Abhay Pasupathy

Jan 2020

Prof. Pasupathy’s dry sense of humor makes lectures somewhat entertaining, but he spends a little too much time getting laughs out of the class through his frequent demos. As a professor, he has a strange and extreme commitment to solving problems symbolically; while I understand that solving algebraically reduces the likelihood for calculation errors, he was adamant about solving a harder 1D motion problem using a messy system of 4 equations in office hours once when it could’ve been solved with just 2 of the fundamental formulas from the textbook. The first 2/3 of the semester is tough but still doable, but there is a ridiculous difficulty spike when you reach rotations and fluids near the end of the semester because 1) these topics are naturally harder to grasp than kinematics, forces, and energy and 2) Pasupathy spends even less time on these concepts. Bottom line: if you don’t have a solid physics background from high school, find an easier professor if there is one. The course is supposedly curved to somewhere between a B and B+, but the class seemed to have more students with a stronger background than usual this semester.

Dec 2019

Pasupathy's class if entertaining as he does a lot of demos and always tries to keep class engaged. However, he is not a very good teacher. He spends most of the class time deriving formulas and does very little examples and practice problems. When he does do practice problems, he goes through them very quickly and always solves problems in terms of multiple equations where you have to solve for the unknown. He pretty much teaches straight from the book so it is very helpful to actually read the textbook and the sample problems. Pasupathy expects students to have a fairly strong foundation in physics so this class will prove to be especially challenging for students who have very little physics background. His exams are difficult (usual average around 60%) but the class is curved. His problem sets are also difficult and can be time consuming, but are all from the textbook. His exams are similar in difficulty to the homework. You often have to learn topics on your own as they are not thoroughly explained in class. For exams he will provide some practice problems if you ask for them, however these will not be enough to study for exams.

Jan 2014

For a shorter summary, look at the last paragraph: Things in your favor: Prof. Pasupathy is, on the whole, an entertaining lecturer. He can be witty, has good energy, and it is very evident that he is invested in teaching. His accent is only slight, and understanding him isn’t a problem. He also does his best to incorporate demos and get volunteers in the class involved; it’s an attempt to make sure you’re not sleeping, and is usually successful. His problem sets are generally fairly straightforward. Only in the first third of the class were the problems he wrote as part of the problem set a major factor; later on it was mostly problems from the book. With the solutions manual (decently easy to find), his problem sets aren’t a problem. What’s nice is that irrespective of all of this, he hosts a recitation every week where he essentially just answers homework questions and does homework questions for an hour. If you’re having trouble just getting the answer/through the process, go to recitation and he’ll do it for you. Things not in your favor: His lecture style isn’t the most informative. Like the reviewer before me, he does tend to solve a lot of problems in class. His philosophical standpoint in solving a system of equations is to only plug in at the very end; while good when solving problems, it doesn’t seem to be the ideal way to teach concepts. He does less of that, and if you haven’t been introduced to these ideas before, you’re going to have a hard time picking them up for the first time from him. This is especially true with rotational/equilibrium and fluids, near the end of the semester. He didn’t spend at all the time in lecture he needed to in order to teach those concepts thoroughly, and most of the class (myself included) struggled a bit. His tests are very straightforward, but they are only straightforward if you have honestly done all of the problem sets and understand the concepts. What he tends to do is pick “classic” problems for many of the concepts, which tend to test something thoroughly, so you can’t just “sort of” know something. But, he doesn’t have problems that do anything out of the box or that you haven’t ever touched. Summary: I feel as if you’re going to do best in his class if you’ve already had a decent physics background or are familiar with many of the concepts in mechanics; this isn’t to say that you’re going to do poorly otherwise, but the learning curve is much steeper and less forgiving than perhaps it may be in other classes due to his lecture style.

Dec 2013

Abhay is a solid teacher, and I would definitely recommend him over Professor Tuts. However, his teaching style is different from what most people are used to. He doesn’t spend as much time on conceptual nuance as I would like, and then spends a lot of time on problems. Instead of solving for the value of intermediate answers, he solves everything like a system of equations (which get uglier and uglier as the year progresses) and plugs in at the very end. Hence, most of the class consists of doing problems where one gets bogged down in a lot of ugly algebra, and thus, many students miss the conceptual nuance and understanding of the problem. If you take a step back and realize that all Abhay is doing is solving a system of equations in a different form, it becomes much easier, but it takes most students a large portion of the semester to get used to this. That being said, I still found Abhay a good teacher. He has a quirky personality, and he is quite energetic throughout the class. He has demos decently often and encourage student participation frequently. ATTEND LECTURE. He goes way more in depth than the textbook, and you will definitely be in the dark if you skip class. His problem sets aren’t too bad, unless he decides to write his own problem. When he writes his own problems, be prepared to spend a large amount of time on them. I think solving his problems was definitely helpful, but you’re not going to see the answer right away. You will have to try various approaches until you have an “AHA!” moment, and then everything will work out. Attempting his problems with a group was helpful since we could all suggest ways to attack the problem. His midterms weren’t too bad in my opinion. They were hard but doable. I think he made them easier from previous years. His final exam was very difficult, with the average being 59%. The key here is to make sure you understand the problems in the final problem sets. Abhay moves quickly through fluids and rotational motion, and if you just turn in problem sets by using the solution manual and don’t go back to understand what happened, you will be confused for the final. Most students found the portion of the final from the first 2/3 of the semester doable, but clearly didn’t study Torque and Fluids enough. Luckily, most of the class made this mistake so the average reflected that. Overall I would say this was a good, but hard class. If you had a good Physics teacher in high school you will be at a good starting point. His curve is a B+/A- curve so half the class gets some form of an A.

Jan 2012

I joined his class after my first midterm, and I basically had no idea what was going on during the entire semester. Pasupathy would give us extremely hard questions in class that he did not explain at all. His homework problems were also annoying, and so it's extremely helpful if you have the solutions manual. He is also extremely rude when it comes to emails. I emailed him several times asking him for help, and he would respond with one word replies. I would not recommend Pasupathy, but I got an A even though I had no idea what was going on.

Jan 2012

I absolutely loved this class. Abhay is funny, and his lectures are clear and to the point. He obviously knows what he is doing, and each lecture covers the main points of the chapter being covered, and also provides an example that offers insight on the steps you should take to answer the problem sets.There were a lot of in class demonstrations, which, along with being extremely entertaining, also helped explain concepts. He does have a bit of an accent, but I wouldn't worry about it. He speaks very clearly, and even if you miss a word here or there, he writes all important points on the board. (Don't worry, his penmanship is legible). Overall I'd say this is a great class to take, especially for people like me, that have never taken a physics class before.

Jan 2012

Out of all the physics professor's I have had so far in college and high school, Professor Pasupathy is by far the most knowledgeable about physics. Originally, I was in Charles Hailey's 1401 lecture and decided to switch. It was a smart decision. His lectures are clear, concise, and to the point, and he perfectly plans each lecture to highlight the key concepts. Although he is a foreign professor, do not let this deter you. He is easy to understand and at times can be quite charming and funny. He loves showing demonstrations (some are of value and others are just funny to watch (shooting a monkey with a cannon was a highlight!!!!!)). His grade breakdown is pretty standard for sciences (20% HW, 20% midterm 1, 20% midterm 2, 40% Final). Depending the chapter, his problem sets are either very difficult or relatively easy; however, overall, the workload is pretty standard for physics. I'd recommend this class over Hailey's because the HW counts for 20% instead of 10%; however, be warned, his exams will murder you in cold blood. After the first midterm, one girl walked out of the lecture hall and exclaimed "that killed me!" After the final, most students looked like they had been hit by trucks. Luckily, the average on each of the midterms was approximately 50% and each one is heavily curved. I believe his curve is a B, B+ curve, but I am not totally positive. If you have taken AP Physics B and some of AP Physics C, you should definitely be fine! If you haven't, good luck!

Dec 2011

Abhay is not too bad. As a lecturer he is pretty mediocre. If you are pretty good at physics, you can skip the lectures. His demonstrations are pretty good, sometimes they're even funny. Especially the one where he shot the monkey... The real problem are his tests. They are brutal. The average on all of his tests has been around 50%. The review problems for the tests won't actually help, take good notes of his lectures and study from that. Also, the TA sessions are pretty much useless. His tests are brutal, so eventually you will stop studying and give up. Pretty much. Getting a B+ isn't that hard though because of the generous curve.

Dec 2011

Abhay is a great teacher. He's always really excited in class, does tons of demos, and not only has plenty of office hours, but it always willing to meet at other times and responds to emails quickly. He also answers any questions you have during or after class. That being said, the class is hard. The semester starts out slow (the beginning is a lot of stuff most people had covered in high school), but don't be fooled--the material gets difficult, especially around second midterm time. The two midterms were both incredibly difficult (some might call them traumatic experiences), with means around 55%, but Abhay is a fair grader, and curves to a B/B+. I learned a lot in this class, and was glad to be taught by someone who does cool work in physics (he works in condensed matter, and would sometimes go on interested tangents about his work), and who clearly thinks that physics--including what he was teaching--is awesome.

Dec 2011

When it comes to physics, Abhay definitely knows his stuff. It might seem at first like he's not that great a teacher, but the truth is that there's so much material to be covered in this one semester, it's impossible for anyone to be a good teacher without spending way too much time on a certain subject. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to a lot of reading and practice problems on my own time in order to keep up with what was going on in class. The class seemed fairly easy until the last 1/3 of the semester, which was crammed with fluids and thermodynamics, topics that were taught extremely quickly but were also extremely difficult. For homework assignments, Abhay assigns mostly problems from the book, but every now and then he'll throw in a few of his own problems which will overwhelm anyone but the exceptional physics student. We had 10 problem sets, each of which were around 28 points each. He's very responsive with e-mails and if you ask him about any homework questions personally he's really good about helping you answer them without directly giving you the answer. The exams in this class are absolutely brutal (averages hover around 50%). Despite the curve, which leaves the average at around a B or B+, walking out of one of his tests will make you feel as though you have learned close to nothing. Overall, this class was definitely a lot of work, which, luckily, I was just barely able to handle. If you're good at physics and think you're up for a bit of a challenge, take this class. (From what I hear from people who took 1600, I'd advise against it.) If you're just looking for a way to get the physics requirement out of the way, go for an easier professor if there is one.