EECS16B, Designing Information Devices and Systems II

Spring 2022


Course Info

The EECS 16AB series (Designing Information Devices and Systems) is a pair of introductory-level courses introducing students to EECS. The courses have a particular emphasis on how to build and understand systems interacting with the world from an informational point of view. Mathematical modeling is an important theme throughout these courses, and students will learn many conceptual tools along the way. These concepts are rooted in specific application domains. Students should understand why they are learning something.

An important part of being a successful engineer is being able to identify the important and relevant structure in a complex problem while ignoring minor issues. EECS 16A focuses on modeling as abstraction: how can we see the relevant underlying structure in a problem? It introduces the basics of linear modeling, largely from a "static" and deterministic point of view. EECS 16B deepens the understanding of linear modeling and introduces dynamics and control, along with additional applications. Finally, EECS 70, (which can be thought of as the third course in this sequence—except without any labs), introduces additional discrete structures for modeling problems, and brings in the language of probability to complement the linear-algebraic language developed in EECS 16AB.

Both courses utilize this modeling and design-driven perspective to train students to tackle complex design problems with systematic and modular/hierarchical thinking—from basic circuit components to full sensor + processing systems implementing sophisticated processing and control algorithms. Learning from data is an important part of both courses.

Note that the policies below apply to EECS 16B students, not necessarily students in EECS 47E. For students in EECS 47E with policy-related questions or concerns, please email

Grade Breakdown

Our objective is to help you become the best engineer you can be. Grades are not everything. The various components of the class—homework, labs and exams—are designed explicitly with this in mind. Every challenge is a growth opportunity. You will have the opportunity to gain points in the course through completing your homework and attending labs as well as through the exams.

This course is not graded on a curve. We have set absolute thresholds for performance that will map to grade boundaries. We encourage you to discuss the course material with each other and teach each other new ideas and concepts that you learn. Teaching the material is one of the best ways to learn, so discussing course material with colleagues in the class is a win-win situation for everyone. Grades are not everything, far from it, but that said, here is the breakdown for grading for this class.

Category Points (out of 300)
Participation / Professionalism 10 points
Homework 50 points
Labs 80 points
Midterm 70 points
Final 90 points

Notice that you can get many points by being regular with your homework and the labs. Our goal is to help you learn the material as best as possible!

Grading Scale

The course will use the following grading scale (in percentages):

A [93+) A- [88+)
B+ [84+) B [75+) B- [68+)
C+ [65+) C [62+) C- [58+)
D+ [57+) D [55+) D- [53+)
F [0-, 53)

Note that if you choose P/NP grading you must get a C- or above to be able to pass the class. If you take the class for a letter grade, you must get a D- or above to pass.

In the rare event that the instructors deem that a change needs to be made for a given exam, then you will be told where the grade boundaries are for that exam and how to adjust your score on the exam to get your points on the above scale. You will always know how you are doing in the course grade-wise.

Good Citizenship and Professionalism

The classroom is a professional environment, and we expect that students treat each other and staff with respect. Any rude, dishonest, unhelpful, or otherwise unprofessional behavior within the fora of the course — be it in-person or online; be it discussion, lecture, Piazza, Discord, homework party, or office hours—will result in negative points in the respective grade category. For instance, gross misconduct in office hours may result in negative points to your Participation category.

Exam "Second Chance" Policy

This course spans a fairly broad set of ideas and concepts within a short period of time; hence, consistent, sustained effort and investment are critical to your success in this class. The most common operating mode we have observed in previous students who struggled and/or failed this class was attempting to do the bare minimum and then catch up/cram right before the exams.

In order to formally encourage all of you to maintain the sustained effort that we have observed to be critical to success, we have the following policy regarding exam clobbering, participation, and effort: Specifically, for students who (1) complete an optional midterm redo and submit it before its deadline, and (2) perform better on the final than on the midterm, we will provide them the opportunity to substantially replace their midterm grade with their final grade.

If you qualify for the second chance policy (i.e. (1) and (2)), you may replace your midterm score with your scaled score on the final exam according to the formula below.

Effective grade on midterm = max(% on midterm, % on final - 5%)

This essentially allows you to replace your midterm grade by a higher grade if you show improvement on the final—we want to reward improved performance. Note that you MUST take the midterm to qualify for this policy. Skipping the midterm entirely is NOT permitted.

Student Support

Homework (HW) Parties are your chance to meet and interact with other students, while also having the chance to get help from (u)GSIs, tutors and faculty. This is your chance to have a social experience as part of the class. As mentioned earlier, we expect students to treat each other with respect during homework parties as well as during all other parts of the class, including interactions on Piazza, discussion, and office hours. Remember that each of you is coming into the class with different experiences and backgrounds—use this as an opportunity to learn from one another. Students are expected to help each other out during HW party, and if desired, form ad-hoc "pickup" homework groups in the style of a pickup basketball game. Collaboration is an essential, symbiotic skill for any engineer; to these ends, in a homework party we will only answer homework-related questions coming from a group.

This semester, HW Party will be held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (either in Cory 144MA or the Wozniak Lounge). Attending the HW Party is highly encouraged and is a great way to find a study group, although we will be facilitating study group formations through a separate process for those interested.

To provide accommodations for student who prefer the remote medium during these uncertain times, we will run HW Party in parallel on Discord at some of the same times, although we strongly encourage our students to attend HW Parties in-person (if they are comfortable and able to) where they can get the most out of the collaborative experience.

For the remote instructional period during the first few weeks of the Spring 2022 semester, homework parties will be fully on Discord.

Conceptual Office Hours are your opportunity to clarify any content-related or administrative questions. However, we will not be answering homework questions in these office hours. Our staff will try their best to instill independent thinking by strengthening your learning habits and techniques necessary in tackling not only EECS 16B, but also any future course, project, or internship.

Like Homework Party, we will offer remote office hours in parallel with in-person office hours through the Office Hours Queue tool (

For the remote instructional period during the first few weeks of the Spring 2022 semester, office hours will be fully on the OH Queue tool.

Piazza is the place to ask any other course-related question (administrative, content clarifications) in its respective thread or privately, although we will not be supporting any lab debugging questions on Piazza. We elaborate further in the Course Communication section.

Study Group Formation and Expectations

Course staff will be facilitating the formation of study groups this semester—we will make a Piazza post with the complete information. Our goal is to make sure that everyone who wants a study group can have one where they are treated professionally and expected to behave as such.

Homework Submission

The high-level timeline for submitting homework is as follows. Details on the individual components are further down this page.

  1. Turn in a .pdf file to Gradescope consisting of your written-up solutions and a pdf “printout” of any .ipynb code (if applicable). Homeworks are due on Friday night at 11:59 PM Pacific Time.
  2. After solutions are released, complete a self grade for your homework submission. Self grades are required to get credit for the homework and are due one week after the Friday PDF deadline at 11:59 PM.
  3. [Optional] If you skipped any questions or did not receive full credit for them, submit a resubmission to make up some of this missed credit. Resubmissions are due at the same time as self grades. If you choose to do a resubmission, you must submit a resubmission self grade.
  4. If you submitted a resubmission, submit a resubmission self grade to receive credit for the resubmission work. Resubmission self grades are due at the same time as regular self grades.

PDF Submission (step 1)

This is your typical “doing the homework” component of submitting a homework assignment. Neatly write out your solutions to questions or typeset them using LaTeX. If the assignment involves any coding in iPython, convert your iPython notebook to a PDF and concatenate it to your homework submission. Then submit one PDF with all your work to Gradescope.

Once you’ve submitted your PDF, you must select the relevant pages for every problem on Gradescope - any problems without pages selected will receive zero credit. Any coding questions that do not have the corresponding pages of your code “printout” selected will receive zero credit. If you have any questions about the format of a homework submission, please go to HW party or ask on Piazza.

Self Grades (step 2)

After the HW deadline, official solutions and a self-grading form will be posted online. You will then be expected to read the solutions carefully and enter your own scores and comments for every part of every problem in the homework into the self grade form on the following scale:

Score Reason
0 Didn't attempt or very very wrong
2 Got started and made some progress, but went off in the wrong direction or with no clear direction
5 Right direction and got halfway there
8 Mostly right but a minor thing missing or wrong
10 100% correct

You must justify self-grades of 2, 5 or 8 with a comment. Grades of 0 and 10 do not need to be justified. If you are really confused about how to grade a particular problem, please post on Piazza. This is not supposed to be a stressful process.

Your self-grades will be due the Friday following the homework deadline (the week after) at 11:59 PM sharp. We will further accept late self-grades up to a week after the self-grade deadline for 75% credit on the associated homework assignment. If you don't enter a proper grade by this deadline, you will receive a zero on that assignment.

Resubmissions (optional, step 3)

We understand that sometimes work from other classes, midterms or your personal life can come in the way of making a homework deadline. For this reason we will allow you to resubmit your homework for 40% credit. You can complete a resubmission regardless of whether or not you submitted the original assignment.

A resubmission can involve you redoing as much or as little of the homework as you see fit (meaning you do not have to redo all of the problems), but any subpart you choose to resubmit must be redone from scratch - do not pick up where you left off in the original submission.

Unlike original PDF submissions, all homework resubmissions must be handwritten (except for any coding portions). Scan and upload your resubmission as a PDF just like you would for a regular submission (but be sure to submit to the resubmission assignment).

What does 40% credit mean? Let us say you only were able to get halfway through a problem during the first submission. You submitted your homework on Friday, and while going through the solutions you figured out how to do the whole problem. Your self-grade for your first submission would be a 5/10. However, you can resubmit the homework problem with a fully correct solution and receive 40% of the remaining points as extra points, i.e. (10-5) * 40/100 = 2 extra points, and so your score for the problem would go from 5 points to 7 points.

Resubmission Self Grade (optional, step 4)

If you submitted a resubmission, you must submit a resubmission self grade to receive credit for it. In this self grade, give yourself a zero for any work you did not redo, even if you completed the problem in the original submission. For any subpart you did redo, self grade that subpart normally (that is, ignore the 40% scaling for resubmissions or the fact that you may have also attempted the problem in your original submission).

We will calculate all of your resubmission point gain with the 40% credit policy when we calculate your homework grade; no need to do it in your self grade.

Homework Grading Scheme

After the homework deadline has passed, a subset of the homework problems will be graded by our readers, who will send you occasional comments and feedback. The grade you receive from the readers on this subset of problems is not your grade for the entire assignment. Your grade will instead be calculated primarily using your self grades, as outlined in the diagram below.

Reader grades will be released on Gradescope about one week after the homework deadline. Homework regrade requests are typically due on Gradescope within 72 hours of reader grades being released. If a regrade request is submitted for a part of a question on the homework, the grader reserves the right to regrade the entire homework.

Because we have reader grades, we will catch any attempts at trying to inflate your own scores. This will be considered cheating and is definitely not worth the risk. Your self grades will be used in computing your final grade for the course, adjusted by taking into account reader scores so that everyone is fairly graded effectively on the same scale. For example, if we notice that you tend to give yourself 5’s on questions where readers looking at your homeworks tend to give you 8’s, we will apply an upward correction to adjust.

If your final score (after resubmission and any other corrections are applied) on any homework is at or above 8/10, your grade will automatically be bumped up to 100% (10/10). If your final score is less than 8/10, it will be scaled linearly, so a 6/10 will result in 6/8, or 75% (effectively 7.5/10).

The overall formula for calculating your homework grade is given below.

*Note that we treat the “infinite” ratios (Raw Self-Grade for Selected Problem = 0) as 1.

Homework Accommodations & Exceptions

We will provide homework extensions for students who have letters of accommodation from DSP services; these accommodations will be handled on a case-by-case basis. If you need to request an extension for another extenuating circumstance (such as illness or a family emergency), please be prepared to provide appropriate documentation.

We will automatically drop the lowest homework score from your final grade calculation. This drop is meant for emergencies. If you use this drop half-way into the semester, and request another, we cannot help you.

In addition to the one-drop policy, we will grant every student ONE extension regardless of the reason. We know life gets in the way of some of your commitments, so we want you to have this flexibility if and when needed; this should be saved for emergencies. This extension requests are reserved for regular homework submissions only. If you are granted an extension on your regular homework submission, the extension also applies to your self-grade and resubmission assignments. You must submit the extension request prior to the homework deadline for it to be approved. All other extension requests will require appropriate justification and documentation to be approved, and may be applied retroactively on a case-by-case basis.

Common Homework Policy Mistakes

This homework grading process is intended to give you as many opportunities for credit as possible, but we know that homeworks have many moving parts as a consequence. The following is a list of easy mistakes to make when submitting your homework and our policies on them. Please read this section to avoid these common pitfalls!

Problem: I forgot to submit my self grade.
Solution: Submit your self grade within 1 week of the original deadline for 75% credit. No late credit is given for resubmission self grades.

Problem: I submitted a resubmission self grade to a regular self grade assignment (or vice versa), and my autograder failed.
Solution: The self grade autograder fails in these scenarios on purpose to give you a chance to catch this mistake. Be sure to check that your autograder ran successfully when submitting a self grade, as we won’t be granting credit for that component of a homework in the event it doesn’t.

Problem: I didn’t select pages when I submitted my assignment. How can I receive credit?
Solution: Do not attempt to reselect pages after grading has begun - Gradescope won’t let you. Instead, after scores are released, submit a regrade request for any subpart where you forgot to select pages. In your regrade request, you must tell the reader which specific page of your submission they should reference to find your work. Submit a separate regrade request for each subpart where this applies. We reserve the right to stop giving credit for this mistake at any point throughout the semester, so please remember to select your pages when submitting.

Homework Effort Policy

Because the point of homework in this class is to help you learn, not to punish you for making small mistakes, if your final score (after resubmission and any other corrections are applied) on any homework is at or above 8/10, your grade will automatically be bumped up to 100% (10/10). If your final score is less than 8/10, it will be scaled linearly, so a 6/10 will result in 6/8, or 75% (effectively 7.5/10).

Discussion Section Policies

Discussion is a key component to learning the material in this class, and to keep you motivated and on track you can earn points towards your grade by attending discussion.
Participation is worth a maximum of 10 points. To earn this in full, you must attend at least 16 discussions. To measure attendance, we will have the following system in place: when you attend a discussion section, your TA will give you a password to input into a checkoff Google Form associated with their section. Credit will only be granted for checkoff forms submitted before the end of the next day. If you do not get full credit, your grade will be prorated by the number of discussion checkoffs you complete; e.g., if you attend (watch) 14 discussions or complete 14 checkoffs, you will have 14/16 * 10 = 8.75 points in this category.

This semester, discussion will be offered primarily in-person; there will be one online, recorded offering over Zoom in the evenings.

For the remote instructional period during the first few weeks of the Spring 2022 semester, all discussions will be remote over Zoom.

Ways to check discussion attendance will be posted on Piazza on a later date.

Lab Policies

For all lab policies, please see the lab syllabus, which includes information on lab grading, logistics, schedule, and more.

Exam Policies

We will have one midterm and one final. The midterm will be held on Monday, March 14, from 7-9 pm Pacific Time. The final will be held on Friday, May 13, from 7-10 pm Pacific Time.

Makeup exams will not be scheduled. No alternate exams will be offered due to class conflicts, particularly for the final. In general, alternate exam times will NOT be provided. Alternate exams will not be provided for students who have scheduled classes with time-conflicts. Please contact us privately if you have any concerns.

Please plan for exams at these times. In case of an emergency on exam day, please email as soon as possible and provide details of the issue as well as a contact phone number. Emergency exam conflicts will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Exam conflicts originating from a lecture conflict will not be accommodated.

Exam regrade requests on Gradescope are typically soon after exam scores are released on Gradescope. Late regrade requests will not be considered. If a regrade request is submitted for a part of a question on the exam, the grader reserves the right to regrade the entire exam and could potentially take points off.

Proctoring During Exams

The exams are planned to be in-person on the Berkeley campus at those times. These will be closed-book exams with a specified number of pages of handwritten, not tablet-generated “cheat sheets” permitted. For the midterm, you will be permitted one 8.5 by 11 inch cheat-sheet, double-sided; for the final, you will be permitted three 8.5 by 11 inch cheat-sheets, double-sided.

Adjustments will be made at our discretion for students who have or need medical accommodations in order to maintain safety for those students and in-person exam takers. If a student is ill, under no circumstances will they be forced or asked to take the exam in-person.

Exceptions and DSP Accommodations

Any requests for homework-related exceptions should go through the Homework Exceptions Google Form. As a reminder, students will be granted one homework extension regardless of the reason but they still submit the request using this form; all other extension requests will require appropriate justification and documentation to be approved. Any requests for lab-related exceptions should go through the Lab Exceptions Google Form. Other exception requests should be emailed to Email the exception request as soon as possible. Exceptions will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Since there is one homework drop, missing homework is rarely excused. Examples of situations that merit an exception are medical emergencies and family emergencies.

If you encounter what you believe will become an ongoing emergency over the course of the semester, please contact or the DSP office to discuss accommodations extending beyond individual assignments. Note that these exceptions are less common and typically require more documentation than exceptions for individual assignments.

Accommodations will be provided to students who have letters of accommodations from DSP services and students facing hardships. Student hardships include family/medical emergencies.

Course Communication

The instructors and TAs will post announcements, clarifications, hints, etc. on Piazza. Hence you must check the EECS 16B Piazza page frequently throughout the term. We will NOT be responsible for students who miss information because they are not reading the announcements on Piazza. (You should already have access to the EECS 16B Spring 2022 forum. If you do not, please let us know.)

If you have a question, your best option is to post a message on Piazza. The staff (instructors and TAs) will check the forum regularly, and if you use the forum, other students will be able to help you too. When using the forum, please avoid off-topic discussions, and please do not post answers to homework questions before the homework is due. We reserve the right to make private any post that we deem detracts from the learning environment. Always look for the respective thread to post your question to (for example, each homework, discussion, lecture, and note will have its own designated thread, so please post there). If your question is personal or not of interest to other students, you may mark your question as private on Piazza, so only the instructors will see it. If you wish to talk with one of us individually, please reach out via email.

It can be challenging for the instructors to gauge how smoothly the class is going. We always welcome any feedback on what we could be doing better. If you would like to send anonymous comments or constructive criticism, please fill out the anonymous feedback form. Non-anonymous feedback can be provided through private Piazza posts. Public posts are not an appropriate way to give feedback or make bug reports.


We encourage you to work on homework problems in study groups of two to four people; however, you must always write up the solutions on your own. Similarly, you may use books or online resources (although we generally discourage this since students can be misled as often as helped) to help solve homework problems, but you must always credit all such sources in your write up, and you must never copy material verbatim. Using previous EECS 16B homework, exam, and lab solutions is strictly prohibited – even if these are posted elsewhere – and will be considered academic dishonesty. Such dishonesty can result in negative points, as well as possible referral to the Office of Student Conduct. This is not how you want to start your career as an engineer. Besides, there’s no point in doing so since you can always look at the solutions for HW once those solutions come out for the resubmission phase.

We expect that all of our students can distinguish between helping other students and cheating. Explaining the meaning of a question, discussing a way of approaching a solution, or collaboratively exploring how to solve a problem within your group is an interaction that we strongly encourage. However, you should write your homework solution strictly by yourself so that your hands and eyes can help you internalize the subject matter. Copying your own work from a previous iteration is not allowed; it is akin to copying off someone else: this is self-plagiarism. You should acknowledge everyone whom you have worked with or who has given you any significant ideas about the homework. This is good scholarly conduct. Not citing help or resources used can result in negative points.

Collaboration during exams or other designated assessments is strictly forbidden, subject to the Berkeley Honor Code, Code of Conduct, and the parameters of the specific assessment. Improper collaboration can result in negative points to the respective grade category, as well as possible referral to the Center for Student Conduct.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Are you struggling? Please come talk with us! The earlier we learn about your struggles, the more likely it is that we can help you. Waiting until right before an exam or the last few weeks of the semester to let us know about your problems is not an effective strategy - the later it is, the less we will be able to help you.

Even if you are convinced that you are the only person in the class who is struggling, please overcome any feelings of embarrassment or guilt, and come ask for help as soon as you need it -- we can almost guarantee you're not the only person who feels this way. Don't hesitate to ask us for help -- we really do care that you thrive! You can email, or email / talk to any TA at any time -- we’re happy to help.


We are committed to creating a learning environment welcoming of all students that supports a diversity of thoughts, perspectives and experiences, and respects your identities and backgrounds (including professional goals, race/ethnicity, nationality, gender identity, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, language, religion, ability, etc.) To help accomplish this:

  • If you feel like your performance in the class is being impacted by your experiences outside of class (e.g., family matters, current events), please don’t hesitate to come and talk with us. We want to be resources for you.
  • We are still in the process of learning about diverse perspectives and identities. If something was said in class (by anyone) that made you feel uncomfortable, please talk to us about it.
  • As a participant in this class, recognize that you can be proactive about making other students feel included and respected.

Berkeley Honor Code

Everyone in this class is expected to adhere to this code: “As a member of the UC Berkeley community, I act with honesty, integrity, and respect for others.”

Accomodation Policy: We honor and respect the different learning needs of our students, and are committed to ensuring you have the resources you need to succeed in our class, subject to the limits on our resources. If you need religious or disability-related accommodations, if you have emergency medical information you wish to share with us, please share this information as needed. You may write to the course email address at Please also see DSP and CPS under “Campus Resources”.

Policy on Course Content

You are free and encouraged to study from course materials to further your personal or professional goals (in collaborations with other students, in your research, etc.). You may NOT post HW/Exams/Solutions anywhere on the web because this could encourage cheating down the road. You are expressly prohibited from uploading course materials to websites such as or, which distribute and monetize content without compensation to the University. Course material, including all video, is copyrighted and reposting to third party sites or any other form of redistribution is prohibited. We see this as unprofessional conduct, and students who violate this may be subject to negative points in the respective grade category.

Campus Resources

Center for Access to Engineering Excellence (CAEE)
The Center for Access to Engineering Excellence (227 Bechtel Engineering Center; is an inclusive center that offers study spaces, nutritious snacks, and tutoring in >50 courses for Berkeley engineers and other majors across campus. The Center also offers a wide range of professional development, leadership, and wellness programs, and loans iclickers, laptops, and professional attire for interviews.

Disabled Students' Program (DSP)
The Disabled Student’s Program (260 César Chávez Student Center #4250; 510-642-0518; serves students with disabilities of all kinds. Services are individually designed and based on the specific needs of each student as identified by DSP's Specialists.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS)
The main University Health Services Counseling and Psychological Services staff is located at the Tang Center (; 2222 Bancroft Way; 642-9494) and provides confidential assistance to students managing problems that can emerge from illness such as financial, academic, legal, family concerns, and more.

To improve access for engineering students, a licensed psychologist from the Tang Center also holds walk-in appointments for confidential counseling in 241 Bechtel Engineering Center (check here for schedule:

The Care Line (PATH to Care Center)
The Care Line (510-643-2005; is a 24/7, confidential, free, campus-based resource for urgent support around sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, stalking, and invasion of sexual privacy. The Care Line will connect you with a confidential advocate for trauma-informed crisis support including time-sensitive information, securing urgent safety resources, and accompaniment to medical care or reporting.

Ombudsperson for Students
The Ombudsperson for Students (102 Sproul Hall; 642-5754; provides a confidential service for students involved in a University-related problem (academic or administrative), acting as a neutral complaint resolver and not as an advocate for any of the parties involved in a dispute. The Ombudsman can provide information on policies and procedures affecting students, facilitate students' contact with services able to assist in resolving the problem, and assist students in complaints concerning improper application of University policies or procedures. All matters referred to this office are held in strict confidence. The only exceptions, at the sole discretion of the Ombudsman, are cases where there appears to be imminent threat of serious harm.

UC Berkeley Food Pantry
The UC Berkeley Food Pantry (#68 Martin Luther King Student Union; aims to reduce food insecurity among students and staff at UC Berkeley, especially the lack of nutritious food. Students and staff can visit the pantry as many times as they need and take as much as they need while being mindful that it is a shared resource. The pantry operates on a self-assessed need basis; there are no eligibility requirements. The pantry is not for students and staff who need supplemental snacking food, but rather, core food support.

Technology Needs (STEP)
The Student Technology Equity Program (STEP, provides laptops and other technologies for free and is for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. It requires a simple online application form, though applications are accepted and resources are distributed in terms of need-based priority. The laptops provided are brand-new, come with four years of premier support, and meet basic requirements for students in all fields of study.
There also will be opportunities for students to apply for and pick up equipment in person - curbside and contactless - at the Student Union over the next few weeks. If students live outside the Berkeley area, STEP will ship the equipment directly to them, free. STEP will continue to distribute hardware throughout the academic year, while supplies last.


The following tips are offered based on our experience. You can find more detailed advice in Note 0B and Lab Note 0.

Do the homeworks! The homeworks are explicitly designed to help you to learn the material as you go along. There is usually a strong correlation between homework scores and final grades in the class.

Keep up with lectures! Discussion sections, labs and homeworks all touch on portions of what we discuss in lecture. Students do much better if they stay on track with the course. That will also help you keep the pace with your homework and study group.

Take part in discussion sections! Discussion sections are not auxiliary lectures. They are an opportunity for interactive learning, and applying and expanding on the concepts covered in the lecture. The success of a discussion section depends largely on the willingness of students to participate actively in it. As with office hours, the better prepared you are for the discussion, the more you are likely to benefit from it.

Think and talk to us about the big picture! At times, it may seem unclear how a certain topic fits and why it is useful to learn. We’ll try our best to motivate each topic in lectures, discussions, homeworks and labs. Please ask on Piazza, at HW parties or conceptual office hours. We’d be happy to get your questions and discuss.

Please come to the homework party and our other office hours! We love to talk to you and do the deep dives needed to help you understand the material better.

Form study groups! As stated above, you are encouraged to form small groups (two to four people) to work together on homeworks and on understanding the class material on a regular basis. In addition to being fun, this can save you a lot of time by generating ideas quickly and preventing you from getting hung up on some point or other. Of course, it is your responsibility to ensure that you contribute actively to the group; passive listening will likely not help you much. And recall the caveat above that you must write up your solutions on your own. We strongly advise you to spend some time on your own thinking about each problem before you meet with your study partners; this way, you will be in a position to compare ideas with your partners, and it will get you in practice for the exams. Make sure you work through all problems yourself, and that your final write-up is your own. Some groups try to split up the problems ("you do Problem 1, I'll do Problem 2, then we'll swap notes"); not only is this a punishable violation of our collaboration policies, it also ensures you will learn a lot less from this course.