Fall 2004 Grade Gloat

COMP 615, Computer Science: Advanced Theory of Computability: A

I murdered the curve in this class: my 92.5% on the final was a full 9% higher than the closest competitor. The median was 58%.

My cumulative score for the course was 87%, which was 8% higher than the second-place finisher. The median was 53%.

I was the only “A” in the class — the others in the top 4 had to settle for an “A-“, and there’s tarnish there.

The Prof. makes no effort to try to tune the tests to the 90-100=A, etc. rule, but just makes them super hard (“to separate the men from the boys”) and then curves as needed to get the letter grade, presumably picking the grade breaks based on his qualitative assessment of a student’s achievement. I like to try to make it to 90%, all the same. I did it on the final, but missed it by a few points on the cumulative score.

The great thing is, this subject is one that I never studied in school at Georgia Tech (well, minor parts were touched on, but nothing remotely near this depth), so I’m not cheating by using any greybeard knowledge — I just flat-out out-competed them at learning new stuff.

Question 1 was in two parts, and the Professor had given us a hint in the second part: we could answer the question by adding two non-terminal symbols to the generative grammar from the first part. I couldn’t figure out a way to do it in less than three, but we weren’t required to do it in two, so I just answered the question and moved on, because finishing the test on time is one of the hard parts of this class.

Later, at home, I looked at it some more, and finally wrote my Prof. an e-mail, asking him how he could possibly be doing it in two — wouldn’t (a certain bad thing) happen? He wrote back to say that I was right to be skeptical, because the way that he’d been thinking of doing it wouldn’t have worked with two symbols — you needed three. But then (perhaps because he’s as insanely competitive as myself) he felt that the gantlet had been thrown down, and figured out a way to do it with only two new symbols.

I laughed out loud when I saw his solution: he’d added a rule that said if one of the symbols was duplicated and adjacent (e.g. CC) then it would act like a different symbol (e.g. D). So he had to kludge it in very slightly, but he was able to meet the letter of the requirement.


COMP 595VAV, Software Engineering: Verification and Validation: A

I’ll be forever grateful to CSUN for breaking my once-crippling fear of Public Speaking. I was in good form for my individual presentation in this class, and the Prof’s notes were actually pretty great:

Excellent presentation. Interesting paper and ideas were well-explained.
Well organized. Good presentation style, but spoke a little too softly.
More eye contact would help.

Content:      10/10
Organization: 10/10
Visual Aids:   9/10
Delivery:      9/10

Total: 38/40 = 95%

I had realized about 7/8 of the way through the presentation that I wasn’t making eye contact — too late to fix it. I was surprised by the “too soft” comment; I had thought that I was really belting it out. So that’s valuable feedback.

The median score that I received from my peer reviewers was 92.5% — not bad. Several students went out of their way to tell me how much they’d enjoyed it, one even running over to be sure to tell me.

I had had the highest grade in the class on the mid-term, but felt weirdly logy and off my game during the final exam. In the end, I came in 4th place on the final exam, earning an 89% (there was one 90% and two 91%).

For the course overall, I had the top score of 91.25% (the next-highest overall score was 89.00%).

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