Evaluation Comments
Course:Automata Theory and Formal Grammars

Quarter:Autumn 03/04
Time: Tu 17:45 - 21:00
Location: Loop Campus
James Riely PhD

Associate Professor
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What are the major strengths and weaknesses of the instructor?

1.   Prof. Riely knew the material but often seemed unprepared for his lectures and sometimes confused by his own lecture notes.
2.   Riely is clearly very knowledgeable and conveys ideas with great enthusiasm. He was somewhat difficult to follow when doing on-the-fly proofs in class, where he hadn't planned out how he would prove a concept.
3.   Strengths:1. Demonstrating the concepts in class in way where they would be remembered later.Weaknesses:1. Occasionally distracted into going into too much depth on a single problem or proof.2. A bit more relating of this material to other aspects of computer science might help to tie it all together.
4.   Late sometimes in posting assignments (but gave extensions). However this is frustrating. Usually my time is well budgeted each week based on the assignment for that week. Doubling up throws me off completely.
5.   Professor Riely is very personable, friendly, and approachable.
6.   Strengths: Knows material, good speakerWeaknesses: slow to give feedback

What aspects of this course were most beneficial to you?

2.   Learning the basics of Automata and grammers.
3.   1. The formalism around automata and their relationships to languages.
4.   all
6.   The assignments

What do you suggest to improve this course?

1.   The instructor shouldn't conflict with the text so much and if so, maybe use a different book.
3.   Perhaps additional review of proof techniques. It's a prerequisite, but its also one of those skills that gets rusty if it isn't used.
4.   Think about the assignments ahead of time. The assignments should have more in-depth questions like those on the exams for some things.
6.   Plan the homework a bit more thoroughly.

Comment on the grading procedures and exams

1.   The grading was fair, but the assignments sometimes had questions the instructor didn't want to ask.
2.   Always very fair and impartial.
3.   A bit slow on some of the grading, but there was no grading assistant and the grading process is difficult for this materials. Could probably have stood to be more strict on the grading.
4.   I especially liked the fact that the instructor graded the homework.
5.   Regarding the homework grading, each question had a weight of one point, regardless of problem difficulty or size. I don't think that this is a very effective grading scheme; I believe that the problems that require more work and thought should be given more weight. Also, this scheme makes for a somewhat inconsistent grading scale: one homework is out of 18 points, while the next can be out of 15, while another was out of 1 point, etc... Making all assignments out of 100 points would be more consistent. Other than that, no complaints.
6.   Midterm was too quick after start of quarter. Grading was slow!!! Need more feedback.

Other comments?

1.   The instructor sometimes made the material confusing and would often ask us questions to try to get back on the right track.
4.   Very interesting course. As always this instructor makes the subject matter more interesting with his presentation style.