Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata Theory

Mark Burgin

Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata Theory

Computer Science department

Mark Burgin

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Ratings

Bad
Overall 3.0
Good
Hard
Easiness of class 2.5
Easy
Heavy
Workload 2.6
Light
Not Clear
Clarity of professor 2.5
Clear
Not Helpful
Helpfulness of professor 3.2
Helpful
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Tags

  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Useful Textbooks
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Would Take Again
  • Engaging Lectures
  • Snazzy Dresser
  • Participation Matters
  • Gives Extra Credit

Textbooks

Textbook listings are currently unavailable for this course.

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Grades

Summer 2016
27.6%
23.0%
18.4%
13.8%
9.2%
4.6%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Summer 2015
46.2%
38.5%
30.8%
23.1%
15.4%
7.7%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

Summer 2013
35.0%
29.2%
23.3%
17.5%
11.7%
5.8%
0.0%
A+
A
A-
B+
B
B-
C+
C
C-
D+
D
D-
F

Grade distributions are collected using data from the UCLA Registrar’s Office.

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1 of 2

Reviews

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted Sept. 9, 2015 Grade Received: N/A

So first off i will say that I took computer Science 181 two times, i took it with sherestov (he is great) but i had to retake the class and i took it with burgin.

So for sherestov he tested x4 and had 80% tests 20% hw and about no partial credit, straight scale with a little curve, i didn't end up so good. He did teach really well though! But the tests were just not good for me.

I took this class with burgin and from the knowledge from the previous class, i can say he is a good guy and an ok lecturer, he goes over more of the proofs and more in depth. He also goes into some other topics that were not covered in the other class. He talks very slow and sometimes may be a little hard to understand, but he is always open to questions. If any topics don't make sense I just read the book, or went on youtube to review.(EXCEPT THE LAST TOPICS which i will mention in a bit)

So i got a F with Sherestov and a B with Burgin.

Burgin grading is
0-30 F
30-49 D
50-74 C
75-90 B
90-100 A

I can say passing this class will be easy, getting a B is completely doable, but A is a little tough to get since it is straight scale.

Our grading break down was
-----
Hw 30% (3 hw assignments)
Midterm 30%
Final 40%

i got about 87% on Hw's
85% on Midterm and
the final Score i don't know but IT WAS HARD

His hws are a bit hard, and you want to work on it, but they were really close to what was asked on the midterm and final.

The midterm was fairly easy but the final was REALLY hard. However, if he sees that your trying and you understand the concepts and elaborate he does give partial credit. (MUCH MORE THAN SHERESTOV)

He also gives EXTRA CREDIT that is not 1-to-1 but a percentage of how much extra credit you get, but these points help your grade and let you retake your midterm and choose what grade was higher if you accumulated enough points!!! All you have to do is answer his questions in his class which range from easy to hard.

We did not have a TA so all questions and discussion was run by the prof as more lecture/discussion.

Don't miss out the last few lectures he was the one that "invented" or "researched" these topics and you will not find anything really on super recursive things so go to class

ALSO OPEN NOTES ON TESTS FOR US AT LEAST YAYY!!!!

Overal he is a great guy, sometimes a bit hard in lecture but he is always open to questions, if you need more help or just want the basics without the proof just read the book or watch some youtube stuff, simple enough.

TLDR: I got F then got B in his class, grading is nice (EXPECT getting B, HARD TO GET A)(straight curve modified ), extra credit and open notes for us, midterm: easy->medium, final: hard, hw :medium->hard, not the best lecturer but nice and will answer your questions. need more help read the book or go on youtube.

Overall give him like a 8.1/10

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted Aug. 28, 2011 Grade Received: N/A

Yes he is a bad teacher and his lectures are excruciatingly boring (akin to torture). Yes you learn more on your own or from the TA. Yes he has a thick accent and comes off as extremely self-important. But that's not the worst of it.

I would not think it possible at UCLA but he actually denied me extra credit that I've earned in order to lower my grade (89/100). The extra credit was the only thing that kept me attending those mediocre lectures of his, as the questions were rather easy and mostly "repeat what I just said" type. I noticed he wasn't too fond of me (the feeling is mutual) but to be so unprofessional, outrageous. Made me feel like a sap for honoring my part of the school code. So, yes, he is also crooked.

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted Nov. 1, 2010 Grade Received: N/A

Don't take any class with him. As mentioned before he is a terrible lecturer and what is worse, you can't simply skip those useless lectures, because of the extra credit. Also, don't mistaken his common courtesy for kindness or care, he doesn't. Would you bother to ask if you knew the second explanation was going to be worse than the first? That's why people don't bother asking. He must know it and keeps extra credit just to keep attendance up.
The TA was infinately more usefull. Other than that, you're on your own.
The material is not that hard so you can get an A but taking this or any other class with him is just not worth it.

Quarter Taken: N/A Submitted Nov. 5, 2015 Grade Received: N/A

Prof. Burgin has a very solid background in mathematics, which makes his lecture very math inclined (this course itself is very math inclined I think). He knows the material very well. In fact, by the end of the quarter , he will teach you some more advanced topics, some of which were actually introduced by himself. In terms of competence, he is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in this specific field.

In terms of teaching, depending on your interest in the topics, you may find his lecture a little boring (as in many math courses, which are just repeated definitions, lemmas, theorems, and corollaries over and over). Some of the proofs are long and complete, but it usually suffices to only memorize the lemmas and theorems and to understand how to apply them. (It's still recommended that you pay attention to the proofs for your own learning. It'll also increase your chance of earning extra credits). He is always happy to answer questions. He can stay more than one hour with you in his office after the class until he answers all your questions.

In terms of grading. He does not curve (not when I was in his 181 class). But his midterm and final were quite easy and it wasn't difficult at all to get 90%+. He even gave us a chance to retake the midterm for a higher grade. And the extra credits are not difficult to earn, either. If you pay attention in his class, you can easily earn 10+ extra credit points by the end. I got an easy A and so did everyone I knew in this class.

As in many math courses, the books are usually not necessary if you take notes. But the book usually gives more intuition and examples on the object.

Quarter Taken: Summer 2016 Submitted Aug. 10, 2016 Grade Received: N/A

Professor Burgin is one of the best teachers I have every had. Don't hesitate take his class immediately. You are lucky to be in his class.

Best lecturer, very patient and will repeat same problem several times until students understand. participate in his lectures and B is guaranteed. If you do a little more at home then you will get A.

Quarter Taken: Summer 2016 Submitted Aug. 11, 2016 Grade Received: A

He is really helpful. He explains in full details, and you don't understand it, he will try to explain in other ways, and keep explaining until you understand. Ask him as many question as you come across he will answer all. He is very patient.

Take his class. Attend to lecture. If you want to buy the book for extra help is OK but not necessary. Everything is well explained in lectures. If you pay full attention to lectures and do homework you will get B, and if you are type of people who don't make silly mistakes on tests so you will get A by just attending to lecture and doing homework.

His goal is teach us not torture us. He always suggests the simplest solution.

Quarter Taken: Summer 2016 Submitted Aug. 17, 2016 Grade Received: A

THIS IS A REVIEW FOR BURGIN'S CS 180

Since the official final grade is submitted, I can finally freely write down what I want to say for this guy.

If you don't want to see this lengthy post, here is the conclusion:
This instructor is horrible. If you can, please avoid him at all cost. At least for his CS 180.

1. Lectures
His lecture is unorganized. He always uses confusing notations to cover algorithms, and he never gives us an example to actually apply those algorithms. A lot of students stopped attending lectures because literally it's a waste of 2 hours. He already skipped a lot of materials (possibly due to time constraints) but he is willing to talk about why Noble prize does not include Math for 20 minutes.

2. Materials covered
He skipped a lot of materials. I have a list of comparison of materials covered.
The second column comes from Majid. The third column is available at math department's website: https://www.math.ucla.edu/ugrad/courses/math/182

Dr. Burgin

1.1, 1.2

2.1, 2.2, 2.4

3.1,3.2, 3.5, 3,6

4.1 (part of)

5.1, 5.4

6.1, 6.4 (part of)

7.1, 7.2, 7.5, 7.7

8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4

Majid

1.1

2.1, 2.2, 2.4

3.1, 3.2, 3.5, 3.6

4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8

5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4

6.1, 6.2, 6,4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.8

7.1, 7.2, 7.5, 7.8, 7.9

8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4

Math Department

1.1, 1.2

2.1, 2.2, 2.4

3.1-3.5

4.1, 4.4, 4.5

5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4

6.1, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6

7.1, 7.2, 7.7, 7.9, 7.10, 7.11

8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4?

As you can see, he skipped so many from greedy algorithms and dynamic programming. He also did not cover very important concepts like DAGs until the last lecture. He probably wouldn't cover that at all if no one complained about it to the cs department.

Every time I ask senior students or full-time staffers about algorithms, they always ask me to practice on greedy and dynamic programming. Majid also covered a lot about greedy algorithms and dynamic programming. It is frustrating to see an instructor skipping most widely used types of algorithms in an "introduction to algorithm" class.

I understand that it is an 8-week class and due to time constraint we are not expected to cover as much as a 10-week class. However, he occupied full two hours for every lecture and he was willing to spend 20 minutes (and did not even finish) talking about why Noble prize does not have Math. I do think covering more materials is more important than telling an anecdote. Also, math 182 only has 3 hours in a week, and Majid only covers 1.5 hours max in each lecture.

If we calculate the time here: 20 lectures in a regular quarter for CS 180; Deduce 1 Holiday and 1 midterm -> 18 lectures. Time = 18 * 1.5 = 27 hours.

Then we covert this to get a feel about summer classes: 27 / 2 = 13.5 lectures. In total, we have 8 * 2 = 16 lectures. There is one lecture for midterm and one lecture for final. Then we have 14 lectures.

13.5 < 14

This is simple math. Time should not be an excuse for skipping that many materials.

Also, it's fine if he actually teaches us how those algorithms that he covered work, but the fact is no one understands what he is doing.

Moreover, I have to thank our TAs for covering important topics that Dr. Burgin skipped and for all the interview advices.

3. Homework
3.1 Coverage
There are three homework sets. There are 3 problems (really easy) in homework 1 to practice chapter 1.1 and 2.4. There are 3 problems (really confusing) in homework 2 to practice 4.1, 3.2, 6.4 respectively. There are 2 problems (one really confusing, one really easy) in homework 3 to practice 6.1, 7.1.

As you can see, we do not have enough exercises and he skipped divide and conquer completely.

3.2 Homework specification
The phrasing of homework is really confusing. I understand that he is not a native English speaker, but at least he should specify key things to do homework, right?

For example, in homework 3, problem 1:
Is it a single simple cycle?
Are the weights nonnegative?

We have to ask him after class since his office hours are right after class. For students who have a class right after CS 180, it's unfortunate. If you have those clarifications, please send us emails or post clarifications on piazza, OK??? The whole class are bewildered and have no idea about what homework questions try to ask.

TAs Office Hours are totally useless since TAs, too, have no idea about what his problems mean.

3.3 Homework grading and hand-back
The homework won't be given back to us. We have to ask him to see our homework score one by one, and correct grading issues if possible (actually there are always grading issues due to miscommunications between Dr. Burgin and TAs). Again, students who have a class right after this one really don't have a way to see homework scores and reasons for points taken off.

He made an announcement on week 7 Wednesday about handing back homework and midterms, but the fact is nothing changed. We still need to line up to see our homework and midterms. In fact, I have never been able to see my homework 1 till now.

3.4 Homework solutions
No homework solution is released. If we didn't know how to do those questions before due date, we still don't know how to do them now. In my humble opinion this is not the right way to help students learn materials.

4. Exams
He posted HW2 on July 16th and asked us to do it to prepare for the midterm on July 20th. However, when we have questions about HW2, he wouldn't answer. I went to both TA Office Hours on July 18th and July 19th. Both of them said they had no idea about how to do those HW questions.

On the midterm, there are two really similar questions to ones in HW2. OK, I guess he didn't want to answer those questions because two of them were on the midterm. After the midterm, we asked him about solutions to the midterm, and he said in class "I won't give you answers since you still have HW2."

I am totally confused. An instructor released a homework for students to prepare for the midterm and did not give students solutions to that homework, and then refused to give students solutions to the midterm because the homework used prepare for the midterm was not due yet.

The grading is also ridiculous. The TA for section 1B, Jae, was in the same room when we took the midterm, and Dr. Burgin said that we did not need to prove any property of DFS / BFS. However, Jae took off 2 points for anyone not proving one property of DFS / BFS. He was there when we took the midterm. I have no idea about why he did that. If I had not chosen to skip my M51A lectures to see my midterm, I would have lost those 2 points for ever. 2 points are a huge difference for a non-curved class like this.

The final consists of 3 problems.

1. Knapsack problem. Note he only covered a less generalized version of knapsack problem: subset sum.
2. Network flow. Really easy problem. Just give a counter example.
3. Greedy with exchange argument. I know how to prove using exchange argument, but Dr. Burgin never covered this in his class and majority of students have no clue about how to use exchange argument.

If anyone sit through any other professor's lecture, he or she will be able to do these three problems correctly. However, if you only attended Dr. Burgin's lectures and never really spend time reading necessary chapters from the book, then good luck on your exams.

This class is a total disaster. I paid for nearly 2000 dollars to learn nothing. I have never seen anything more ridiculous in my two years here at UCLA. If you can, please avoid him at all cost. At least for his CS 180.

Grade distribution:
Here is the result from a piazza poll:

A total of 47 vote(s)
17 (36% of users) A
14 (30% of users) B
11 (23% of users) C
3 (6% of users) D
2 (4% of users) Other

Quarter Taken: Summer 2016 Submitted Aug. 17, 2016 Grade Received: B

Professor Burgin is definitely the WORST professor that I have encountered in UCLA. I took CS180 with him for summer session A. He is simply not qualified to teach this class. His class is heavily mathematically based and does not prepare you for the questions you might have in a future interview. He chose to cover the topics that are less relevant and skipped over a few of the most important topics in algorithm. This is a eight-week class and he spend the first two weeks covering just stable matching. I will let your imagination run wild on how terrible he is. His lecture was such a excruciating pain to sit through. He talks extremely slowly at a speed of one syllable per second. With his monotonic and hypnotizing voice, he is more skilled in putting people to sleep than he is in teaching. Also his grading scheme is absurd. You receive a B if your overall scores fall into the range of 75% to 89 %. That is to say a person who did not turn in one of the three assignments (10% each) can receive the same grade as you. Also, it is extremely hard to get an A in his class since the average on his tests are high 60's and he follows a straight scale with no curve. During one of his OH's, a student who got an 88(the average was around high 60) on his midterm decided to drop the class before the final. Instead of asking the student's incentive to drop the class, Burgin basically complimented himself saying "I will let you drop because I am so caring of my students." WTF he does not give a sh*t. At the end of the day, I learn much more from TA Buxin Zhao than from him. Zhao's discussion was geared towards actual interview questions. He also shared his knowledge on how to get internship and gave valuable career advice. All those helpful tips he gave were considered as distractions by professor Burgin. Burgin even banned him from giving future advice and recommending good interview books so that he could "stay on track". All in all, avoid this professor at all cost. It is a waste of your time and money.

Quarter Taken: Summer 2016 Submitted Aug. 7, 2016 Grade Received: A

This guy doesn't know how to teach CS 180. Majority of the class stopped attending lectures after 3 or 4 weeks. Everything is a mess.

Quarter Taken: Summer 2016 Submitted Aug. 27, 2016 Grade Received: A

He was very helpful. If you want to success in his class you must pay attention to the lecture, and if you don't understand a part, ask him during the lecture. He explains concepts in different ways until you understand it.

His office hours are so helpful. If you need help with homework, go to his office hours.

If you do the homework and pay attention to the lecture, you will get good grade in this class.

Take his class, you will not regret it. He is very knowledgeable and knows how to teach. Some students complain that he is boring, but common we are not in stand-up comedy show. It is a class, and his main goal is teaching which he is doing great.

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Tags

  • Tolerates Tardiness
  • Useful Textbooks
  • Appropriately Priced Materials
  • Would Take Again
  • Engaging Lectures
  • Snazzy Dresser
  • Participation Matters
  • Gives Extra Credit

Textbooks

Textbook listings are currently unavailable for this course.

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Bruinwalk is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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