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InstructorLuis Rodriguez

Course Description | Lecture and Course Files | Student Evaluations

Quantitative Evaluation:

  1. Lectures:
    • Clarity of lectures: 7.82
    • Organization of material: 7.35
    • Willingness to help:7.53
  2. Recitations:
    • Clarity of recitations: 6.53
    • Organization of material: 6.0
    • Willingness to help: 7.29
  3. Teaching Assistants:
  4. Michael S Allen
    • Clarity of TA explanations: 6.82
    • TA patience: 7.24
    • TA willingness to help: 7.59
  5. Dimitri Kountourogiannis
    • Clarity of TA explanations: 7.76
    • TA patience: 8.06
    • TA willingness to help: 8.24
  6. Rusty Chris
    • Clarity of TA explanations:7.25
    • TA patience:8.0
    • TA willingness to help:7.88
  7. Overall course:
    • Overall course rigor and challenge: 6.82
    • Course organization and design: 6.59
    • Clear relationship to curriculum: 8.65
  8. Administration:
    • Administrative friendliness: 8.65
    • Administrative responsiveness: 7.77

Qualitative Evaluation:
This month, the class was divided on how the course went. One section felt that this course was the weakest link in the program. According to them, the course fell short of its intended goals and requires a lot of changes in terms of organization, problem sets and texts. On the other hand, another section of students was impressed by how clear, concise and well-organized the lectures and the course in general was. However, everybody agreed that it was a survey course and was not as rigorous as the previous months.

The students were asked to evaluate not only on the program content but also the faculty and staff with whom they interacted. The following summary is based on 18 student responses out of a class of 34.

Lectures (Luis Rodriguez):

Systems is a huge topic so the course material tended to be scattered. A few students did not find the lectures to be of the highest quality. They felt that Luis was making up half the course with little preparation and did not answer the questions raised in a satisfying manner.

However, another set of students loved the course and the way it was approached by Luis because of the big-picture thinking it offered. As one student commented, \I was able to make a lot of connections between what we studied in this course and what I studied as a liberal arts student. At the same time, I became more proficient at reading and extracting technical information, and learned a lot about systems: why they fail, why complexity is hard to manage, and what trade-offs must be made in designing them.\

Recitations (Mike, Rusty, Dimitri and Dan Parker):

Some students liked the student participation and discussion format of the recitations while the others found it to be a waste of time.

Problem Sets:

The usual problem sets were replaced by one-page write-ups for this course. A few students enjoyed the approach of reading articles and writing about them. Though the problem sets were a good writing practice and helped some students to understand \systems\ in general the others found them uninteresting.

Though the final project was a great idea and challenging for the majority of the students, but the topic was ill defined. It involved a lot of reading and nobody had a clue how to do it.


The majority of the students did not find the exams useful for self-assessment.


While the \Mythical Man-Month\ book by Frederick Brooks was not discussed at all, the \Distributed Systems\ book by Coulouris, Dollimore and Kindberg did not arrive till the middle of the month. The students preferred the \Distributed Systems\ book to \Mythical Man-Month\ book.

Relation to Computer Science:

All the students understood how the study of systems fits in CS discipline. To quote a particular student: \This course covered a lot about networks and the working of the network which is an absolute must for any one in the CS field today.\

Teaching Assistants (Mike,Dimitri and Rusty):

In general, the TA's were not as available as other months.


The firing of the Foundation staff was very disruptive. It caused widespread panic and discontentment. As a result the student's found it extremely difficult to concentrate on their work. As one student commented, \The Foundation's demise was clearly unhelpful.\

Future changes to the course:

Organize the course material better.

\Mythical Man-Month\ should be used as a reference only.

Improve the exam.

Do not introduce a new book in the middle of the course.

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Site last updated: May 14, 2013
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