posted more promptly.

More time to digest the course material in general.

Use of conference room or any other room for group and individual work to be allowed as the computer lab tends to get noisy.

Improve network connection ASAP, provide students with aduni.org email accounts as well as correct the time on the student machines.

Some kind of formal mechanism needs to be implemented by the instructor in charge of the course for reconnecting the different ability class groups whereby the more able would help the less able students.

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Site last updated: May 14, 2013
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