This post is meant to be a reflection about the classes I took at UCLA this quarter, and a little bit about what’s happening next quarter. I took CS 1, CS 31, Math 33A, and Scand 40 this quarter for a major in Computer Science and Engineering.
Let’s start with fall classes.
CS 1: CS Seminar
The first thing about this class is that it’s a 9 AM, and I’m used to waking up a lot later than 9 AM. Eventually, I just watched the recordings instead of going to the lectures. Other than that, I liked the seminars - a lot of the topics were very interesting. I don’t have a favorite, but the ones that stick out right now are about Quantum Computing, Autonomous Vehicles, and Medical Applications. The discussions were less interesting, and they usually covered topics that would be on the homework. A lot of the times, the content would not be on the weekly quizzes. Overall, this class was decent.
CS 31: Intro to CS I
As someone who has no prior (real) programming experience (I learned a little bit of Python but nothing past functions), the majority of what I learned from this class was from the textbook and projects . The first few projects were straightforward but then increased in difficulty and time needed. A few stupid mistakes were made (not checking an obvious border test case, not including comments, etc.) but overall the projects were manageable in the end. For some projects, I thought I would score well but didn’t and for others, I thought I wouldn’t score well but did. I went into the first midterm expecting it to be fairly challenging, but it wasn’t even though I didn’t get a 100. The second midterm and final were much harder (especially the final) but there was probably a generous curve, so things worked out. Overall, this class had a bunch of ups and downs but turned out better than expected.
Math 33A: Linear Algebra
Math classes are a hit or miss for me: I either don’t spend a lot of effort and end up doing really well or I don’t spend a lot of effort and don’t do so well. This class was a bit of both: I started off doing poorly but got the hang of things around week 5. Up until around that point, I didn’t realize that the videos for each day were spread across a few pages, so I only watched the first video about each day’s topic up until a little after the first midterm. Some videos that helped me grasp some concepts of linear algebra are Blue1Brown’s Essence of Linear Algebra playlist (mostly Ch. 2, 3, 7, and 14). Most of my studying came from the homework and going through the review problems a few days before the exams, which worked well enough and I did fine in the end. I didn’t really spend much time on the pre-class assignments (basically mini quizzes) and some of the homeworks, which is something I would do if I took this class again. Overall, the class was enjoyable and I may probably go back and revisit some of the more interesting topics.
Scand 40: Scandinavian Literature
This is a class I should have P/NP’ed. The grading system was just too wack and I ended up needing a 100 on the second exam and final to not drop my GPA. (I did not get a 100 on the second exam and final.) The readings were really interesting, though, and I enjoyed all of them (except for the extremely long ones). Lectures and reading responses for each assigned reading felt like a chore, but the quizzes were easy if I did the reading and only slightly challenging if I didn’t. Overall, I might have liked this class more if the grading and exams were different.
This is going to be even less structured than the previous section, but it’ll have I expect from these classes.
CS 32: Intro to CS II
From what I heard, this is a weeder class meant to get rid of people who don’t have a solid foundation in CS. One of the projects has a really long spec (something like 80 pages?) which I will be looking forward to. By the end of the quarter I just want to be a lot more comfortable with what I learned in CS 31 and learn how to handle big projects efficiently.
Math 33B: Differential Equations
I might end up learning a lot of the content on my own from the textbook since lectures are at 9 AM. There’s also a 3Blue1Brown series on differential equations, which might save me. That is all.
Physics 1B: E&M
On one hand, I crammed for the Physics C E&M test back in 2019 in one afternoon. On the other hand, college physics actually covers important content. I think I have a good understanding of most of these concepts but there could be a few new things that might be challenging. This class shouldn’t be too difficult as long as I do the homework (hopefully).