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NUS Math Module Review: MA4260 Stochastic Operations Research

Assessment and workload:

– 5% Tutorial paticipation (I got 5/5)

– 15% for 3 Homework assignments (I probably got 12+/15)

– 10% Attendance (Easy 10/10 for turning up for classes)

– 20% Midterm test, 1 A4 sized helpsheet (I got 13/20)

– 50% Final exam, 1 A4 sized helpsheet

– No webcast despite being held in LT24

– Prof Sun allows both scientific and graphic calculators.


– This module is on the manageable side. It is 1 of the modules which really shows the ‘Applied’ side of Applied Math. This module is split into 3 parts, namely stochastic programming, inventory models and queuing theory. Prof Sun started off with stochastic programming which is not easy as it requires a great deal of English comprehension. He also gave us a recap of linear programming which is highly theorectical in nature and also some basic notions of nonlinear programming. In addition, we have to learn AMPL to do our assignment 1 and that was extremely difficult considering that I’ve no talent for programming. Prof Sun then taught inventory models and that was manageable. Queuing theory came last and is quite confusing to me because it takes a great deal of comprehension to decide which queuing system the given situation is in. All are formula intensive.

– Prof Sun is not a very good lecturer. Lectures are sleep inducing and the course material is generally very boring and not very mathematically satisfying because the textbooks used are catered to the students who are doing their masters in business administration. In addition, Prof Sun DOES NOT provide any lecture notes and copies the stuff he wants to teach on the whiteboard. He also tells us to somehow get a hold of the textbooks to read in advance. After copying, Prof Sun then tries his best to explain the concepts, although in a boring way. My recommendation is to read the textbook before and after lectures, especially the reading exercises he gives, otherwise the tutorial questions are undoable. I like Prof Sun’s digressions and find his digressions to be very entertaining.

– Tutorials are taught by Mr Yuan. Mr Yuan is excellent and 1 of the best tutors I had in NUS. Mr Yuan explains concepts well and is extremely patient. Tutorial attendance and participation is mandatory and a free 15% for attending everything and presenting once (Even the easy questions). I personally like this style of tutorials as it encourages students to present their ideas and get corrected on the spot if wrong. It also makes tutorials less boring. Mr Yuan’s digressions are also quite entertaining.

– Homework assignments are manageable except for the first assignment on programming. That was an assignment from the depths of hell for me especially when it targets my weakness: Programming. The other 2 assignments are theorectical and can be done.

– The midterm test was manageable to me but I lost 2 marks for being blind. The midterm is very computationally intense.

– Final exam was manageable, aside from the stochastic programming question which is more about English comprehension than Mathematics. Prof Sun loves convex sets and convex functions. The other questions were more manageable than the 15/16 version, presumably because Prof Sun claims he set a more challenging midterm so he can set a more manageable finals for us.

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