FAQ for 10601A/C, Fall 2017

Prof. Roni Rosenfeld


Please read carefully to the end before you email me about 10601A/C

Last update: 31 August 2017

Last Updated Topics: Section C waitlist.  Remaining questions should go to the Assistant Lecturer.


To accommodate the large number of students on the waitlists for 10601, we opened two new online sections for Fall 2017.  10601C is the online section corresponding to 10601A (Prof. Rosenfeld), and 10601D is the online section corresponding to 10601B (Prof. Mitchell).   Each online section is identical to the corresponding non-online section, except instruction will be by watching the recorded lectures online. 



Q: What is the difference between 10-601 and the other “Intro to Machine Learning” classes offered by the Machine Learning Department (10-401, 10-701, 10-715)?


See this document.



Q: What is the difference between 10601A/C and 10601B/D?


In Fall 2017, 10601A/C is taught completely separately from 10601B/D, by separate instructors and TA teams.  While the content will be roughly equivalent, the sections may differ in topic order, teaching style, emphasis, pre-requisites, logistics, assessment methods, etc.


Questions about 10601B/D should be sent to the teaching staff for that section.  The rest of the answers below pertain specifically to 10601A/C.



Section A vs. Section C:


Q: Other than watching the lectures online, is there any difference between section C and section A?


No.  For the purpose of assignments, exams, grading, policies, office hours etc., sections A and C will be treated as one joint (and very large) section.


Q: I am registered for 10601C.  May I attend the 10601A lectures in person?


Yes, as long as there are still empty seats in the auditorium at 9:05am.  In the past, as the semester progressed, more and more students chose to watch my lectures online instead of attending them in person (a practice which, by the way, I do not recommend).  If this happens again, sufficient seats may open up during the semester.


Q: Can I transfer from 10601C to 10601A as places become available?


As spots in 10601A become available, we will fill them with 10601C registrants based on their place in the 10601A waitlist at the time they registered for 10601C.  So if you switch from the section A waitlist to section C, your priority in the queue will not suffer!


Q: Am I guaranteed a spot in section C?


Yes, section C has plenty of space for all qualified students.


Q: I tried to register for section C but was put on the waitlist, even though I do not have any course conflicts and do not exceed my max units.  Didn’t you say I am guaranteed a slot in section C?


You are on the waitlist because someone who signed up ahead of you had some course conflict, and was put on the waitlist pending resolution of that conflict.  Subsequently, anyone who tries to register will get stuck on the waitlist as well.  I don’t like this “feature” of the WL, but this is how things are right now.  You need to be released from the waitlist manually by our admin.  This may take a day or so to happen.  But rest assured, your place in section C is guaranteed.






Q: What are the prerequisites for 10-601A/C?


See http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~roni/10601-f17/prerequisites.htm .



Q: I am missing one of the prerequisites.  May I please register anyway?


No.  The prerequisites for 10601A/C are important.  But note that they are stated in terms of experience and skill, not in terms of specific required courses.  You need to determine for yourself if you qualify.  On the other hand, do not assume that because you are smart or hardworking you will be able to make up gaps as needed; many students who made such assumptions, especially with regard to programming experience, got in trouble.



Q: I am missing one of the prerequisites, but I will take it at the same time as 10601A/C, namely, as if it were a co-requisite.  May I please register anyway?


No.  These are pre-requisites, not co-requisites.  This is important because fairly early in the semester you will need to rely on many of the assumed skills.



Q: I am missing one of the prerequisites, but (1) I will take it at the same time as 10601A/C; and (2) I have good, objective reason to believe that this will be sufficient for me to do well in 10601A/C.  May I please register anyway?


Maybe.  State your good, objective reason succinctly in an email to ‘roni+10601AC-f17@cs.cmu.edu’ , and attach your undergraduate and graduate unofficial transcripts (including current-semester mid-semester grades, if any).  The subject of your email should be “Request to substitute co-requisite for a pre-requisite (Topic) (FirstName Last Name, andrewid)”.  “Topic” should be one of “Programming”, “Statistics” or “Math”.




Pass/Fail, Formal Audit, Informal Audit (“Vagabonding”):


Q: Can I take 10601A/C Pass/Fail?


Yes, you can, but keep in mind that a Pass may or may not satisfy your degree requirements – check with your advisor first.



Q: Can I take 10601A/C as a formal ‘Audit’?


In principle Yes, though it requires successfully completing 50% of the assignments (no exams though).

In practice No, because this semester I will be teaching more students than ever before (close to 500), and I don’t have the time or manpower to accommodate more.



Q: May I audit 10601A informally, i.e. just sit in class, without registering?


You are welcome to do that, but only if there are still empty seats in the auditorium by 9:10.  Otherwise, you are welcome to watch the lectures online.




This section about the waitlist is superseded by the creation of online section C, and should be skipped for Fall 2017.


Q: I am in position K on the waitlist.  What is my probability of eventually being enrolled?


Short answer: I’m sorry, but I don’t really know.


Longer answer: Your position on the waitlist matters but is not the only factor.  I have some target class composition in mind in terms of student program diversity.  This means that your college, department and degree program may matter, too.  If your program is under-represented in the class, you have somewhat better odds. If you are an SCS student, you have generally better odds.  The situation changes from year to year.


As you know, many students drop the course within the “shopping period”.  Unfortunately many students do so at the very last minute, and some do so even after the end of the shopping period.  Because of this, I allow waitlisted students to participate and even to submit the first few assignments, up through the end of the 3rd week.  I then try to let in all those who stuck around and did all the assignments.  Until recently, I have always been able to let in everyone in that category.  Fall 2016 was the first time this was no longer possible.  I don’t know what it will be like this year.  I’m sorry.



Q: I am in position K on the waitlist, and am worried I won’t get in.   This course is really important to my career / degree program.  Can you please do me a favor and let me in?

Q: I am on the waitlist.  This is the last semester I can take this course.  Can you please do me a favor and let me in?


I’m really sorry, but I can’t, because I get too many such requests.


If you are an undergrad or otherwise allowed, consider 10401 instead.

You should also consider “Machine Learning in Practice / Applied Machine Learning” (11-344, 11-663, 05-834, 05-434), especially if you are concerned you might not have the programming, statistics, or mathematics prerequisites for 10601A.



Q: Last time you offered this class I patiently stuck around on the waitlist, and submitted all the assignments up through the Concept Learning assignment.  I still didn’t get in.  I am now once again on the waitlist.  Didn’t I suffer enough?


Yes, you did.  I still have your submissions.  Send me email with a request, and I will give you priority (no hard promises though).




Q: I just read this FAQ carefully but did not find an answer to my question about 10601A/C.  Now what?


Send a terse email to the Assistant Lecturer, dpbird@andrew.cmu.edu.  The first line of the body should be:


“I just read carefully the 10601A/C FAQ (version 20170831) but did not find the answer to my 10601A/C question there.”


As new questions and answers are added to this document, the version number will be updated, so please be sure to check this FAQ before you send your email.




Thank you for carefully following this procedure.  I am sorry that it is necessary – I prefer to interact more personally.  Hopefully, this process will reduce the flood of 10601A/C-related email, so I will have time to answer questions that truly require personal attention.


Best wishes, and see you in class in late August!





Roni Rosenfeld

10601A/C Fall 2017 Instructor

Professor, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University