Spring 2011

Responses to Anonymous Feedback

Will we get the opportunity to review our DP2 group members, and will that review factor into the grade? Specifically, one member of my group did not contribute at all, while the 3rd member and I spent hours designing the system, writing the report, editing, etc. This was an extremely frustrating experience for us, and I don't think it would be fair for the three of us to receive the same grade.

If one of your DP2 group members did not contribute at all, please talk to your TA to let us know about this situation, and we will take this into account when giving each of the group members their grade for DP2.

When are we going to get our grades and feedback for DP1?? DP2 has already been assigned AND we have a quiz coming up. I think it's really unfair not to give students who may wish to revise any time between receiving feedback and having to start work on new assignments.

The DP1s graded by your recitation instructor will be returned tomorrow (4/7/11). We realize returning earlier is better, but every instructor must grade ~40-45 of them, and it just takes time to do a reasonable job at it. Also, note that DP2 is not due until May 5; we assign it early so that you can schedule your time well so that you also can revise DP1.

Lecture is a bit slow for those of us who have seen these concepts before. It would be very nice if lecture were recorded, so we could choose to watch it at an accelerated pace if we wanted. Personally I know that when I find a lecture to be too slow that isn't recorded, I just tune out or don't attend and get very little out of the lecture, whereas when they're recorded I watch them at home sped up, pay much more attention as a result, and never skip watching a lecture due to boredom.

Many 6.033 lectures are split into two parts: a general introduction to the problem, and a more detailed technical case study. If you already know the basics of the problem, you can wait until the second part of each lecture to get into the faster-paced technical details. If you already have a thorough understanding of the material assigned for lecture preparation (e.g., the relevant book chapters), you may want to skip lecture and double-check that you didn't miss anything based on lecture notes -- they are pretty detailed. On the other hand, even if you know some of the material, it may be worthwhile to come to lecture, since we try to explain how the problem fits into a broader context.

To answer your precise question, video-taping lectures at MIT is unfortunately costly (for a variety of reasons); we'll think about it for next year, but it is unlikely we'll be able to start video-taping this year's lectures at this point. There is a video archive of lectures from 2005 available through OCW here, but the topics and focus of lectures have changed somewhat over the past 6 years.

The lecture on congestion was amazing. Who is the lecturer?

Thanks! Prof. Dina Katabi. She teaching sections R5 and R7.

Why is the DP1 due before recitation, rather than at the same time for everyone? It's a little unfair that those with later recitations have a later deadline.

We have extended the deadline to 5pm. See the news page.

Will there be any correction performed at the end of the semester to account for differences in writing instructors' grading standards? In speaking to friends in other sections, these standards appear to be very variable.

The writing instructors meet as they are grading to normalize their grades across sections. If any student feels that work has been graded unfairly, he or she should get in touch with either Don or Mary. Their names and email addresses are at the top of every rubric. They would like to work out any issues as they arise.

I'm a little upset that we weren't told how many negative points we'd receive for wrong answers on Quiz 1. The penalty value has a huge impact on whether or not a student should decide to answer a question or just leave it blank. It's one thing to discourage "random guessing" by setting a penalty of -1 to make the expected value of a random guess be 0. It's another thing not to tell us what the penalty was. If the penalty was -2, then one should only answer if one is 66% sure of the answer; if the penalty was -5, then one should only answer if one is 80% sure. Without knowing the penalty, there's no way to tell whether you should answer or not if you have a 60% hunch. It was nerve-wracking trying to decide if I should leave an unsure answer circled, not knowing how much it could cost me. -5? -10? -0.01? Who knows! If your aim is to discourage random guesses, a better idea might be to ask us for reasoning on questions. Random guessers won't be able to put anything down, but those of us with a hunch will be able to explain our reasoning and perhaps avoid the guessing penalty even if we don't get full (or any) points.

Sorry to hear that you are upset! That is certainly not our intention. The points assigned to each answer (both positive and negative) vary depending on the difficulty of the question. In general, you should not guess if you are not reasonably sure of the answer. If you think you know the answer, but aren't certain, you can consult the book, lecture notes, or recitation material to double-check.

I have noticed that a lot of the material delivered in lectures is delivered only verbally, and isn't present in any of the slides or boardwork. This makes it difficult for visual learners like myself to fully benefit from lectures. For example, in today's lecture, the pros/cons of hierarchical routing were only spoken, never written down or shown on a slide. I would appreciate more detailed slides being shown in class, or at least, that the "notes" posted on the website after class be more coherent (with bullet points, headers, etc) and easier to visually scan. Again, the issue is catering to visual learners - obviously the lecture notes contain a lot of information, but they read like a dump of text and are very hard to process visually.

We appreciate the point, and we try to deliver the material in many ways. We are sorry to hear that the posted lecture notes are not working for you, but you can get another perspective on lecture material by consulting the book. For your particular example, it actually happens to have a detailed discussion of hierarchical routing.

When are you planning on returning our design project proposals to us for DP1? I'd like to work on it, but I don't want to do too much if it turns out I've been thinking about the problem entirely wrong.

We will try to return them by Tuesday recitation (03/08/11), and hopefully sooner (if time permits). We appreciate your patience.

What assignments will students receive feedback on?

The TAs will provide feedback on your Design Project proposals and the one-page memos. Your recitation instructors will provide feedback on the final DP1 and DP2 writeups. We will mark your hands-on assignments with check/check+/check- grades to identify mostly correct/excellent/mostly incorrect work. Paper questions due before recitations will only be sanity-checked for correctness by the TAs.

In addition to this, the writing staff will also provide detailed feedback to you for the one-page memos, the DP1 project proposals and the DP1 final writeups.

You can find the feedback for your work in the Submissions section of the course website. Please email the staff if you cannot see the comments posted by us.

Will solutions to the hands-on assignments or the paper questions be posted?

Unfortunately, no. These questions will be reused in future terms, so we will not post solutions online. However, you should feel free to talk to the staff (e.g. during office hours or recitations) if you are unsure about a particular problem.

How do I assess my understanding of the readings and the course material in general?

We have posted lots of past quizzes from previous years; you should use these quizzes to gauge the level of understanding expected from 6.033 students. (Remember, however, that the quizzes are open-book/open-notes.) Solutions to the quizzes are posted with them.

Homework due the day before a test...? All in the middle of the DP1 work period? We're not superhuman, you know.

Good concern, and our intent is to stay within the average of 12 hours per week that is allocated for 6.033. Of those 12, 2 go to lectures and 3 go to attending recitation section and tutorials. That leaves 7 hours per week. We expect that you spend about 2-4 hours on reading the papers so that you can participate in recitation section. The paper questions are intended to help you read the paper and prepare for recitation section. It should take little time to answer them once you have read the paper.

In the week of the quiz we do assign papers for recitation section (and thus also a reading question to help you), but we don't assign hands-on homeworks, deliverables for design projects etc.

If the amount of work in 6.033 is out of control (i.e., you are spending much more than 12 hours per week), please let us know.

Can Professor Kashoek please turn up his microphone's volume during lectures? He sounds very faint and I have trouble hearing him in class.

Thanks for relaying this comment! We asked the audio folks to crank up the volume. If there is a problem, please alert us immediately during lecture.

Questions or comments regarding 6.033? Send e-mail to the 6.033 staff at or to the 6.033 TAs at .

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