Brian Metzger

May 2018

It's difficult to understand his lecturing - fortunately, he posts his lecture notes online which summarize the topics you need to know and study. Homeworks are useless as they are insanely difficult and have nothing to do with the tests, so most people just look online for the solutions. Midterm and Tests are about applying equations from an equation sheet with a few conceptual questions - the averages are usually in the 60%, which he curves to a B. I ended the class with an A- with no prior understanding of the class but still have no idea of what I have learned. Take the class if you can self study the material and watch lectures online, but don't expect to learn from just going to class and doing the homeworks, but at least his tests and finals are somewhat reasonable (unlike other teachers who have 20-30% averages).

Aug 2017

The majority of people skipped lecture and self taught because the lectures were monotonous, all over the place, and were very fast paced. Prof didn't answer questions very much/very well, seemed to have the attitude that the questions were dumb questions. Homeworks were pretty hard, but necessary for the grade and also to learn the material. Midterm seemed fair, similar to homework. The final was a lot harder with problems I had never seen in class or on the homeworks. After the final I got what I thought was my final grade, but I checked a few months later and somehow it had dropped a letter. So be aware for surprise changes in the curve I guess. Don't take his class if you need a good lecturer, you will probably be fine in his class only if you are already good at physics or good at teaching yourself. Recitation was optional, and not useful as the TA didn't seem to know what we were covering in class.

Jul 2016

Clear lecturer and occasionally (unwittingly) hilarious. Just do the work and you'll be fine. Also, it helps a lot to read the textbook. I have no prior knowledge and managed to sneak out an A. I actually thought it was a lot easier than mechanics.

May 2016

Even after considering the awfulness of most Columbia professors, I cannot understate how miserable my experience with Metzger was. He is, at best a tedious and monotonic lecturer. He rarely stops to ask for or answer questions. He puts minimal work into the class - this was his first time teaching, and yet he could not take it on himself to make a practice final or midterm, instead giving us one from another professor that he himself admitted to being bad during office hours. I have had other professors in the same position who were willing to do so, but apparently this is too much for him. I didn't have any background in physics prior to taking this course, so I found it challenging. Lectures were not good vehicles for learning the content as he would go through long derivations and spend minutes on a concept. I don't know if homework really helped to reinforce the ideas or not; in my opinion, everyone used available answer keys (go find them) to do the homework. A lot of the HW problems involved useless long math calculations (that he admits he will not test) - honestly, half of the time, it seemed like he flipped to the page and randomly choose a few questions. He is also not a gentle grader, in my opinion. 1 midterm, and 1 final made up most of your grade, so good luck to you if you messed either one of them up! I did, and ended up with a B-. It's probably my worst grade ever at Columbia. For comparison, I got an A in 1401, which is admittedly easier and probably has less people who dropped down from 1600. I was actually (prior to taking this class), planning on doing a joint major with physics; this will probably not be happening. I would personally not recommend him for people who care a lot about grades, do not have a good physics background and require a competent lecturer. If, however, you know the material well, and don't require much instruction, you'll be fine.

May 2014

Professor Metzger has a habit of lecturing to the blackboard. Though he says that questions are welcome, he very rarely looks up from his notes long enough to see who has their hands raised, even immediately after he asks if there are questions. His presentation of the material is reasonably clear and he only makes a few minor errors in any given class. His motivation of the mathematical material is fairly compelling, but many of the derivations covered in this course are unavoidably long and tedious, so it is just not easy to maintain one's interest for the full lecture, given the detached manner in which Metzger lectures. There were absolutely zero in-class demonstrations for this course, despite the fact that it covers very accessible results in optics and electrodynamics. Overall, not a terrible concluding course for the intermediate physics sequence, but there is no getting around that this material is hard going. If you're studying physics, you'll have to take this course. If not, you probably shouldn't.