Clyde Kruskal

This professor has taught: CMSC250, CMSC250H, CMSC351, CMSC451, CMSC452
Information Review
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
08/04/2022
This man is simply bad at his job. Grades take forever to get back, the class structure is abysmal, and homework/lecture material often has little to do with the ruthless exams. I could go on, but the other reviews pretty much accurately put things into perspective. "You teach your students? I torture mine." -Literally overheard Dr. Kruskal saying this to another faculty member and I don't think I've heard anything more accurate. He may be smart, but this man should not be teaching. Avoid at all costs.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
01/06/2022
I honestly don't understand all the hate Kruskal gets. I thought his lectures were usually pretty easy to follow and he is willing to clarify any confusion during class. The homework can sometimes be frustrating but he allows us to work in groups which I would highly recommend doing. He is also a nice professor to talk to after class or during office hours. The thing I feel drags down his overall perception is his exams. The exams expect that you will be able to come up with efficient algorithms that are different than ones seen on the homework which makes them difficult to study for. You can't just memorize and regurgitate information from class and expect to do well, but if that was the case, I think it could defeat the whole point of the class. Overall his class is pretty difficult but it's definitely possible to get a good grade and I believe the content is worthwhile learning.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
12/28/2021
Kruskal's okay I guess. He's a pretty cool guy to talk to, but the class was disorganized, the TAs were kinda ruthless, and the exams were crazy. If you're gonna take 351, just take Teli if you can. If you have to take Kruskal, try to keep your grade above 50%. If your grade dips below that you're almost guaranteed to fail.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a C+
Anonymous
12/27/2021
- He pre-records pretty much all of his lectures. Sometimes the lectures are clear and well-made, but mostly he uses in-class recordings from a couple of years ago, which can be frustrating to watch because of poor audio. The actual content of his lectures are OK though, and I'd say he's overall a decent lecturer. - The class sessions are used to go over assignments and any extra ramblings. This flipped classroom approach seems nice at first, but the problem is that he assigns a quiz that is due before every class, so you pretty much have to dedicate an hour or two before the class to actually watch the lecture and take the quiz, in addition to the time that you're already spending on homework assignments and studying. - Exams are crap. Averages are usually in the mid 50s, and make up around 80-85% of your grade (the rest of your grade comes from homework/pre-class quizzes). The fortunate side of this is that Kruskal grades with a huge curve, so you're usually not at risk of outright failing if you're doing about average. In the past, exams used to be based heavily on homeworks, but that seems to have changed this semester, with exams having new problems that are only loosely based on previous homeworks. He also seems to have added a number of different topics this semester that he doesn't usually cover, and this was particularly frustrating because many of the TAs and GSS leaders did not have any familiarity with the material at the tail-end of the semester. - He outsources pretty much all of his course operations to his TAs, aside from lectures and homework/exam writing. This was probably one of the most frustrating parts of the course, because the TA team is woefully understaffed and left most of our homeworks ungraded until after finals week. I do not understand how 330 had almost 20 TAs and 351 has barely 10, most of whom are other undergrads who have obligations with their own courses. Seriously, this is one of the most ridiculous parts of this class - please hire more TAs. - Kruskal himself is a nice guy and is flexible + willing to help. I would highly encourage people to go to the actual classes/lectures to stay engaged and to get help from him directly. Tl;dr - Kruskal is a nice guy and a decent lecturer overall. This class is highly disorganized, has difficult exams, far too few TAs, and content that is pretty boring and occasionally difficult to understand. If you can take this course with Justin or Teli, take it with them.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
12/26/2021
Very interesting professor in my opinion. He started prerecording lectures for recent semesters which seems to be better in my opinion. He said that he will redo the ones with poor audio quality for future semesters. Basically, all of the actual content is covered in these videos. Class time is for going over homeworks, quizzes, exams, etc, and tangents about interesting puzzles. I highly recommend going to class because I think it helps you practice how to find solutions. The quizzes were often dumb gotchas, but there is one every class, they total like 6% of your grade, and a significant portion of them (maybe around 5) are dropped. Exams are pretty gnarly. Average is usually between 50% and 60%. We had way too few TAs. We had about 10 out of 17 homeworks ungraded on the day of the final exam, which is unacceptable. Kruskal is pretty helpful in office hours and is much more generous with partial credit than the TAs.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
12/26/2021
Ave =61%, STD=17%, fail cutoff = 49%, what do you mean that equals 1/4 of the class fails. Other than the extreme cut-off, and how low the exam aves are. Horrible prof, lectures are half tangents that don't relate to cs or anything academic. Explains things poorly. Class is unorganized, our syllabus was finalized day grades are due. He leaves almost everything outside of lect to TAs.He writes his exams the morning of. Half our assignments got graded the day after grades are due. The list goes on
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B+
vchari
12/19/2021
Rambling. Terrible recordings. Doesn't interact /want to with students.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B
Anonymous
12/18/2021
Kruskal is honestly not a bad professor, but the problem is he's not really organized. When he comes to class prepared, his lectures are really good, otherwise he just spends time talking about other concepts which can be cool, but they don't really matter too much. My biggest problem is the TAs. It honestly seemed like they were working against us, trying to look for any reason to take as many points off as possible. Kruskal is way more understanding than them, and he's actually easier to talk to. I just wish he would do a bit more, like making the grading rubric for exams instead of letting the TAs do it.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
11/10/2021
Had him for 351/451. Got a B+ in both classes. Clyde is extremely lazy. When asked to go over some homework problems he may flat out refuse because it's too much work. Best thing you can do is form study groups and learn from other students. Pretty cool guy overall.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a C-
Anonymous
08/11/2021
Avoid this man at all costs. If I could go lower than 1 star I would. Don't listen to any of the reviews for this man that are above 3 stars. All of his lectures are pre-recorded from either a packed lecture hall where all you can hear is the students' coughing, or from his bedroom at 240p quality with tin-can audio that only plays in one ear. His "class times" were just 1 to 1.5 hours of him doing problems that are irrelevant to the lecture or homework material. The homework material was always based on an advanced version of lecture material that you did not learn how to do. The two exams (for my semester) were a grand total of 80% of the final grade, were 6 questions, and consisted of problems 5 levels above what you learn from class material and that I'm pretty sure he cooked up in his evil layer with the specific purpose of making you cry. Our midterm average as a class was a 44. The final exam average as a class was never released, but the entire class' grades were so bad that they lowered the final C range to a 41 in the class. The previous semester had their 'C' range lowered to a 50, which is apparently the normal passing range for his classes. Alongside all of this, Kruskal does not answer emails or his phone. He hardly ever responds to the TA's, but every single bit of communication to you comes through the TA's including his "office hours" which is actually just "TA hours." To top it all off at the end of the semester, Kruskal posted incorrect letter grades to everyone's transcripts based on our unweighted number grades. More than half the class had 'D' or 'F' posted to their transcripts when they had actually passed with a 'C' or higher. It has been over one month since the class has ended and the Chair of Computer Science as well as the Dean of Computer Science have just admitted that they can't fix students' grades because Kruskal will not answer his phone or emails to confirm with anyone from the school that he messed up. Because of this, many students from the class got deregistered from their next semester's classes because they currently (and incorrectly) do not meet pre-requisite requirements. Summary of this review: Kruskal does not care about the students. He is a tenured professor that is forced to show up and provide "something" to his students. He does not care if anyone learns the material, he will not communicate with you, and he seems to enjoy causing immense stress. This class material is already extremely difficult for even for the smartest Algorithm students, yet Kruskal manages to make it exponentially more difficult and stressful. Avoid this man and anything he teaches at all costs for as long as you live. Go to another school to fill this requirement if you have to. It is not worth it to fight through torture with him.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
07/22/2021
I've heard all sorts of scary things about Kruskal so I was pretty nervous going into 351, but he's actually really nice. I thought he was a good lecturer, much more interesting than most CS profs at UMD. I don't know how he does things in person but for the online version the actual lecture material was prerecorded and class time was for him to go over various assignments or just talk about some random topic, usually something 250-related. Overall pretty interesting, he likes to tell jokes and stories or just kind of ramble. I think the main issue with the class is that it's pretty disorganized. Kruskal seems to have outsourced all the course logistics to TAs, with mixed results. Personally I didn't mind this but I can definitely see how it bothers people, so be warned.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting an A
tybug
05/30/2021
This is my second review of kruskal, the first being for CMSC 351, posted on 12/20/2020 (search for "tybug"). I've changed view slightly; I think he's actually quite a good lecturer, but the class is far too disorganized to get anything above 3 stars, similar to 351. I also didn't learn the things I was most excited for in this class: proving algorithm correctness (formally, not hand waving with a certifier) and learning how to come up with algorithms, not just analyzing existing ones.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
05/30/2021
I took this class in Spring 2021. Typically, while most people say that your 451 grade with Kruskal is the same as your 351 grade with Kruskal, I feel as though your 451 grade may be lower. If you choose to take this class with Kruskal, be sure you know what you're doing... Pros: + The ridiculously long pre lecture videos from 351 are gone. The professor actually teaches new content during lecture time, making lectures highly informative. + He repeats most NP assignments from 351, so you can reuse your work + Professor is very chill regarding deadlines. Often, he would extend a homework deadline by a few dates simply because someone asked nicely. Our midterm deadline was actually moved by 2 weeks. Cons: - The quizzes from 351 that helped gauge your progress are (mostly) gone. We had a few at the beginning of the semester but they stopped afterwards - There are no written solutions given for any homework assignment (not just NP). This is especially detrimental when exams are often based off of homework assignments. While there are review sessions that go over homework assignments, they lack the formal rigor that a written solution would have. Also, there is no guarantee that the every problem is covered in these sessions. It is especially baffling that we do not have solution keys when this was done so often back in 351. - The live lectures are often very free-flowing and not directed without the slide set. This can make it difficult to determine what to take notes on. - No review material is given for either the midterm or final. The homework assignments do not make up for this. As a result, it is very easy to lose lots of points of exam questions where you may actually understand the concepts at hand. Again, exam review material is something that was easily made for 351, so I am shocked that they couldn't apply the same processes here to make it.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a C+
Anonymous
05/27/2021
Some of his videos were really good, but there were a lot of lecture videos that had horrible audio or loads of content that did not matter. The class administration is so horribly run I would title this class the worst run class at UMD. Homeworks never graded on time (many graded AFTER the exams that the homework material was on), quizzes randomly showing up (like at 9:00 pm due at 10:00 am, thank god that was fixed), and many more. If these administration problems were fixed this class honestly wouldn't be that terrible. Probably like a 4-star, but those issues are so colossal I can't rate higher.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting an A
csmathstudent
05/27/2021
Had Dr. Kruskal for CMSC351/451. He is not perfect, but I absolutely disagree with his 2.87 star rating. He has a good sense of humor and teaches algorithms in a way that makes it very intuitive. He also really makes sure to answer student questions during lectures and is helpful during office hours. One of the biggest complaints is that there is a really long turnaround time before things get graded. This is not any of the TA's or Kruskal's fault. They are simply understaffed for the amount of kids they have to manage. Another complaint is that the tests are completely unfair. This was absolutely not true in 351, where the problems were literally just slightly altered homework problems and problems that reflected lecture material. The tests for 451 I felt were more difficult. Many people also leave the class frustrated because they can't seem to get a good grade by rote memorization of the materials. I think that the problems Kruskal gives out on the homeworks and exams are fair for a difficult algorithms class and focused on difficult problem solving. It is, however, very difficult for any teacher to 'teach' a class math maturity or problem solving ability. You are simply going to have to do extra practice practice from the textbook if you haven't done these kids of problems before.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
05/20/2021
I took this class in Fall 2020 Pros: + The professor is very smart, he definitely knows what he's talking about. + The inclusion of quick quizzes is a fast way for you to know if you're caught up on all the content Cons: - Lecture content is posted in the form of asynchronous videos. The video length is often significantly longer than what a lecture would be, so it forces a significant out-of-class time investment - The live lectures were almost completely useless, he spent two months going over basic induction and never covered actual relevant material - Tests are quite hard
Clyde Kruskal

Expecting a B-
WallyLoh2
04/12/2021
Class is disorganized. Lectures with poor audio quality are used for actual class material to learn. Kruskal sometimes spends way too much time talking about jokes or other irrelevant matters. He is a smart guy and is nice, but the class could be run a lot better. Everything that people say about the tests is true. You can't pass this class if you don't put in hard work.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
04/10/2021
Class is definitely disorganized and needs a major restructuring. Despite this, I think when Kruskal is actually focused on lecturing, he explains things pretty well (like in his 15-20 minute recordings on specific topics). Exams were very difficult and worth way too much, but were modelled very closely to homeworks. TAs are hit or miss. You're likely gonna heavily rely on the 351 Bible (a large set of notes by a former TA that covers nearly every topic), along with some online videos for topics that you are confused about. If you do use these, though, you should be able to pass the class.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B
Anonymous
02/10/2021
Had him last semester. Everyone complains because they don't put in the work. I was busy with recruiting last semester so I prioritized that over school. But if you honestly keep up with the work and don't push all the studying until last minute you'll be fine. Everyone complains that the professor is ass but its because the concepts require actually thinking, whereas everyone is used to spoon feeding. Regarding the TAs, its either a hit or a miss. They tend to grade relatively slowly.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
01/16/2021
Kruskal is a great person, and he's a really brilliant computer scientist. In terms of explaining material, he's pretty good as well. This semester he uploaded short video lecture videos asynchronously, which are great because they let you rewind whenever you want. His homeworks are like puzzles, but if you can talk them out with your friends you'll do a great job on them. MAKE SURE you find people to work on the homeworks with you! Otherwise, it's 10x harder to pass the class. Now for the negative about this class: The exams are fucking bullshit. Yeah, they are heavily based on the homeworks, however, the graders show no mercy on some questions. The format of the questions are in a way such that if you are blanking out on a how to solve the problem, you're pretty much screwed out of 5-10 percent of your final grade in the class. I studied and restudied for the final exam so much, but when it came around, I still met some problems where I understood the concept, but the algorithm for solving it, wasn't coming into my head. Personally, I don't know what more I could have done to prepare for the final, and I still got a pretty low score (I passed though). So in summary, clyde is a good professor who gives crazy ass exams. The exams are about 70 percent of your final grade, so make sure you know your shit thoroughly. But at the same time, make sure you are also very well rested before you take the final, or midterm. You want your mind to be on it's A game. The material of this class isn't really too hard to grasp and understand either. I thought that it was going to be based off 250, which I wasn't the best at, but it's a lot easier in my opinion. Just watch out for the exam questions!
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a D+
Anonymous
12/28/2020
Took him during a pandemic because no other professors were available don't make the same mistake. he uploads pre-recorded lectures from previous years with horrible sound quality and the final was 45% of our grade.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
12/20/2020
If you don't want to fail, then run! No matter how much effort you put in the class is so poorly taught that you end up not learning anything.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A
tybug
12/20/2020
I think Kruskal only half deserves the reputation he has (or that he and 351 jointly have). His lectures are not great. He often implicitly make assumptions in lectures, leaving you very confused if you don't see the implicit assumption yourself, because he will not clarify it unless asked. And even when asked he doesn't answer very well. I truly don't think he's being malicious, he just can't see student's train of thought and see where the reasoning is breaking down. People who are reasonably "smart" (for some definition of intelligence) will probably see these assumptions and be fine in lectures, but people who are not will struggle with this. I found the exams to be very fair. It might have been because of covid, but our exams did not include a challenge (or "interview") question. Instead they were mostly minor variations on homeworks. Overall, I agree with the vocal majority that the course content is not taught well, but disagree that the exams are unfair.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B-
Anonymous
12/15/2020
Ok, so I know that Kruskal gets a lot of hate. His course is definitely disorganized and he does not spend lecture time actually teaching the stuff, rather going over other topics like probability and induction, and getting distracted by telling bad jokes. Homeworks were vague and were graded very late. Some TAs were great, but others were not really knowledgable. HOWEVER, I will say him and TAs are responsive on Piazza and gave reasonable extensions. Also, the biggest selling point is that his exam questions are almost always variations of the homeworks, which means you can predict what the exam questions may be like in advance. That is the single reason in my opinion why you'd want to take Kruskal over Teli, because his exams, the biggest part of the grade, are predictable enough to pass the class.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B
Anonymous
10/02/2020
please don't give last year record, really can't hear anything clear about it.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a P
Anonymous
05/25/2020
Professor Kruskal tries his best to teach the material, and he seems like a nice guy. He has his good moments, and it's in those moments where you can obtain a lot of knowledge about algorithms. However, there are also moments where he rambles a lot, which makes it hard to pay attention to the class. Make sure you try your hardest to understand the course material because it seems fascinating even in a hard class like CMSC 351.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
05/21/2020
While the content of this course is interesting the organizing and implementation is severely lacking. Professors and TA's should respond to students in a timely manner but in this class there was seldom any communication with the students on basic course information
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
05/11/2020
The disorganization complaint echoed across this website about 351 stems from a lack of communication between Kruskal and his TA's. There has been a few times where I would get marked off by TA's on homeworks because I did it differently than the grading criteria although I checked in with Kruskal beforehand and made sure my way was correct as well. Although the TA's regraded them, it shows the lack of communication. Also, posts on Piazza regarding how certain problems can be done are usually answered by the TA's with "defer to Kruskal". Like, bro, just make up your mind as a teaching panel and tell us, I don't need another side quest to find Kruskal and ask him the same question right now. Kruskal himself is a very knowledgable professor (dude has been doing research on this area for god knows how long, he's like a fossil). Some lectures he articulates the concepts very clearly and makes it very easy to understand, other lectures he leaves the class a little confused. When the latter happens, please go to office hours before complaining here. From what he told me, he only gets a few visitors per day (TA's might get more). I don't really understand how people can be blasting Kruskal for being a bad professor while they don't go to office hours for help. Unfortunately we can't rate courses, we can only rate professors, and Kruskal is one of the better professors in one of the worst-run courses.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/08/2020
Truly garbage. Doesn't teach anything--and what's worse--doesn't seem to care. Terrible organization and complete apathy.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an F
Anonymous
01/27/2020
If you have class with Kruskal all I can say is GG
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
12/10/2019
Sometimes he's a good lecturer, and sometimes he just rambles on and on about irrelevant content. Usually he is fairly entertaining when he does that. A counterpoint to some of the Kruskal yay-sayers is that when you get to the gritty, Kruskal actually is a good lecturer. I honestly disagree, as Kruskal explained several key points terribly throughout the course, including but not limited to the tree method, several explanations about the existence of paths and the correctness of the MST algorithms, and solving optimization problems using decision problems using polynomial overhead (which is something that he stated will be on the final). He is an average lecturer at best. The homeworks are decently challenging, but they don't help you learn the theory whatsoever. And honestly the theory for this course is extremely meager. To study for the final I made a topics list and it didn't even cover a full page of content.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/29/2019
Kruskal made it clear he was not too excited to be teaching 250 this semester. He is a knowledgeable professor but during lecture he would often refuse to answer questions and would sometimes make students feel unintelligent. He was not very responsive to students' concerns and the class was not very well run. If you take him make sure you attend lecture because he purposely does not record lectures and there are often no slides posted (and if they are, all the examples are absent and say "do in class").
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/26/2019
Great lecturer, with in general, fair exams. He doesn't award much if any partial credit, so it is important to be 100% confident in your answers. I thought that the course's logistics were not the best, even if they were done by the TAs and not Kruskal himself. We weren't able to get our homeworks back before the final for example, and the final took ~1 week to grade. The final was particularly brutal, with ~45% average, but the other tests averaged about 61%. The other exams felt very fair, and if you could do the homework, it shouldn't be bad. The final was not fair however, so you're always taking a risk on whether you're getting a reasonable exam or not.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A
Anonymous
05/14/2019
kruskal may be really tough and all, and sometimes doesn't completely finish the math when he does it on the board, but his tests are more or less an easier version of the homework. if you understand how to do the homeworks, you can get a decent grade on his tests. i'm not an extraordinary smart person but i didn't think this class was impossible, but again don't underestimate the class either, because some of the homework questions he asks can seem really difficult at times.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a C-
Anonymous
05/11/2019
Just keeps on rambling. Always assumes you'll know the concepts and skips over a lot of stuff.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B+
Anonymous
12/14/2018
Coming into this class, I knew what to expect with Kruskal because I had him for CMSC250. He seems like a great guy and he really knows what he is teaching, but I do not find him to be a good teacher. However, I can see why others would disagree. His lecture style seems to work very well for some and not at all for others. I definitely fall into the second category. Although I stopped attending his lectures early on, I was able to do well in the class by taking the homework assignments seriously, watching a lot of YouTube videos, and watching the Panopto recordings from the other professor. I don't mind learning this way and Kruskal's exams are very fair (even if they are hard) because they are based almost solely on the homeworks. But if you are someone who prefers to learn directly from the lectures instead of someone who learns by struggling through homeworks, I would not recommend taking Kruskal.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
12/13/2018
Clyde's class is difficult. His homeworks are the same as Eastman's, but different from Jason's. I found that the "prep" and the self-study sheets that Jason would post around midterms or throughout the semester were very helpful if you did all the problems listed. Most of the exam problems look just like the ones on the practice midterms but expect a few curveballs. As an instructor, Clyde is objectively frustrating to follow. He'll take examples from the slides and change them so that if you don't pay close attention the whole time, you may end up lost. Asking questions in class is good. He won't demoralize you if you have the balls to ask a question, but if you try and answer a question that HE asks, and you get it even slightly wrong, he will not be forgiving. Just before Thanksgiving, he taught a lecture that was like an intro to algorithms, and there were only 15 of us in class that day (weather was bad and it was the day before break). I guessed the answer to one of his problems, and upon learning that I got it wrong, he followed it up with "I guess you really don't know anything." It's objectively a terrible teaching tactic, but the TA's will be a lot more helpful in giving constructive feedback during discussions or office hours. My tips for surviving the Clyde: 1. I definitely wouldn't have survived without this. Go to discussion. The TA's will go over problems more in-depth than he does and will answer your questions without ridicule. I personally never went to office hours but if that's your thing hey more power to you. 2. Do problems from the textbook to prepare for exams. I got a 78 on the first midterm when I didn't do this, and then a 98 on the second when I cracked open the book. 3. Look back at the homework to get an idea of the types of questions that can come up on exams. Oftentimes, midterm problems will be carbon copies of these with a few words or numbers changed. 4. Follow along during lecture on a laptop with the lecture slides. I found it helpful to get some notes a minute or two in advance of him covering it. Side note - Jason makes the slides and Clyde lectures on it, so that's why it seems like he's only reading it for the first time. Also, Clyde will sometimes skip over a lot of slides at once because he feels it's not important, but it can be helpful to get a couple more examples under your belt while he's rambling. 5. Try to keep your cool. Clyde is so frustrating, I can't stress this enough, but if you're taking his class, the best you can do is get your bearings and learn more in-depth on your own time (which honestly can be during lecture). I hated his class, but I'm taking 351 next semester with him because I'm a freshman and register last so wish me luck.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
12/04/2018
One of the better professors I've had at UMD CS. He knows his stuff and is easy to understand and follow.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250

Anonymous
05/03/2018
If you can take Jason Filippou instead for CMSC250, you should. Kruskal knows the material and can teach it, but he always complains about his lack of interest in CMSC250 and even when he teaches, skips over steps. He thinks that everyone knows about certain things, so he'll just skip over things, but most people attending the lecture may not know what he is doing. However, he does like to joke around and have some fun, so his lectures can be interesting on occasion. Normally, I attend his lectures and then look at Jason's slides on ELMS, which are more in-depth and have better examples. If you have to take Kruskal due to the fit of your schedule, you will be fine, but I hope that he has regained excitement in teaching CMSC250.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a C
Anonymous
04/17/2018
Kruskal is genius but he lacks the ability to teach. He thinks we already know everything. I was in the TA room everyday to get my homework done and study for the exams. Phong saved our lives. Without Phong passing this class would have been impossible. He changed the structure of the class to help students. various office hours to get help. 5 starts for Phong.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
04/12/2018
Kruskal is an awful educator, an irresponsible mathematician, and an unapologetic narcissist. He asks questions in class, which is always a pain. Right before calling on you, he might say something demoralizing like "I don't think you have the right answer, but go ahead and try." After you answer, he may say something like "I knew you had it wrong." or "Google will never hire you." Kruskal assigns a ton of homework. Be prepared to join a study group and meet multiple times a week and have no social life just to complete his homeworks - which, by the way are really vague sometimes. God forbid you ask him to be more specific with what he means on a question - he will say something like "it should be clear from the context what I mean". If you press him further, he will get even more annoyed at you, and never answer your question. The homeworks are vague enough so that a TA in office hours once had to announce to everyone that he instructed people incorrectly on a problem because of misinterpreting what kruskal called "clear from context." A true mathematician is always very clear and specific when defining a problem that they're solving (or asking someone to solve) - it's arguably the most important part in solving a problem. Yet kruskal can't be bothered to specify what he means when his wording could mean two things reasonably and even a TA gets it wrong. If you ever misinterpret kruskal's meaning from context, he will say you're cheating for not "answering in the spirit of the question". He thinks you purposefully misinterpreted the question to make it easier, or something. Don't expect to be able to make regrade requests on much, either. He said something along the lines of "don't make a regrade request just because a TA graded you more harshly than someone else. That's just life". even though that is literally what capricious grading means and there are numerous policies against that and the instructional staff have an obligation to correct any capricious grading like that... One time, he was working on a really hard problem in class. A student pointed out an error he made, and he said "oh. i'm lost and confused. so you are all dismissed" And we just left without the answer, never getting the answer. Kruskal spends all his time spouting nonsense about how students are always wrong yet he can't solve a problem he posed to us himself. If at all possible, take 351 with someone else who isn't a d0uchebag who likes making his students suffer.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a C
Anonymous
04/11/2018
This class is difficult no matter who teaches it. It is obvious Kruskal is an algorithms wizard and it worth taking his class, even if it mean night exams and long homeworks. Office hours are a must for this course but more enjoyable because of Clyde
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A
Anonymous
01/30/2018
Clyde is disorganized, and hard to communicate with for administrative issues. He also gives the impression that he does not really care about his students. Despite this, I think he explains the content of the course adequately.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
01/09/2018
I'd like to first clarify explicitly that this rating is of *the course itself* and my experience, and not Kruskal personally. "Clyde," as I sometimes hear other students call him (not my style), is friendly, even solicitous, in person; although at times I was very frustrated with him I never had a bad impression of him as a person. But almost everything else about the course, including his teaching style, left me unhappy and on-edge. Among other things, at the end of the course I received a grade better than a B - the night before, I had calculated the likely cutoff for a C-, because I was *that* unsure where my not-yet-graded final exam performance left me. A member of my friend-group was dumbstruck to receive a 50% on one exam (exams are far-and-away the bulk of your grade in this course), only to discover that he had been misgraded by about 30% - that is, he actually earned an 80. To avoid going over-length with anecdotes, some key complaints/corresponding survival tips: - TAs are perennially unhelpful (make sure you work with other students) - Exam questions draw heavily on homeworks, so successfully understanding homework (no matter how vague or slow-grading TAs might be) is important to get done before exams - Grading is slow and curves aren't specified until the very end (avoid panicking, and monitor where you are with respect to the average; for reference, 75% earned you an A in my semester) - Make sure you understand the rudiments of calculus (how integrals are approximated with sums, for example) and summation-handling, because this knowledge will be largely assumed in derivations - Our final exam was largely *not* cumulative, and what did show up was more trivia we'd all forgotten than anything substantive (all I can hint here is to take note of "space complexity" during the course) - TAs frequently pull the hardest exam questions from websites like "geeksforgeeks," interview-type questions for professionals; studying at least a few of these will give you a fighting chance of solving the problems in real time - The textbook is sometimes helpful but always a pain to read; if you anticipate trouble, start reading in advance - This course often tends towards the frustrating; instead, try to have fun - really the best thing about this course is it encourages on-the-spot facility with making a good algorithm to solve a problem you encounter, which is a cool skill to have Sadly, I could still say more, but I think I've gone on long enough. Kruskal's course by reputation teaches you more than others - I'd certainly say so - but the stress and the "on-your-own" attitude mean that you have to be aggressive about making sure you understand well enough and have enough practice to acquit yourself well on exams. Truthfully, I can't say I recommend Kruskal's 351 - only that it is survivable if you bite down from the start.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
01/02/2018
Kruskal is one of the best professors I've ever had. Is he easy? No. But his style, for me, just fits. Everything he says has a logical purpose in the lecture. He not only explains everything that's done, but he also goes over it again if someone asks. He periodically stops and asks if everyone is following. If you are lost, and you aren't asking questions, that's YOUR fault. Not his. Kruskal expects you to be intuitive. This may make some students struggle, but to be quite honest, it really comes down to how much work you put in to the class in order to gain that intuition on how to solve a problem. 60% of every exam is basically regurgitated homework problems. As such, if you fail this class, you simply aren't putting in the time to nail down the homeworks to perfection.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B-
thunderd568
12/23/2017
Love the guy. He has an eccentric personality but if you get one on one time with him, get to know him and show genuine interest in the material, he is great. I retook this class after not passing over the Summer. Did much better the second time. If you have to retake a second time, fear not. Nearly everyone who retakes Kruskal does even better the second time around because he doesnt change a thing. Hes a creature of habit. The addition of a second midterm in the semester has helped the class be more "pass-able". Clyde is probably the best option for 351. His exams can be daunting in terms of how hard it makes you think, but it mainly just recycles some home work problems with different numbers and one coding interview question. After getting a D+ the first time in the summer, I am expecting a B- the second time around after the curve. It can be done!
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
12/15/2017
This man is terrible. His lectures are rambling, he is unhelpful, and he just doesn't give a flying fuck about you as a person.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a B
Anonymous
12/14/2017
This class was one of the toughest algorithms classes I've ever had. Clyde is somewhat of a right of passage for UMD, but that doesn't make the class any easier. The professor is somewhat disorganized and gives bogus explanations for things, but you learn a ton about sorting/selection algorithms and complexities in the worst case for most things. The first midterm from this semester was brutal (and I heard harder than last semester), and the average was a 56% with a standard dev of about 15 pts. The second better wasn't too bad and had a 68% with standard dev of 15 pts. I've no idea how the final will be, but I know the class has become more lenient since 2010-2012, so I'm hoping not too bad. They'll apparently test you on MoM, graphs, minimum spanning trees, and np on the final. Good luck to anyone taking this class, and get a study group :)
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Anonymous
11/12/2015
I strongly felt the particular content of this course is best (and easiest) learned through his whiteboard style rather than by book. Clyde covers a TON of ground in one lecture's time, especially when compared to professors who just read off a watered-down powerpoint from the book for their entire class "lecture". The big caveat is if you have a lot of trouble following (at least roughly) what he's doing, it won't be much fun for you and you will feel lost all lecture. Either way you need to write down literally everything he does. The material can be hard to grasp, but Clyde is really great at walking through an algorithm. If you take good notes and review them (possibly with another classmate/TA) you will eventually understand it. The other most important thing to do in this class is to ask questions when something isn't clear. In each class there's usually 2-6 little insights he forgets to mention, if you can catch those omissions and get him to explain them, you are a hero and it will be tremendously insightful for you and for every other student in the room. Although if you still don't get his explanation, you may need to just let it go- and if you took good notes, you should eventually understand it when you are reviewing them later.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

abolstery
12/20/2013
Clyde is actually very intelligent, and I found it fun to learn from him. While lectures aren't extremely helpful at the time of the lecture, going over the notes and understanding the semantics of every afterwards algorithm helps. Clyde will handwave some things in what he teaches because to him it's trivial. However if you go through the algorithms step by step, you can learn a lot and do well in the class. Overall the material was difficult, but the exams could be manageable given the right type of studying.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250

Expecting an A
zaqu413
12/22/2012
Lecture: Kruskal seemed to be a little out of his element this semester (Spring 2012). He supposedly never uses power point, but was forced to because Meesh said her class and his class had to keep up with each other. I didn't really learn much from the power point slides, most of the interesting tricks came when Kruskal would steer away and do one of his 'fun' problems. He was disorganized and late to every class. I honestly don't know how I learned during lecture, but I did. So I would suggest going to lecture (no pop quizzes or anything like that though). Homework: Assigned weekly, and very hard. I took MATH310 and MATH406 (A+ in both) already, and I thought this homework was very difficult. Quizzes: On Monday's during discussion. Usually pretty easy, just look over the slides. Exams: the midterms were long, I kind of finished them, but I didn't really get to check my answers. Final: He randomly gave us 2 hours and 7 minutes to finish the final. When I asked him why he just said "I have my reasons" which is the response he gives to just about everything... The exam itself was not that bad, I got a 90% but the class average was a 60%. It was only a little bit longer than the midterms, but it was harder. **Finally I would like to say that I considered testing out of this class, since I was a math major I could have probably passed the placement exam. But I wanted the free 4 credit A. Turns out this class is not a free 4 credit A no matter how much math you know. Kruskal makes the homeworks too hard for that. That being said I think that you should take this class rather than test out of it, I learned a lot of stuff (especially Induction stuff, which isn't covered very well by the math dept. but Kruskal did a extensive covering of induction). ---------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------- I also had Kruskal for 351: He did a much better job in 351 than he did in 250. I think he just wasn't really into the 250 stuff. In 351 his exams and HW were very hard, but he curves like crazy so don't worry about it (like a 60% = B for our class). This seems weird, but it is done because it is hard to test algorithms. The only thing I didn't like was that there was one midterm that was 40% of my grade, the final was 50% and homeworks were 1% each. On exams if you are asked to make-up an algorithm on the spot just make one that works and disregard efficiency, you get a lot of points for one that works. Efficiency will get you more points, but just move onto the next question and try for efficiency if you have more time at the end of the exam.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A+
Anonymous
12/20/2012
Dr. Kruskal is a terrible professor. For algorithms, he did not teach nearly as much as any other professor. Looking at material from other semester, he did not cover as much material NOR covered it as deeply. He would refuse to do proofs under the mindset that they were not instructive. Even when he did attempt them, the proofs were so terrible I didn't even bother writing them down. He would always be minutes late, and would often spend the last chunk of classes doing unrelated material further wasting time. This being said, our semester also had many terribly harsh graders for TA's. The class up to the final was pretty straight forward. The midterm was not too difficult, and the weekly homeworks were usually doable and he accepted resubmissions (and very late submissions). The final exam was incredibly difficult and harshly graded. The mean was a 45, and the final cut offs for passing the course was a 37, and for an A-, a 67. In the end, going to lectures and doing the homework is still crucial. He does not offer any other manner of learning the little he did go over in the semester, such as online notes, so not going to lecture makes getting a decent grade nearly impossible. I would not recommend him. He makes the class just as difficult as the other professors, but you end up learning less in the end. It might be a little less work with the somewhat small weekly homeworks, but it is not worth it in the end.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250H

Expecting an A-
autonym
05/24/2012
It's very important to accept that Kruskal simply operates on a different wavelength from the average person. He's a true mathematician in the sense that he experiences life abstractly and disregards some aspects of interaction in favor of maintaining his flow of reasoning. The honors section was an intimate and fun experience, and I can see how Kruskal might be more difficult in a large lecture, or with students who are less enthusiastic or willing/able to follow the material. So I highly recommend the honors class for the abstract-thinker. The assessments and graded assignments are the same, but you get to spend half the time solving logical puzzles.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/15/2012
Kruskal is great in this course. His policy on homework is great (hand it in whenever, no real due dates). You just have to make sure to keep yourself on top of it so you don't fall behind. HW is good practice of the concepts. Exams are tough, but that's to be expected for this type of course. The questions are fair. Most importantly, Kruskal makes the course very interesting by motivating the topics very well. He is also very good at explaining stuff, but you have to make sure to ASK him questions. Otherwise, he will breeze through the material and you won't understand anything. He is decent for help in office hours too. My only complaint would be that he seems a little disorganized (just try visiting his office for example). However, he never lost any of my work, so this is not a big issue.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250

Expecting a B
Anonymous
05/01/2012
You have to work your butt off in this class because it is a hard class to begin with. But, to top it off, the professor doesn't teach well. Hopefully you have a good TA
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A+
OtG
03/21/2012
If you're not into math, STAY FAR FAR AWAY. The lectures are incredibly hard to follow, but attendance is still imperative to have any chance of success. The homework is quite difficult and extremely time-consuming; expect to spend 8 hours per assignment and to get a low grade. There is no indication of what to expect or how to prepare for the exams, but fortunately they were tempered significantly to make them fit into the allotted time. They're not easy, but they're not impossible either, which is all-important since the two exams are 90% of the grade.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting an A
Anonymous
01/24/2012
This course was super fun! Easily my favorite course taken at UMD so far. It's a panorama of cool stuff in algorithms- I was continually surprised with intuitive tricks that are simple to explain but probably took months each to develop. They're priceless drips of distilled knowledge that you can't afford to miss if you're a CS major who plans to stop at your bachelor's degree. Kruskal communicates the course content clearly and with a refined taste for what's interesting. He seemed to care less about grades than most other professors, and gave a ridiculous curve. His marking is merciless though- if you do something wrong on a problem then you can expect a 0 or 50% grade for that problem. The tests were hard, especially the final which was very hard. He puts heavy emphasis on proofs.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting an A
xenonscreams
01/11/2012
My only real complaint about Kruskal is that he's probably too smart for his own good. Unfortunately, that impacts his teaching significantly. It's frustrating when he insists on only proving things a specific way, and this is the only class I've ever taken in which I really felt like I had to ask questions. The exams were worth most of the grade which made it a little scary. But if you really do all of the homework on your own and study well, you should do well on the exams (at least relative to other people, which is what matters in this course with regards to your grade). Definitely go over all of the homework questions before taking the exams, and maybe do a few questions from the book. Kruskal is very accommodating and cares a lot about his students. He clearly wants to see them do well. I definitely learned a lot in this course and was adequately rewarded for my efforts. It just takes a lot of getting used to his teaching style, and several hours doing and reviewing problems to prepare for the exams.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting a B
Anonymous
07/07/2011
Class is hard so do not skip any lectures. There were only 4 homeworks but they were challenging and were used on the exams. Midterm was 40%, homeworks 10%, final 50% of grade. Many people drop this class because of his no-regard-for-human-life grading style. I thought I'd fail with a 55 average on the midterm and final exam, but with his curve that was a B.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A
rockinbassman
03/21/2011
Kruskal comes from a long line of brilliant mathematicians and he is no exception. However, he forgets that not everyone, especially undergraduates, are not as brilliant as he is. His homework assignments were vague and sometimes his lectures would go off on vague tangents. His midterm and final were very difficult. Average for both was about a 50. Granted, his curve is mean + std. deviation is the B/A line which is nice, but still hard and stressful. If he's your only option, you'll live. If you have other options, take them instead.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A-
Anonymous
03/01/2011
The previous two reviews are probably accurate in the Clyde was frequently late, unprepared, and probably didn't care tremendously about the class. I won't lie. I hated the class while I was taking it. Didn't study enough for the midterm and did awful on it. Did really well on the final and ended up with an A-. Look. He is clearly passionate about the material and he is actually decent at explaining it. As much as I hate to admit it, both tests were fair. You got a certain amount of points if you understood the homework and you could figure out the other problems on the fly if you generally understood the material. Also, do yourselves a favor. Don't spout out that CLRS is a useless book too loud. It really isn't.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Anonymous
12/23/2010
No syllabus. The book is useless. He scribbles random gibberish on the board. Those are your notes for the class. His office is a mess, to say the least. He doesnt give a damn.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting a C
Anonymous
12/18/2010
Kruskal is a terrible teacher. He never showed up to teach on time, always being five to ten minutes late. He was even late to the final exam. He didn't post the chapters that went along with the material he taught in class, so your class notes were your only study source. I approached him about this and asked if there was any material in the book I could use, and he replied that nothing he taught was in the book. On several occasions he taught the wrong material. The class had no structure, either a student would remind him where he left off the class before, or he would just start in a seemingly random place. The average on the midterm was a 50%, with the standard deviation being 25%. This meant that the grades were so scattered, that a 75 was an A, a 50 was a B, 25 was a C, and 0 was a D. He was such a bad teacher he made it impossible to get an F in his class. TL;DR Kruskal is a scatterbrained, unorganized mess of a professor, and you should avoid him at all costs.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC451

Expecting an A
random
06/08/2010
Kruskal is a great guy. I have had couple of classes with him, and I think he is definitely one of the better professors in the department. His class is entertaining and educational at the same time. Mind you, 451 is a hard class. You learn many complex classes of algorithms, and their mastery can only happen over time. The good thing is Kruskal understands this. His tests aren't super hard if you go through and understand his lectures well. He doesn't give very organized notes (mostly writing on board). Also, there were couple of times when he stumbled a bit solving some problem. But on the whole, I would recommend taking this any/all algorithms classes with him. Also has a decent grade curve. But go into this class prepared to see some really hard problems.
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC351

Expecting an A
Anonymous
07/19/2009
Professor Kruskal was a good teacher for this class. Especially when you consider that Prof. Golub is the other option. Kruskal taught pretty well. I think an average student should have been able to understand most of the topics we covered. Though his tests are not easy. They are between average and hard. He curves grades like most comp sci classes. For this class, make sure you do his homeworks and the practice exams. Though tests may not be very similar to them, but they do help you build a strong foundation for the test. He does show off his intelligence at times and can be slightly rude, but if you don't ask questions, you won't get much out of him any way. But he wants you to learn. Definitely recommended for CMSC351. He is after all related to the guy who came up with the famous Kruskal's minimum spanning tree algorithm. :).
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250H

Expecting an A
Anonymous
12/26/2008
Dr. Kruskal is awesome. He is an excellent instructor and he presents the material in his own way (which many people may not like). He is a mathematician and he loves math. For the most part in 250H we did not cover ANY of the material that we needed to cover (we had to read everything from the book) However, we spent the time doing special projects that were so much fun and interesting that it was worth having to read the book for the actual course material. The projects were not graded but you get to argue with and against Dr. Kruskal and he is so much fun to argue with. Overall, Dr. Kruskal is really passionate about his math and he is very funny. (He is a little bit forgetful and rarely answers to emails, but he's just awesome!)
Clyde Kruskal
CMSC250

Expecting an A
Anonymous
04/22/2008
Heh, what can I say about Kruskal... first off, I had him for both CMSC250 and CMSC351. He seems very averse to doing work, and though he is very smart he rarely imparts this knowledge on students in a way that really impresses people. His lectures can be disjointed (he never has slides) and it can be hard to follow what he is doing, most of the class was not able to learn the material from the lectures. On the other hand, if he likes the material, I feel like he is able to teach something. And he seems to be really passionate about algorithms. So there is a silver lining - if you understand and follow what he does, you can learn.