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6.630 Electromagnetic Theory (H)

Maxwell's Family and More
(3.0 0.0 5.9)

Lecturer: J. Kong
Lecturer's Rating: J. Kong 6.5/7.0
Prerequisites: 8.02, Vector Calculus, 18.03
Response rate: 43 out of 56
Difficulty: 4.0/7.0
Overall Rating: 5.9/7.0
Term Evaluated: Fall 2002

Lecturer's Comments:


6.630 introduces the fundamentals of electromagnetic theory. Topics include Maxwell's equations, wave propagation and dispersion, transmission lines, and waveguides. Many students felt that the material was very basic and equivalent to an undergraduate class. Students taking this class were mainly graduate students in Areas IV and V, and MEng students in Course VI. There were also a handful of graduate students from Course II, III and XXII.


  • Entertaining lectures, funny stories keep you awake
  • Historical insights - learning about Maxwell's life
  • The interpretation and physical meaning behind the equations
  • In-class demonstrations
  • Approachability of instructors


  • Sometimes too many stories
  • Pace is too slow
  • Too much time on transmission lines

Many students took 6.630 because it was related to their research, and because it offered H-Level credit and satisfied TQE requirements. One student explained that he enrolled because "6.014 is no longer offered and waves are still a mystery." Others thought the class sounded interesting and fun, and wished to strengthen their EM background. Students recommend taking this class because Kong is a great lecturer, but many felt the material was not advanced enough for a graduate-level course. This subject offers a good balance between theory and application.

Lecturer J. Kong (6.5/7.0, 43 responses) was an exceptional lecturer, and his entertaining stories kept students awake and attentive. One student commented, "He goes at a nice, reasonable pace, and is in no hurry. This is very refreshing for MIT." His blackboard technique, patience, and accessibility were also praised. Many expressed that Kong was one of the best lecturers they've ever had, even "[Kong is] the nicest professor at MIT." Several students wished to see more concepts and less math detail/derivation.

TA X. Chen (5.9/7.0, 40 responses) is hard-working and available for questions. If he doesn't know the answers right away, he will find out and follow up with you. Some felt that his English was difficult to understand. His demos were consistently well-prepared.

Problem sets were highly relevant to the lectures and helpful in understanding the material. Questions were fair -- sometimes on the easy side -- though some problems involved material that hadn't yet been covered. Some students felt that the questions were worded too concisely, and that more explanation would resolve confusion about what is being asked. Problem sets took approximately 5 hours to complete. Grading of the assignments was generous, and some felt that the high grades motivated them to work hard on the problem sets. Assignments were returned in a timely manner.

Those who collaborated found it helpful for clarifying concepts. Most students did not use bibles. The textbook, Electromagnetic Wave Theory by J.A. Kong, followed the lectures very closely and proved a useful reference. However, the formatting was unpleasant, and the derivations often lacked sufficient detail.

Grades in 6.630 are based on 11 problem sets (34%) and 2 quizzes (33% each).

The quizzes were straightforward and fair, and the grading was relatively liberal (class averages were high). The quiz questions were very similar to problem sets. Students advise working quickly, as the first exam was long.

"Kong is the MAN! You have to attend a Kong class to really understand life."

Dated: January 17, 2003
Eta Kappa Nu, MIT