Jonathan Katz

4 reviews
Average rating: 4.00

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Expecting an A-
Anonymous 12/26/2012
I give Dr. Katz a 4 out of 5 because, all things considered, he was a pretty good professor in a lot of ways. First of all, his lectures and the content of the course follow his textbook almost to the letter so you have something concrete that you can use to follow along with the course. That being said, I found the book to be a bit dry and ambiguous at certain points (especially the 3rd chapter) and it definitely took a lot of getting used to. Still, it's a pretty solid book (especially considering that it's the first proof based undergrad crypto textbook on the market) and Katz does a good job of following the content well. Another of Katz's strengths is that he's VERY open to taking questions and will elegantly field even the dumbest possible questions you could ever imagine. In all seriousness though, he's always willing to take questions and clarify points. Given that crypto is a pretty comprehensive and complex subject this is very important and very helpful. Now for (what I thought were) the not-so-good aspects of Katz's teaching style. For one thing, I personally found that the way he communicated just wasn't very easy to learn from. It wasn't just that the course was hard either -- I found that even when Katz lectured on stuff that I already knew that the message he was trying to get across was vague and difficult to wrap one's head around. It's hard to explain -- that's just how I felt about his teaching style. Also, I felt that his homeworks were a huge pain and didn't really help very much to get across the content of the course. Most of the questions were taken from the exercises in the book and they took FOREVER and were graded pretty (to be frank, VERY) harshly by the TA. Overall, I recommend Katz for CMSC/MATH 456. I personally don't think he's the best lecturer out there but I learned a ton in his class and I know for a fact that you're going to learn a LOT more from him than you are from Fitzgerald or the other math crypto professor.

Expecting a C
Anonymous 12/23/2012
Professor: Seems like a great guy. He does his lectures on a whiteboard and doesn't post any notes online. As a whole his lectures are good and worth going too. He likes answering questions and will schedule a meeting with you if you need extra help (and ask for it). Coursework: We only had homework, the midterm, and the final. The homework's are challenging, are graded hard, and are a big part of your grade. I would recommend trying to team up with another person in class to work on them or to stop by the TA's office hours (I did neither). The midterm and the final were medium difficulty. He doesn't give any practice tests to study, so study the book and the book problems...hard. Grades: He does some kinda of curve with the homework's, not sure what. The midterm and the final cut offs might be changed depending on how the class did overall. No extra work or credit will be given, so study hard for the midterm and the final. If you do badly on either, you have a good chance of failing the class. Bottom Line? Don't underestimate the homework's or the tests and you can do well in this class. My C grade was due to a poor midterm grade and some of my poor homework grades. This is a great senior class because of the low workload (homework's are spaced around with one to two weeks breaks in between, and you only have two tests). But don't take this class if your the type that does badly on tests.

Expecting an A
rockinbassman 06/22/2012
Prof. Katz is a pretty good CS teacher. He teaches on the board and does not just read off of a powerpoint. The midterm was moderately difficult, but the final was in-class, online, all multiple choice and was easy. Projects and homeworks were cool, but honestly there could have been more (assuming you actually liked the topics) Biggest issue with this class is that 50% of the people come in with not a clue about any of the topics and with no security background and the other 50% has experience and knows a bit already. This makes the class either too easy/boring OR too hard/too fast. Can't make everyone happy, but this gap can make the class less enjoyable.

Expecting an A
Anonymous 12/19/2009
He's on OK professor. I didn't really go to class because it was boring (not the prof's fault). But he put up the slides online. Exams are actually pretty easy but everyone does badly on them (trust me, I'm no genius). The projects/homeworks are awesome and entertaining (best part of the class). The course gives you a good overview of things, although a good 25% of the course seems common sense.