[FYSE 1211]
Godel, Escher, Bach

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Professor: Scharstein D

Value of Course / Overall Score

Not Much (50%
Average (20%)
Valuable (30%)


Friendly (30%)
Average (10%)
Competitive (60%)

Class Atmosphere

Boring (60%)
Average (40%)
Fascinating (0%)

Prep Time Needed

1-2hr (10%)
3-5hr (60%)
6-8hr (20%)
9-11hr (0%)
12+ hr (10%)

Grade Weighting

Harder (20%)
Average (10%)
Easier (70%)

Adequate Assistance

Yes (90%)
No (10%)

Would Recommend Class

Yes (50%)
No (50%)

Evaluation Comments for Scharstein D

  1. No Comment
  2. No Comment
  3. This is an amazing course that is about... well... life. However, do not take it if you are simply interested in Escher or Bach. The course is not strictly about music or art. It is about math, computer science, logic, and philosophy. It is a very valuable course that will challenge the way you think.
  4. Although the course looks fascinating in the catalog, it does not reflect the true nature of the course. The first half of the course deals with a lot of hardcore logic which Scharstein fails to explain in a consice way, and the 2nd half of the course is Hofstadter's subjective view of artificial intelligence. You will learn a lot of superfluous knowledge, and thus, if you want to become a rennaisance man (or woman), this is the course to take. Otherwise, it is an unneccesary workload for not enough benefit.
  5. Ugh, I hated this class so much. The best advice I can offer is to go to Borders or something one day, grab the book and read the chapter descriptions and introduction. You'll quickly realize that the book has very little to do with Escher, Bach, Zen Buddhism or any of the other random threads Hofstadter throws in there. Know what the book is about so you know what you're getting into. Scharstein is a nice guy and the atmosphere was friendly, but the course was unevenly paced, too focused on presentations, and utterly irrelevant to any other class you'll ever take. Oh, if you're looking to improve your writing, look elsewhere. Scharstein is wholly a computer science teacher, and it shows in his approach to writing. The course was just poorly taught in general...we had a total of about two lectures in the semester, despite the difficulty of some of the material. Just know what you're getting into, for sure.
  6. I really didn't like this class. Not because of the professor or the material, but because most of the students hated the class and seeing as how it was supposed to be discussion-oriented, the lack of interest really hurt the class. Like someone else said, this class is a lot more math than the description may lead you to believe. The only reason I wouldn't take another class with the professor is because I am definitely a social science/humanities person. I think Scharstein would be a really good professor in the area of math/computer science.
  7. Don't take this course if you think it is about philosophy, math, logic, science, Zen Buddhism, Lewis Carroll, paradox, history, relevence, Godel, Escher, or Bach. After a whole term, I still have issues figuring out what this course was about. It something definitely intended to go into with an open mind. When I say above that this course was completely worthless to my overall education, I don't mean that it wasn't a truly worldly experience, I just mean that it is completely inapplicable to anything else I will cover here in my career at Middlebury. Half the class really hated this course, and the other half came out really messed up, incoherently mumbling about TNT and logic puzzles and hiccups and Dougie...
  8. This class has permanently scarred me--in a good way. I think this class is great, but you might not. If you describe yourself as a sane individual, I don't recommend it. On the other hand if you are interesting, please do take it. I never expected in myu entire life to take a course as fulfilling as this one. Go Dougie! (that nut)
  9. This definitely had more computer science/logic/math than I was expecting, but I liked it regardless. There is a lot of potential for very cool discussions, although I don't think my class really developed this. The professor is fair and the reading is pretty interesting, but Hofstadter is a little outta control some times. I really liked how this course exposed us to lots of different ideas in logic, CS, math, philosophy, and so on, even if we didn't really learn much about them. It is as good as any other FYS, and after taking it I think it would still be my first choice.
  10. I loved this first year seminar. The atmosphere was great-- the whole class got to know each other well and was very friendly. The book was really interesting and sparked a lot of discussion outside of class. The presentations we had to do took away from discussion time in class, which was unfortunate.

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