Professor Yao is just okay. His lectures are indeed very dry and consist of him reading off his slides on the projector, but at times he livens things up by talking about the real world application of what we're learning. His homework is usually pretty straight forward, but if you run into trouble on it, the two TAs Zicong and Ni-chun are super awesome and will help you with it. The exams are a different story though, I guess. The midterm we had (Winter 2012) was extremely easy (83% average!) and to make up for it, Professor Yao said he'd make the final a bit harder (57% closed book average, 63% open book average). Overall, I don't think the class really builds upon itself very well, which isn't necessarily Professor Yao's fault, but for bleh the class is, Yao does an okay job.
Professor Yao is your average Joe: not too bad, but not great either. His lectures are pretty dry, so it's hard enough staying awake for the full 2 hours, but he does write a lot of equations and derivations on the board. The material during the first half of the course wasn't terribly difficult, but I felt like after the midterm, the material got immensely harder day after day. I couldn't really learn much from his lectures after the second midterm since I was already swamped with work from other classes. Sometimes, I feel like whenever a student asks him a question, he doesn't exactly understand it, so he tries to come up with an answer that doesn't exactly answer the question. His homework assignments weren't difficult to begin with, but they got increasingly harder week after week. He said that if you can do the homework by yourself without looking at a solutions manual, you should be able to do well on his exams. That's not necessarily the case because I felt like the latter homework assignments was essentially copying equations from the textbook. As for the exams, they're not terribly difficult, but they're definitely not easy. I got average on both the midterm and the final, but I felt like I could have scored more had I spent more time on this course. His final exam was kind of unique: the first 90 minutes was closed-book closed-notes while the latter 90 minutes was open-book open-notes. However, the first part of the exam was significantly easier since it focused more on Fourier Transforms, which were primarily covered in the first half of the course.
One of my better UCLA professors. I took estimation theory from him in 1971. Kung was also my thesis advisor. I worked full time at Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo where he was a part-time consultant. Thesis which I submitted in the autumn of 1972 was "a numerical study of minimum probability of error expression in a digital communication system with intersymbol interference". In it, I used APL, a programming language which featured concise code for array manipulation, which later on I performed in C/C++ and C#. (I still program with C#, but I left C in the 20th century.) I was stuck at one point and finally figured out what the problem was while I was watching "Godfather" in Westwood Village. Afterward, I walked up to the Medical Center where there was a room full of IBM Selectric typewriters modified for use with an IBM mainframe in the Boelter Hall Math Annex. I made modifications to my software which worked... and voila! I was over the hump and submitted my thesis way before the deadline. I owed it all to the piano rift performed by Carmine Coppola in "The Godfather". (I don't remember the course numbers from '72. They were upper division and grad level courses. I checked EE598 just to fill in the required field.)