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6.632 Electromagnetic Wave Theory (H)

The Next Wave [Class]
(3.1 0.0 9.3)

Lecturer: J. Kong
Lecturer's Rating: J. Kong 6.7/7.0
Prerequisites: 6.013 or 6.014, 6.630, strong mathematical background
Response rate: 24 out of 33
Difficulty: 5.9/7.0
Overall Rating: 5.8/7.0
Term Evaluated: Spring 2002

Lecturer's Comments:

This is a second course in EM waves for undergraduate and graduate students. Collaboration is allowed; if taught again, the class would be much the same.

This class is taken primarily by Course VI graduate students and upperclassmen. It covers electromagnetic wave theory and related mathematical techniques in broad scope. Topics included waveguides and responses, point sources and arrays, Cerenkov radiation, and antennas.


  • Professor Kong!
  • Physical explanations of mathematical results; focus on intuitive understanding of important points
  • Broad scope of material covered
  • Interesting and insightful lectures
  • Stories about mathematicians and scientists during lecture


  • Material sometimes presented too fast for understanding
  • Long and complex problem sets; lectures not always relevant to psets
  • A lot of detailed, intricate math and algebra
  • Could have more applications and demos

Most students took this class out of interest in the material, either sparked by previous classes, such as 6.014, or to improve their background knowledge for research. Several graduate students also took this class in preparation for the Technical Qualifying Exam. This class is recommended for anyone studying EM, especially those interested in theory since the class focuses more on theory and less on applications. A number of students took the class because the lecturer was very good.

Lecturer J. Kong (6.7/7.0, 24 responses) was universally praised for his engaging teaching style and wonderful use of humor. He was very prepared and knowledgeable, although some students felt he sometimes got too caught up in "on the board" calculations and did not address issues that would have been helpful on problem sets. Willing to spend time to answer questions, he was well-respected by most students.

TA B. Wu (5.7/7.0, 23 responses) was always helpful when asked questions, especially for problem sets, and made himself available to students around the clock. Some students noted he knew the material but sometimes had difficulty explaining it. His flexibility in giving extensions for problem sets was appreciated.

Problem sets took 9 hours on average to complete and were considered fundamental in understanding the course material. However, problems were sometimes vague, and typos in the psets and solutions made things confusing. Several students complained that material on psets was not always covered in lecture, which made them long and difficult. Most students did not collaborate and did not use bibles.

The class used one textbook, Electromagnetic Wave Theory, written by Prof. Kong. It was described as dense and useful, but confusing without lectures and other outside insights. Although many students felt this text, combined with lectures, was sufficient, a few wished there had been some more-easily understandable supplementary material. Going to lecture was essential to understanding material in the book.

Grades in 6.632 are based on 12 problem sets (34%), and 2 quizzes (66%).

Exams were easier than problem sets and were generally described as fair. Generous partial credit was given and students did not find themselves under time pressure. Questions on exams were relevant and reasonable.

Students agreed that going to lecture was exceedingly important as well as generally enjoyable. Some students suggested taking a good EM class such as 6.630 beforehand. In the future, allocation of a full TAship for this class would be helpful.

Basic and advanced method and knowledge in EM. Yes!

One of the best lecturers I've had at MIT. What do you expect from a direct descendant of Confucius?

You gotta love Kong! He is good, like very very good.

Dated: June 16, 2002
Eta Kappa Nu, MIT