CSE494/598 Fall 2011 State of the Class Survey Results

5 (out of 10; 50%) CSE494 section students and 35 (out of 43; 81%) CSE598 students took part in the survey


What topics did you enjoy/like/get most out of until now?

What topics did you hate/got bored/felt-it-was-a-waste-of-time etc?

Do you have any comments/suggestions on the lectures (are they too slow/too disorganized/ too boring/too much fun etc..)

Do you have any suggestions on homeworks and projects? (give us more of them/give us fewer of them/make them more challenging/make them easy etc)

Do you have any suggestions/concerns on the help you are getting outside the class room (through TA/through instructor office hours/through the blog discussions etc)

Which of the following (if any) do you find useful: (a) recorded video of lectures (b) recorded audio of lectures (c) blog posts from other class students (d) tweetnotes. Feel free to elaborate

Anything else about the class you would like to express an opinion or offer a suggestion on?




What topics did you enjoy/like/get most out of until now?

       Discussion of which is important Precision or Recall?
Tf-IDF Computation -> The homework questions helped in understanding it better... Especially when implementing it in the project phase 1. So it was a real smooth learning curve.
LSI and Dimensionality Reduction. Especially the part in which Rao explains that Dim. Reduction is like cutting the limbs of a person!

       Reduction of dimensionality concept.

       Using tf/idf in IR and LSI

       SVD and Indexing

       I think the LSI has really allowed me to see applications of linear algebra relevant to CS. I was aware SVD could be used in such applications as lossy compression, but never knew it applied to IR.

       all of it really, LSI was particularly interesting (now i see a reason for linear algebra that i missed before), I felt like everything up until now has been very interesting and well done

       Advantages & Disadvantages of various similarity metrics .

       Seeing document and terms as vectors.

       Finding Association Clusters and there by finding similarity between two documents for clustering

       Search Engines, PageRank, Precision, REcall, Similarity.

       I enjoy all of the topics

       I liked all the topics covered till now. I know about eigen value decomposition and SVD; have used it in some projects as well, but the way Prof. Rao explained it in the class was the best learning exp.

       Vector Model, LSI

       correlation analysis..

       1. Precision \ Recall
2. use and need of IDF
3. Curse of dimesionality.
4. Why we do SVD and what do we mean by Latent factors.

       finding relevancy of document using similarity measures.

       Course overview Similarity metrics
Indexing, retrieval and tolerant dictionaries

       Consideration of example fish to explain Dimensionality Reduction and variation loss.



       Relevance, Correlation

       Similarity metrics, SVD.

       Our use of vector math.

       SVD /LSI

       Latent Semantic Indexing, Web Based IR- ranking Algorithms

       all topics. Specially Information Retrival and correlation

       Co-relation analysis and LSI

       I've actually enjoyed every major topic we've covered, and they have all been refreshingly new and relevant.

       I liked the topic of LSI and inverted index

       All of them


       I knew vector algebra is important but this class opened my eyes to a whole dimension.
Following are the topics I liked:
Similarity can be measured using Euclidean distance and Cosine similarity; Assuming terms in a document as vectors rather than bag of documents because vectors can be generalized;How having query logs gives the good old search engines an advantage over the others trying to get one;Bayesian a/c for spell correction;How dimensionality reduction helps us to calculate using LSI and how it cannot be used for Non Linear terms; every class has many things and I keep learning new things!!

       the topic about tf-idf way to search for the top related documents.

       Inverted Indexing,SVD.

       Each and every part !

       All of them

       I liked the lecturers on the way how retrieval algorithms got improved.From Binary to LSI.

       Similarity between documents and given query, Singular value decomposition, Tolerant Dictionaries

       I enjoyed almost all the topics .But the topics that I most enjoyed was doing IR on web.




What topics did you hate/got bored/felt-it-was-a-waste-of-time etc?

       Associative Clustering ( bored )... While browsing through the homework questions this looked unfamiliar...


       9/22's topic on IR for the Web was boring for me.

       non as of yet

       i feel like flipping between TF and normalized-TF without making a syntactic difference between the two is kind of annoying although that is more a correlation issue with homework/earlier classes/later classes/project than disliking a topic



       Mostly Linear Algebra related, because it's so hard to recall stuff I learned 3 years ago. I'm having trouble following LSI.


       None of the topics were a waste of time, though starting with LSI, the class is going a little fast..



       everything till now was really helpful.

       LSI - got bored. It was too mathematical that I missed the
whole point.

       Using three lectures in the start to give big themes of IR appeared long to me.

       Anchor Text; Page Importance Measures - I wouldn't call it boring but it was redundant for me since I knew most of it.


       not available

       I feel like sometimes the class gets caught up in the technical details of some of the math problems.

       SVD/LSI {Initially got bored} Reason I didn't understand it for the first time in the class. But thanks to videos they helped me a lot ,I have listened to L9 and L10 for 3 times to understand the concept.


       Introduction to course was little too lengthy

       I don't really understand the point of the tweetnotes-- as a study resource, I would rather turn to your slides or recorded lectures, as there are no guarantees the tweetnotes are complete or correct. As an assignment, I feel like they are more cumbersome than they are helpful, as the class material is complex enough that any post of the requested length is either an obvious restatement of the lecture material or a complete oversimplification.

       Initial classes were little more on philosophy, it was little boring, but it was not a waste of time.

       none of them


       None actually...like everything the part where you even asked us to read NY times.


       LSI (Got Bored)

       Linear algebra

       The theory topics seemed to be fine and were little boring

       Initial 3 lecturers were informative but since it was theoretical it was bit boring. But I could feel lot of effort was put to make it interesting and that was the maximum.




Do you have any comments/suggestions on the lectures (are they too slow/too disorganized/ too boring/too much fun etc..)

       One word... Dr. Rao is AMAZING...! He really cares... We get blog updates late in the night or early in the mornings and I am like does Rao sleep???
I do not read the newspaper.. But Rao's classes not only deals with IR but also New York Times :)
FUN: Especially the "SEXIEST MAN" joke.. ROFL!!!!

Well, I do hope my fun opinions remain the same even after mid-terms :)

Get to know something new in each class.

       Lectures are good.

       entertaining and helpful

       I feel the lectures are good, but sometimes I get lost as to what point is being made, particularly when the writing on the board is difficult to read or the point is breezed over quickly without explanation

       too much fun :) some lectures were difficult (LSI) but you prefaced them by sending out resources necessary to understand that lecture, and even then covered most of the material needed, which i really appreciated ( i had forgotten a good chunk of my linear algebra )

       More math explanations or detailed examples please

       They are perfect.

       Its very interesting and fun class.

       they are fun. but sometimes i would like a slower pace, specially for complex topics

       Give more numerical examples whenever explanations involve numbers.
Please write bigger on the board, it's really hard to see and interpret with small letters and numbers.

       You speak very fast. This makes understanding you sometimes very difficult. Also, a few slides have background colors that do not have a good contrasting text color. This makes it so I can't read what is on the slides.

       The lectures are definitely fun (One of the few classes where time flies). I feel that past couple of lectures are going fast; I am trying to come up to speed.

       It would be nice if we can recap/discuss the last lecture in class using an example/practical-real life situation. We do recap and you ask us questions but something like the discussion on precision-recall curves and what values they can or cannot take, made concepts clearer.

       Lectures are going good in terms of content and speed. I will prefer no change.

       Too much fun. There is always an excitement on tues and thus..

       the lectures are fun and thought provoking

       Some time we go on discussing certain examples beyond the point that we miss the track of topic under consideration, also it would make me boring.

       I would like to mention that sometimes the readings are too much to be done in the given time.

       Lectures are perfect. Maybe too much fun. If we need some serious information we can always go to the books. But the jokes are not there.

       Lectures are very interesting and enjoyable .. It's a different thing that i am unable to understand some of your jokes.

       The course is going too much fun until now. Professor is covering lot of concepts in a single lecture.

       I have thus far enjoyed the lectures and have no complaints.

       Math part should be explained more precisely.

       Lectures are the best and the lecture slides are by themselves exhaustive to prepare for home works, projects and exams

       perfect. This is probably one of the best class I ever had.

       Introduction for 2 to 3 classes was little slow

       I really enjoy that your lectures involve a much broader set of concepts than just programming and data retrieval. Pulling in outside ideas and references both makes the class more interesting and fleshes out my conception of the class material (because data retrieval involves humans searching for records of human activity, I feel like discussion of the human element is just as important as the math and programming.)

       It seems like the course is vast and has lot topics to cover, so there is lot of reading to be done. Yeah the class goes in little high pace.

       At times the lecture feels too fast, but when i get home and listen to the lecture again, i get to understand things better.

       Too much fun; every class is like an adventure and every Tuesday and Thursday are divine days for me.

       I think the lecture is a little quick, could you please slow down the speed of teaching and give us more time to think. Also, could you please slow down the speed tempo? As a foreigner, I feel a little stuck in class, and cannot catch the lecture very well.

       Most of the Lectures are really interesting and very much fun.

       Its just perfect!

       More time must have been spent on association clusters and examples. I know it would be too much to ask as a grad student , but it will surely help us have a better insight of how things work

       There is lot if fun in the lecturers. I feel lectures are fast and very informative. With in 1hour 15min there is lot of information given and this makes me curious to attend every class.

       Lectures are fun..Sometimes its hard to keep track of everything but after listening to the lecture again it becomes clear.



Do you have any suggestions on homeworks and projects? (give us more of them/give us fewer of them/make them more challenging/make them easy etc)

       Less of them please???


       Homeworks are just right as they are now, but I would also be OK with more homeworks, if they were made shorter. However, I have one complaint about the homeworks: please make problems and subproblems have different numbering schemes. For instance, if "Question 2" has four subproblems, call the subproblems a,b,c,d rather than 1,2,3,4!

       More programming of the algorithms

       For project part 1, I have already completed most of it and it would have been helpful to have had an explanation of how the content was indexed in the first place(ie which fields were terms indexed with), but overall, it is a good primer on computing tf/tf-idf and using lucene.

The first homework was reasonable

       just clarification before-hand of TF vs weighted TF. For project 1 it would have been nice to include the fact that we are using lucene 2.0 ( since "lucene api" on google brings up 2.4 , and searching any of the classes brings up a more recent version ) aside from that all good

       Less. With reading, tweeting, blogging, and reviewing background material it is difficult to keep up or to actually ruminate about the concepts and their implications.

       Give us fewer of them :)

       Homework till now mostly is about computations which is mostly spend on dividing or matrix multiplying.

       I would like to have an answer key after the submission to correct the mistakes I made.

       A little easier, and some hints.

       I feel rushed when it comes to the homework and projects. I probably feel this way because it's difficult for me to grasp all of the concepts in the lectures due to only understanding a portion of what is said.

       HW # 1 was good. The project part # 1 is still challenging.

       number of HW and proj are good enough.

       more homeworks...

       Going good as it is.

       i think its good ..not more not less.

       they are good the way they are

       Tweeting everyday is fine, but it has gone to a level where I need to search to get good points. May be we can reduce the amount of tweets or remove trivial once.

       I would like to point to the 2nd homework. It was given on Tuesday and we were asked to finish it by Thursday to be able to ask doubts if any in class. Just one day in between was too difficult to wrap it up. Somehow I finished but we weren't asked to submit either. It would have been better if we were given a little more time. At the same time I do understand that Professor wanted it to be in flow.

       The current schedule is awesome. Homework and project are related. If we do hw's we will get best idea of project.

       I only wish we had a longer grace period in which to post the tweetnotes. I usually only have free time on the weekend, so anything with a due date of less than a week is often troublesome for me. I've already posted two or three of these late.

       Give few of them and make those few challenging.

       2nd and 3rd Phase of Projects should be group based as most students can work better as a group.

       homeworks are fine and adequate. In general, Home works should be harder than exam questions.

Regarding projects, we need more guidance in IR related APIs just like lucene.

       Would prefer to have lesser assignments but challenging projects and assignment questions if contribute to projects would be great.

       I have had an unusual amount of trouble with the last project, but this may just because I have not had to use Java in a very long time, and no other class has had me work with a provided library before. I would personally prefer to have a larger number of smaller programming assignments, preferably with forgiving grading. (This may be due to a personal preference for a "try-it-and-see" approach to learning, though.)

       Home works and projects are good and this is the only way one can learn. Yea little gap among the deadlines is appreciated.

       Homework is interesting and enjoyable except if one is not as sharp in programming, it could be frustrating and ends up being too much work for points.

       Our life is perfect the way it is, for now.

       Doing homework along with working on the project helped me a great deal:) but I felt the homework problems were too lengthy

       I suggest give us not to much homework pert time and can enhance the times of homework.

       Give us Fewer but make them more challenging.

       Little hectic but fun to work on,helps understanding the subject bettter

       Homeworks and Projects are challenging. But since I am new to programming and java I am finding it little bit tough to implement the concepts in java.



Do you have any suggestions/concerns on the help you are getting outside the class room (through TA/through instructor office hours/through the blog discussions etc)

       I hope this feedback is actually anonymous!

       Have been helped whenever had a doubt.

       better documentation on the projest meaning the tools that should be used ie lucene javadoc that go with the chosen jar

       TA promptly replied to emails.

       office hours typically don't work for me, but i haven't had an issue that required me to go so far ( and occasionally they change to just before class, which is nice )



       I heard it has been really hard to get help outside of class because no hints were given, except from peers.


       Sushovan is very helpful.



       no suggestions till now.


       Call tweets and blog concept is good. I am learning new thing from them as every one are actively participating in them.


       Very helpful, motivating and painstaking effort by the professor

       absolutely fine. If possible I would like to have discussion on IR softwares/APIs by TA. and some helpful hands-on also before taking project exposures.

       No. Good knowledge provided through out of class resources

       I've found the TA very accessible and helpful, and I'm glad that the Lecture slides are easily available on your website.

       No concerns, all good here!

       The tweet notes are extremely helpful to review key information. Having credits for them motivates me to listen to the lecture more to find relevant information to tweet about.

       Blog discussions have not helped great deal. Students donot engage in a discussion as the name suggests.

       Could you please eahance TA office hours 2 times than before?

       I haven't had much interaction with the TA.

       TA has been helpful for the project, I got immediate reply for my mails.
One suggestion I have on office hours of both Prof and TA is it would be better to have between 3 15 and 4 15 on Tuesday and Thursday. Otherwise we have to travel from home to BY just for asking a 10min query.




Which of the following (if any) do you find useful: (a) recorded video of lectures (b) recorded audio of lectures (c) blog posts from other class students (d) tweetnotes. Feel free to elaborate

       (a), (d)

       (a) recorded video

       The tweetnotes are too hard to my mind to filter through. There are already hundreds of them, and there are a very limited number per page.

       a, b, the tweets not so much because a lot of it seems like its regurgitation of slides provided

       All is helpful, it is nice to have such an open course and I am glad that you maintain a public site that I can refer to later.

       the video is nice, although it should be compressed, one can download a full length movie in just shy of movie quality for the low price of 1GB, the course videos should ideally not be larger than that.

audio lectures i haven't used, i have sufficient bandwidth to download the video lectures, but it takes longer than i'd like so i'll whine about it :)

blog posts/tweetnotes i don't really read

       I LOVE recorded audio. I like the video as well but the quality is not 100% reliable. Blogs are interesting. Tweetnotes actually do refresh memories but I have my doubts about the accuracy. Most of the time the comments are salient but the pressure to tweet forces some too obvious or already addressed comments. Perhaps the requirement to tweet 2/3rds of classes is too high a number.

       b) because once lecture is over listening again makes the topic more clear.

       Recorded audio and Video( when you do not understand the slides with audio + slides)

       video and audio are awesome. I personally feel tweetnotes are not very useful as students just copy paste things from the slides to increase the no. of tweets sent

       Tweets and blog posts.

       The recorded video and audio of the lectures are useful. What would be most useful for me would be subbed videos.

The blog posts and tweetnotes are useless to me. I understand where they can be useful to some, but I don't enjoy reading someone's opinion of a topic when they are not considered an "expert" on the subject. There is too much of a probability of me reading something that isn't exactly true, and then remembering the incorrect rather than the correct information.

       (a) I have not seen video lectures so far, hence cannot comment.
(b) Its very helpful. I can go back and listen to the lecture again whenever I have doubt/question in any topic.
(c) Sometimes.
(d) I am afraid to say, but I could not understand the importance/usefulness of tweetnotes.

       Video lectures are very very helpful.
Class blogs can have more discussions on what has been taught in class instead of what latest changes are being made in google.

       audio lectures..

       Video\ Audio lectures.

       I think facebook group ( "CSE598 IR")is also a good idea,it has a good look and feel and as most of us are always there on facebook..

       recorded video lectures are a great help. Watching the lectures after the class strengthens understanding and also makes sure that no point is missed.

       Recorded video n audio.

       (a) this is the life line i depend on for this course. I understand only 60% of the contents in class. Only when I revise it with the video, I understand 85%(a lot better).

       I don't find any of them useful.

       (a) and (d)

       videos of lectures,
blog and tweet notes.

       Video and audio copies of any lecture our incredibly useful when stuck on a problem at 3 in the morning and there is no other resource available. The tweetnotes, if not for anything else are a great incentive to pay attention and take notes, but it's sometimes difficult to find the time shortly after class to post them.

       I am a slow learner and I take my own time to understand stuff properly and then when I plan of writing something on tweetnotes somebody will already post which I want to write there. And on top of it some
tweetnotes confuse me a lot. And I should thank you professor for providing video lectures it helps me a lot.

       (a), (d)

       a) tweet notes b) recorded video lecture c) PPT d) blog spots
e) audio lectures ( if internet is not so fast)

       Recorded Video Lectures is extremely good. It helps to a very great extent in revising what has been covered


       All are good, but again its too much information to manage. But it will definitely help to revise what was been done in the class

       Video lectures, the blog and the tweet notes are very helpful in reviewing class information.

       a)Please dont stop video recording is the only request I have for this class b)No comments c)They are very confusing; I remember you telling us the first class that you would want to see student participation, I notice that students repost lot of things and donot actively engage in the discussion.
d)I find many things that students post very ambiguous; I think students should think twice before posting some stuff and students see this as an opportunity to score rather than learn from each others understanding


       a) Recorded video lectures ---- very USEFUL
b) recorded audio of lectures----very useful
c) blog posts---Informative
d) tweet notes---Confusing

       The video and the tweet notes are really helpful

       audio and video of lectures.It must have been great if ASu provided the audio and video recording as the recordings posted requires us to stay at the univ and listen to them as the buffering is very slow


       Recorded video of lectures...
Recorded audio of lectures...



Anything else about the class you would like to express an opinion or offer a suggestion on?

       I am a little scared to ask questions in the class because I suspect the intelligence of my questions... On a scale of 0 - 10 mine are like 2.5. There is the class participation marks that I am worried about.. FYI I am doing my part in tweets and blogs. So, do I have to worry about the class participation if I do not ask questions in class?

       I wish the classroom wasn't so crowded, but I don't think there's anything you can do about that.

       Singling out students for being late or missing class etc is unfair. At least for me, occasionally stuff happens(traffic, held up in meetings, personal matters...) that is out of my control.

       great professor so far, I appreciate all the effort you clearly put into preparing for the class :]

       Nope. you are doing great job please continue.

many a times when we ask a question during the class, the professor tries to answer it without listening to the full question. many times it so happens that the answer is not the one we were looking for

       It is one of the best classes I have ever attended.

       Your explanations of topics are really good. Especially liked the lecture where you discussed why we are using SVD.

       Video lectures are too big in size. I suppose it is due to mp4 recording from Camera. Downloading videos will be a practical thing to do if they have a smaller size. (Something like using AVI convertor)

       no suggestions as of now..

       the classes are great. I am glad that I took this course. you are a wonderful teacher.

       Few topics are easy and few are difficult to comprehend. It would be helpful to fluctuate the speed based on the difficulty than driving in same speed.

       I am happy with the fact that professor makes so much effort to quote examples and other relevant materials from all over the web to ensure that the students understand the concepts. The flow of discussions and lectures are also very systematic. I like the fact that he starts the class 15mins early sometimes to have some buffer time for the questions. I am impressed by the teaching style. Thank you Professor.

       I would not like to submit tweetnotes. It takes away time and FOCUS that I could be using somewhere else.

       I have a small suggestion about the course, I would like to request professor to give a brief idea about the topics discussed as the summary in the last week of course. So that we will end up with a best idea about where we are.
This is one of the best course in ASU.

       The homework and projects are a little long for an undergraduate course. This is really a minor drawback to an otherwise interesting and enjoyable course.

       Can you make sure that a student can post only one tweetnotes per class.


       Twitter notes seem to be really boring as its the same content that has been covered (i know its purpose of creation but cant see anything useful out of it) but blog comments have been good

       I have thoroughly enjoyed the class so far, and hope that I will be able to find ways to put the material into practice-- searching and clustering seem like they have great potential to be used in small, interesting personal projects. I would be interested to hear more concrete ways in which the material could be used as we cover it.

       Its wonderful class.

       Lectures are very interesting. I appreciate the approach of making us think what should we be doing. Sometimes, when asked to apply the Ideas, we are unable to connect one with another. It would be great If a review lecture could be provided just to make sense all we learned till now put together and why we did it all.

Thank you.

       you are god!! I was very confused whether to enroll or not for this class but I am very happy and lucky that I stuck on;Your passion in teaching is a driving force for students like me and more. So far I am liking the course big time but sometimes feel this is taking too much of my week`s time but still happy for that :)
I have given an honest view of my own and I hope this doesnot hurt Dr. Rao and the students.
Thanks for making us fill this opinion poll.

       Could you please assign extra homework or project to give us chance of bonus of points?

       Your class is really motivating. Hope it continues that way.

       This by far is the Best class with the best Professor,Amazing!!

       Suggesting more readings will be helpful