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MIT student blogger Lulu L. '09

So, uh… help me pick classes by Lulu L. '09

I have no classes.

It was as bad as I suspected it would be. Turns out I have 5 hasses and no science class.

Help me pick a science class!

Help me seriously drop some HASS’s!

Currently registered: (choose 2)

21W.747 Rhetoric

Undergrad (Fall, Spring) HASS-D, Category 2 Communication Intensive HASS
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.
Remove from schedule Recitation: MW3-4.30 (12-134) or TR11-12.30 (12-134) or TR1-2.30 (12-134)
For students with a special interest in learning how to make forceful arguments in written form. Studies the forms and structures of argumentation, including organization of ideas, awareness of audience, methods of persuasion, evidence, factual vs. emotional argument, figures of speech, and historical forms and uses of arguments.
more information…
Fall: S. Strang, L. Perelman, M. Poe
Spring: S. Strang, L. Perelman


21W.740 Writing Autobiography and Biography

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Remove from schedule Lecture: W EVE (7-10 PM) (14N-112)
Writing an autobiography is a vehicle for improving one’s style while studying the nuances of the language. Literary works are read with an emphasis on different forms of autobiography. Students examine various stages of life, significant transitions, personal struggles, and memories translated into narrative prose, and discuss: what it means for autobiographer and biographer to develop a personal voice; and the problems of reality and fiction in autobiography and biography.
K. Manning

21M.460 MIT Senegalese Drum Ensemble

Undergrad (Fall, Spring) Can be repeated for credit
Prereq: None
Units: 0-3-3
Remove from schedule Lecture: M EVE (7-10 PM) (N52-199)
A performance ensemble focusing on the sabar drumming tradition of Senegal, West Africa. Study and rehearse Senegalese drumming techniques and spoken word. Perform in conjunction with MIT Rambax drumming group. No previous experience necessary, but prior enrollment in 21M.030 or 21M.293 strongly recommended. Enrollment limited to 20 students by audition.
L. Toure

21W.762 Poetry Workshop

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Elective Can be repeated for credit
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Remove from schedule Lecture: W EVE (7-10 PM) (56-167)
For students with some previous experience in poetry writing. Frequent assignments stress use of language, diction, word choice, line breaks, imagery, mood, and tone. Considers the functions of memory, imagination, dreams, poetic impulses. Throughout the term, students examine the work of published poets. Revision stressed.
E. Funkhouser

21H.601 Islam, the Middle East, and the West

Undergrad (Fall) HASS-D, Category 5
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.
Add to schedule Lecture: MWF11 (2-146) +final
Provides students with an overview of basic themes and issues in Middle Eastern history from the rise of Islam to the present, with an emphasis on exchanges and encounters between the Middle East and Europe/North America. Examines the history of the notion of “East” and “West”; the emergence of Islam and the Christianization of Europe; Ottoman expansion and the flourishing of European powers; European competition with and colonization of Middle Eastern societies, and Middle Eastern responses.
more information…
B. Der Matossian


Poetry and autobiography are obviously scheduled for the same block. One of those has got to go. I will probably keep drumming if I make it in auditions. Islam happens at the same time as both my choices for the last remaining requirement for my physics degree (aside from my thesis): 8.07 or 8.351 (my sub for 8.09), so that’s probably not going to happen. Out of those HASS’s, I need 2. I’m still missing 1 HASS-D for graduation, 4 HASS classes total, and 2 writing classes for my concentration. HASS requirements are one of the most painfully complicated things currently at MIT. So what classes should I pick? 1 HASS-D preferably, and the other a writing for my concentration. Not a whole lot of freedom. Let this be a lesson.

Classes I wouldn’t mind adding:

8.351J Classical Mechanics: A Computational Approach

Graduate (Fall) H-Level Grad Credit
(Same subject as 6.946J, 12.620J)
(Subject meets with 12.008)
Prereq: Physics I (GIR), 18.03, 6.01
Units: 3-3-6
Remove from schedule Lecture: MWF11 (54-317) Lab: TBA
Classical mechanics in a computational framework, Lagrangian formulation, action, variational principles, and Hamilton’s principle. Conserved quantities, Hamiltonian formulation, surfaces of section, chaos, and Liouville’s theorem. Poincare integral invariants, Poincare-Birkhoff and KAM theorems. Invariant curves and cantori. Nonlinear resonances, resonance overlap and transition to chaos. Symplectic integration. Adiabatic invariants. Applications to simple physical systems and solar system dynamics. Extensive use of computation to capture methods, for simulation, and for symbolic analysis. Students taking the graduate version complete additional assignments.
J. Wisdom, G. J. Sussman


18.700 Linear Algebra

Undergrad (Fall) Rest Elec in Sci & Tech
Prereq: Calculus II (GIR)
Units: 3-0-9
Credit cannot also be received for 18.06
Remove from schedule Lecture: TR11-12.30 (4-163) +final
Vector spaces, systems of linear equations, bases, linear independence, matrices, determinants, eigenvalues, inner products, quadratic forms, and canonical forms of matrices. More emphasis on theory and proofs than in 18.06.
J. McKernan

18.353J Nonlinear Dynamics I: Chaos

Undergrad (Fall)
(Same subject as 2.050J, 12.006J)
Prereq: 18.03 or 18.034; Physics II (GIR)
Units: 3-0-9
Remove from schedule Lecture: MW12.30-2 (2-105)
Introduction to nonlinear dynamics and chaos in dissipative systems. Forced and parametric oscillators. Phase space. Periodic, quasiperiodic, and aperiodic flows. Sensitivity to initial conditions and strange attractors. Lorenz attractor. Period doubling, intermittency, and quasiperiodicity. Scaling and universality. Analysis of experimental data: Fourier transforms, Poincare sections, fractal dimension, and Lyapunov exponents. Applications to mechanical systems, fluid dynamics, physics, geophysics, and chemistry. See 12.207J/18.354J for Nonlinear Dynamics II.
EAPS staff

8.07 Electromagnetism II

Undergrad (Fall)
Prereq: 8.03, 18.03
Units: 4-0-8
Add to schedule Lecture: MWF11 (6-120) Recitation: R2 (24-115) or R3 (24-115) +final
Survey of basic electromagnetic phenomena: electrostatics, magnetostatics; electromagnetic properties of matter. Time-dependent electromagnetic fields and Maxwell’s equations. Electromagnetic waves, emission, absorption, and scattering of radiation. Relativistic electrodynamics and mechanics.
J. Egedal-Pedersen

Why not 18.06? Just cause I feel like I’ve learned most of what I need to know in terms of practical linear algebra after the quantum sequence and 18.700 is more theoretical. But also, I hear it kinda sucks. Some people like it.

8.07 and 8.351 conflict. 8.321 quantum theory definitely won’t fit into my schedule although it looked interesting. I’ve gotten permission to go ahead with 8.351 for my physics degree restricted electives (8.07 8.08 or 8.09, choose 1, it subs for 8.09, which I’ve also heard is quite tedious from almost everyone who’s taken it). At this point- senior year, that is- most students have the option to start breaking into the grad courses and some kids really load up on those. Me, I don’t know, I figure as long as there is still basic physics I’m not completely comfortable with, the grad classes can wait. There’s still grad school. So, only one of those courses is grad level. Choose 2.

21 responses to “So, uh… help me pick classes”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I hear rhetoric is a very hit-or-miss class, depending on who is teaching it.

  2. lulu says:

    i’ve tried rhetoric once before and didn’t like it. there are 3 sections, I plan on shopping around a bit.

  3. V says:

    the last batch sounds miserable. i vote for poetry and memoiring!

  4. DrBurst says:

    Try to keep Rhetoric, it seems to a useful class.

  5. photon says:

    Go for Sussman and Wisdom. How often do you get to take a class taught by two professors who are the very best at what they do?

  6. Daniel says:

    I agree, Senegalese Drum Ensemble fo’ sho. Other than that, I think the awesomeness of the Poetry professor’s name gives that course an edge over autobiography.

  7. SR says:

    I vote 12.008 (or whatever number you use, it’s the classical mech class). Wisdom and Sussman are supposed to work very well together, and both are reputed to be awesome teachers. I will be taking it myself next year.

  8. i’m down with the ‘there’s plenty of time for grad classes in grad school’. in that spirit, if you already know 18.06 stuff then to my mind the most broadly useful are 8.07 and 18.353. i could see 18.700 being good if you’re quite keen on abstract algebra or want to do particle phenomenology/theory, but then in either case i’d just go for 18.701. 8.351 sounds like its computational/numerical component overlaps quite a lot with 18.353, except that 8.351 1) includes a few more mathematical topics and 2) is in scheme (so harder to apply elsewhere) instead of matlab. if you are comfortable with basic numerical methods, fourier transforms, runge-kutta, etc., 18.353 may be too easy (though it is quite cool to do all the historical chaos theory stuff). then i’d go for 8.351. otherwise – and don’t get me wrong, i think classical mechanics and poincare birkhoff are pretty awesome – the physics part of 8.351 sounds like it’s best if you know you want to do planetary dynamics or classical general relativity and maybe not so useful if not.

  9. Ahana says:

    Hass sounds like a hassle :-( but I’d love 8.351J and 18.353J… Coz you’re a Physics major, I’d say leggo of Rhetoric and Poetry…

  10. Ehsan says:

    I cant believe your actually asking us for your opinion! I say do whatever has the strongest relation with your passion-whatever that might be.

  11. Piper says:

    HASS’s are wonderful! I like the HASS requirement, because though I want to major in biological engineering (or something related), I also have interests in linguistics, anthropology, music, etc… and it’s nice that MIT frees up that space =).

    Though some people fulfill most of their HASS requirement with econ, which is heavily math-based. So there’s an out too, I suppose =P.

  12. Piper says:

    Woops, forgot to write my reply to the actual entry…

    As for these HASS classes, if you really like the subject matter for all of them, the next thing you might consider is time..? I don’t like evening classes, though I don’t know if you do.

    As for the sciences, I would totally take something with “Chaos” in the title wink.

  13. JU says:

    That nonlinear dynamics / chaos course in the EAPS dept.
    I have my eye on that… xD

  14. lulu says:

    yeah it’s deceptive, but it’s not actually in the EAPS department nor is it taught by EAPS staff, it’s taught by a mechanical engineer.

  15. Rebecca says:

    tou xiang…hope i spelled that right!
    umm…. idk? they all look hard? good luck! =D

  16. Hi lulu,

    I just took a class on art history, it was very interesting and what caught my eye was the mathematics that developed in history to create these paintings. So i would choose Islamic history it is interesting to see how people develop. As for physics and math, I would highly recommend taking a math course. All of Physics is based on math and even in graduate courses, you will not be introduced to the rigorous math that formed the basis for the theory. I would actually suggest taking Nonlinear dynamics (I suspect that it is not proof oriented). But if you are more interested in modern physics, than take linear algebra but only if you can understand the proofs. In courses that emphasize proof, I highly suggest that you take an analysis course first. like 18.100 a/b. Another good course is abstract algebra, Group theory is very important in elementary particle physics. I am a physics major and math minor, by the way. Definitely take a math course that relates to physics over a course on pure physics.

  17. One more thing. If you are really on the borderline of deciding, choose the harder course. If you are really ambitious you can always audit any of these courses. Most professors don’t care if random people walk in to class, they don’t notice. Of course look into mit policy on auditing courses.

  18. lulu says:

    i’ve never learned anything as a listener though, I just kinda start seeing it as the thing I could skip if I have a lot of work or if I need to catch up on sleep. I’ve been here long enough to know that listener status doesn’t work for me.

    On the other hand, I went to nonlinear dynamics and I didn’t like it at all. I think I will do 8.07 an 8.09.

  19. Well thats a good choice. Im actually taking those classes too this fall.

  20. lulu says:

    p.s. i’ve taken abstract algebra though it certainly wouldn’t hurt to actually learn.