Frequently Asked Questions

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Why are there rules of engagement and what are they?

We of the staff promise that we will do all we can to make 6.034 an interesting, useful, and inspiring subject. We cannot honor our promise if we are talking to the back of laptops or to people manipulating cell phones or reading newspapers. We find it insulting, and when we are insulted, we are distracted, and when we are distracted, we do less well, and when we do less well, we are less useful to people paying attention, so an open laptop harms other students.

Accordingly, we do not teach when computers or cell phones are in use or newspapers are being read.

There are alternatives to 6.034 that satisfy the same requirement; check with the instructors for the rules of engagement in those subjects.

Should I take the subject this semester?

  • 6.034 is not offered in the Spring Semester.
  • In 2015, 6.034 will again feature Right Now talks, by prominent MIT faculty and staff describing their current research. These will complement Professor Winston's lectures.

Should I buy a book?

No. All the reading material you need will be online at zero cost. See the references page.

Am I expected to attend lectures, recitations, and the Right Now talks?

Yes. We believe that the lectures, recitations, and right-now talks are all an important part of the MIT experience, and we work hard to make them interesting and useful. When we develop the quizzes, we will include some material that is presented only in lectures and talks.

Element Purpose
Lectures To introduce most of the material and provide the big picture. We often include questions on the quizzes and final that you can answer only by faithful lecture attendance.
Talks To see what's happening in today's research projects in talks that complement the material presented in lectures.
Recitations To review lecture material in more technical detail, work through practice problems, and have additional opportunities to ask questions in a small venue.

Do I need to know how to program in Python?

The subject is not centered on programming, but most of the homework requires an understanding of programming and working out some small programs. The quizzes and final do not include questions that require any knowledge of Python programming.

Students who can program but are unfamiliar with Python will have to spend a couple of weekends to catch up; students with no programming experience are advised not to take the subject.

Do I have to take the final?

You need not take the final if you are happy with the grade you will get based on the quizzes. If you take the final, your grade may go up, but cannot go down.

What can I bring to the quizzes and the final?

You are allowed to bring any printed material you want (books, notes, labs and solutions, previous quizzes, etc).

You are allowed to bring tools such as calculators, clocks, rulers, slide rules, telescopes, etc.

You may wear a costume.

You are NOT allowed to bring cell phones, computers, iPads, etc (even if you turn off the wireless).

How do I get my quiz back?

Quizzes are handed back in the next recitation. If you choose not to go to recitations, you have to pick up your quiz in Patrick Winston's office, 32-251. Except under special circumstances (right before drop date, right before the final, or if you are physically unable to pick up your quiz), we will not give out quiz grades over email.

Can I collaborate with friends on the homework?

See grading policy.

What is the final grade distribution likely to be?

See grading policy.

What if I'm sick or have a conflict with a quiz?

See grading policy.

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