All Ratings and Reviews for Panagiotis D Christofides
If your exposure to Christofides is limited to lectures, he comes off as intimidating and not easy to approach. Much to my surprise, he was friendly and helpful in office hours. Once, when I got TA office hours confused, he walked me personally to his lab and got the TAs to help me.
His lecture style is straightforward and clear, but not of epic merit like Corbin. He engages the class with questions. The homework is straightforward, doable, but a little time-consuming. If you do the homework studiously, you will do well on the exams. He outlines what will be on the tests, and the average reflects that. The final project is incredibly time-consuming, but it saved my A from an otherwise not-so-stellar final exam.
Overall, 109 will be your "easy" class once you hit Junior-year upper divs.
I like this guy's lectures a lot. His homeworks take forever but there only 4 of them. The matlab coding takes forever. The midterm exam was fair. Exactly what I expected. The final exam was a COMPLETE mess and the TAs admitted it was far more difficult that it should have been. So I feel a heavy curve was applied this year.
Everyone said he is a very good teacher, but I was pretty disappointed in this class. The project at the end takes forever, and is very stressful trying to finish it on time with finals. He doesn't seem approachable, but when I did he was very accomdating.
The TAs don't really care about you as usual.
Christofides is the best professor I've come across thus far in the ChemE department. In fact, he's one of the best professors I've come across at UCLA, in general. He is crisp clear with what he is teaching and is very thorough with his material. Course organization is very thorough.
The midterm was similar to previous midterms. The midterm and final are quite fair, and for the most part, easy.
Some homeworks may be a little time consuming. It is, however, quite enjoyable.
Christofides appears quite unapproachable, but is, in fact, quite helpful in person.
I am quite glad that I have to take another class with him (107).
I don't really know if my experience was just different from the other reviews so far, but this class felt just all right, not great and not horrible. Christofides presents the ideas fairly well, but none of the Matlab code actually gets written in class or in discussion, which is weird since the department requires students take Matlab.
The new math material in this class mostly consisted of elementary point-set topology (normed spaces), boundary value ODEs (if you haven't done these before), Fourier series and separation of variables for PDEs (mostly heat, wave, and Laplace equation). If you've had some prior experience in any of these, the explanations will be greatly simplified from what you've learned, and so you should probably consult the source you learned it from (especially Fourier series and separation of variables).
The numerical methods in this class are not so hard to understand, but the class really does not do all that many examples and usually does the easier ones anyways. The codes written are mostly just putting into Matlab code the ideas that you memorize in class (since most of them require real analysis to prove). You should try to write functions when possible as codes written earlier in the course get used for later assignments.
The class structure basically follows this format
Weeks 1-2: solving matrix equations
Week 3: solving nonlinear systems of equations
Week 4: systems of ordinary differential equations
Week 5: Midterm
Week 6-7: boundary value problems
Week 8-9: heat, wave, and Laplace equations
Week 10: separation of variable methods, Fourier series
The midterm covers everything from weeks 1-4 and the final covers everything after the midterm. However, the past final and the one I took really emphasized separation of variables and finite difference approximations. The exams are fair, but also really tedious as you're basically writing out the calculations a computer does in a For loop. On one problem on the final, the numbers got so big that my calculator would have refused to do the calculations for the next step. They are also really hard graders on short answer for some reason? Definitely lost a lot of points on explanations that I thought were complete.
The project for this class literally never changes over the years. Some of the TAs did the same project as undergraduates. Just ask an upperclassman with how they would deal with the problems you're having or how to do something.
Grading for the class follows like this.
The homework was never returned and I doubt they actually check your code. They also ask you to print out your code and output, so they don't actually have the ability to test it. The midterm average was 83%, which is fairly high, but I think a lot of people struggled on the final.
Overall, a relatively fair class for chemical engineering, but you need to see a lot more examples than the one shown in class to understand the material (especially some examples for Fourier series where you actually do the integral, which for some reason was always avoided in this class).
I liked how this class took the ideas of Linear Algebra and applied them to real life. This class was difficult but not too awful. It requires a copious amount of MATLAB for the homework, so make sure to review a little. The main way to do well in this class is to organize information by method and what it solves (i.e. to solve Ax=b matrices, use Gauss-Seidel, Jacobi, LU Decomposition, etc.). Make sure to understand the theory of the class because the midterms have a mix of theory and physical calculations. The final project is long and confusing, but not too terrible. Plan extra time for it because the code can be tricky and doesn't always work the way you expect it to.
Professor Christofides is a little monotone and gives off a little bit of an unapproachable vibe, but he seems to want to ensure that everyone understands. He wants people to participate and answer questions in class.
Christofides is a really great professor. Engaging lectures, he isn't afraid to go slower if the students are not understanding the material. His work load was fine. I felt like he really cared about student learning. The project was a pain in the ass, took forever. But overall, it is a good class and I hope I can have him again for another class in the future.
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