Kevin Zhou

Thoughts on 2A

My 2A term surprisingly felt less demanding compared to first year. Don’t get me wrong, there were still moments where I was under stress to finish assignments or understand alien-like concepts, but overall I felt more relaxed and focused. With this term behind me, it’s a good time to write about the courses I took.

CS 245

This is probably the horror course you read about on UW Flow. While there could be improvements to how the course is taught, the material itself was still interesting. Some of the weekly assignments could be finished relatively quickly if you kept up with the material, and they were also great practise for the midterm and exam. Tip: if you find some of the course slides confusing, try going through Lubiw’s slides from a previous term. They’re more concise and easier to understand.

CS 246

A big step up from CS 136. You now graduate from C to C++ and get to learn all the quirks that the language has. A lot of useful content is covered in this class, such as the programming design patterns. Each assignment is split up into two due dates, where the first is for the test cases and the second for submitting the actual code. Don’t underestimate the time required to do the test cases, some of them can be very tricky to find. The midterm was also difficult and long (I think the average was a 62%), but the final was fair. Also be sure to take good notes since they’ll be what you study from. I was lucky to have Nomair for this course. He’s the best.

Stat 230

The beginning is almost the same as what you learn in high school data, but the content ramps up quickly from there. There’s also no weekly assignments, but the 3 tests and 2 midterms make up for it. Be sure to keep up with the content or it will be difficult to catch up in time the end for the final (which is kind of what happened to me).

Psych 256

Surprisingly applicable to CS for a psych course. You get to learn about the different ways of representing the mind and intelligence, and how each of these approaches can relate to one another. Unlike most psych courses at this level, the tests are comprised of only short answer questions, with one short essay question at the end. I personally found the content more interesting near the end when we started discussing neural networks. This course is great for those who are interested in AI.

Psych 207

Some overlap with psych 256, but with much less attention on CS topics. There’s a greater focus on cognitive disorders, experiments, and case studies. For some reason, my prof glanced through most of the physiology content in the textbook, which just so happened to the topics I was most interested in. Despite that, the course was enjoyable all around and a great compliment to psych 256.