A sampling of pleasant things people have said about Principles of Complex Systems:

Sources: course evaluations, emails, and handwritten notes.

  • Past student: "PoCS was a transformative experience in my life without a question. Changed the way I thought about science and life. I wouldn't be the same person without it."
Season 9, Fall 2015:
  • Email: "... this class was the best experience i've had in learning."
  • Professor Dodds provides the best lectures I've had the pleasure to experience at UVM. The topics are interesting and complex, and the quality and depth of the lecture make it a truly wonderful class. There is an absurd amount of work that goes into this class and it's both noticeable and highly appreciated.
  • It's magical. We talk about random stuff that partially relates to things...and then we get to homework and projects and we somehow know so many new things...it's an anomaly.
  • Although this class is difficult to comprehend, professor dodds does a great job of keeping everyone engaged. He is one of the best teachers I have ever had.
  • [What did you like about the course?] Everything. He is incredibly passionate about what he does which makes it easy to want to learn from him. He also takes a lot of out of class time to explain any difficult material and genuinely makes sure we understand everything before moving on.
  • The instructor comes to class very prepared and very knowledgeable of the material. It is clear that he has extensive experience working in this field and that he has spent a lot of time about the arrangement of this course.
  • Assignments really helped drive home key concepts. Inspiring. Expert knowledge of material. Good sense of humor. Cares about the students. Office hours extremely helpful. *Everything* is recorded and on slides / handouts. This is extremely helpful when doing the homework.
  • Homework is both fun and enlightening and extremely challenging. Prof. Dodds is very ambitious in what he is trying to do with this class, and in general I think he does a commendable job. He definitely puts a lot of effort into teaching and developing course materials, and the selection of topics is apt.
  • Professor Dodds really knows what he is talking about and tries his best to make class interesting and fun. Very enthusiastic, great teacher, keeps lectures interesting and is very smart.
  • Peter has a remarkable lecture style. The course is very clearly laid out, with video recordings of each class available to students. His knowledge of the course material, and frankly, science in general, is astounding. I felt very fortunate to have taken this course.
  • Tremendous enthusiasm for and command of the material. Would not change a thing about it.
  • The homework assignments for this class were some of the more rewarding work I've done while at UVM. The difficulty of each assignment was fairly high, though not impossible. This led to a large amount of time being put into each them, but the end result was a good understanding of the course material and a set of problems that I can feel proud about having completed. It was a very different subject than what I am used to.
  • The topics that are covered are so spread out that I really gained a lot of information instead of just focusing on a few things. I liked that it was challenging but attainable. You spend a very long time not understanding the homeworks but with enough effort you always get it in the end. It's rewarding.
  • The instructor is very personable and willing to help. The course really gave me an extensive overview of complex systems and helped rewire the way I think about certain phenomena. I feel like I have a different (and better) perspective on how I tackle problems after taking this course.
  • The material is simply fascinating. The course is rigorous. We don't just talk about ideas. We quantify them, twist them around, and examine them.
  • Well structured, covers a lot, applicable to many different areas. While this course was extremely challenging, Peter did an excellent job of keeping the students engaged and motivated.
  • Overall, I feel I learned more in this course than in any other I have taken, and gained skills that may be applied to all future endeavors in my academic career. The graphs and topics were very interesting.
  • Never a dull moment! Wide variety of material touching all aspects of life, big and small.
Season 8, Fall 2014:
  • From a thank you note: “Your enthusiasm and clarity in the classroom is truly unparalleled. Thank you for all the great lectures, stories, ideas, chocolate-almond cubes, and fond memories. You have inspired me to delve deeper into Complex Systems and Networks than I would have otherwise done, and for that I am truly grateful.”
  • “Amazing material, being instructed by a genius.”
  • “Mastery of material, clear explanations and derivations. Great enthusiasm and personal interest in students.rofessor Dodds teaches in a manner that is not overwhelming and overly - technical, given the course material at hand. He presents the material to a very general audience, in a way that is very understandable.”
  • “Professor Dodds was extremely understanding about my background and capacity for some of math involved in this course. He is approachable, accessible, encouraging, generous with his time, and kept me engaged and excited about the subject matter despite my being occasionally intimidated by the math details. Good human being! He is also very organized and puts care and effort into making the course slides and lecture content fresh, relevant, and easy to access.”
  • “Fantastic!”
  • “Passionate about topics and willing to share numerous exciting applications and examples.”
  • “Very special and very interesting!”
  • “Most of the lectures were pretty engaging, and he knew how to compensate when there was dry material. Very helpful with assignments and project development. Super approachable and easy to talk to whenever help was needed.”
  • “He has a dynamic personality and a great sense of humor, which was subtly inserted into his lectures. He is very knowledgeable about the subject. Excellent use of examples and visuals. The occasional mental breaks, videos, and snack time were much appreciated. He is approachable, eager to help students, and understanding / encouraging when students are struggling. He is humble and seems to genuinely want students to learn as much as they can and to enjoy what they are learning, not treating his course as disproportionately important or as some rite of passage.”
  • “I really enjoyed the practical aspect of the course, especially the coding parts and the real life applications of topics in complex systems.”
  • “Office hours, snacks during class, and the “big picture“ lecture content. The people were great too!”
  • “HW and project are very hard for students with weak math background like me, but they are really really helpful! Also, Peter's class is super fun.”
  • “The material was very interesting and relevant. It was unlike any course I had taken before and inspired the students to think in new ways. I sort of hated the homework, because it was so challenging and time consuming, but many of the problems were actually fun puzzles to solve, and they made me use my brain in interesting ways.”
Season 6, Spring 2013:
  • Charismatic lectures and deep understanding of course content. Also, great looking slides and extremely organized web content.”
  • “Very excited about topic and delivered interesting lectures.”
  • “Much of the information we were introduced to had practical applications. The skill set I've developed in this course is already being put to use elsewhere.”
  • “Lots of fun examples“
  • “Just wanted to say thanks for a great class this semester. It was probably the best class I've taken at UVM. You made sure every class was super interesting.
  • “Professor Dodds puts a great deal of effort into making the material of which he is an expert interesting and accessible. I enjoyed the themes of classes, the homework assignments and quality of materials that he makes available to us. Through broken bones and search committees, he always made this class a priority.”
  • “Enthusiasm. Posts EVERYTHING online.”
  • “Lectures were very entertaining. A lot of time and effort were clearly put into the presentations.”
  • “Presenting the idea of regular, repeated, physical phenomena and mathematical laws that govern its regularity, growth, and potential dynamics leading to the observed regularity“
  • “I enjoyed learning all about this very interesting area of study, and couldn't imagine a better navigator for it.”
  • “Peter is a super nice guy and very animated and engaging when presenting lecture material. He definitely puts a lot of effort into preparing for the course.”
Season 5, Fall 2011:
  • Math 300 = best class I've ever been in. [from an English major]
  • “I like his story telling and the ease with which he explains difficult concepts.”
  • Understated, hilarious and one of the best teachers I have ever had. He alone was the reason I took this class and I loved everything he taught and his enthusiasm on the subject. You couldn't find a more informed or interesting teacher. I liked Dodds's enthusiasm and sheer breadth of knowledge. He's very entertaining as well.” 
  • “He explains the stuffs very simply based on students level of understanding.”
  • Professor Dodds treats the field of complex systems as a narrative. He develops the subject matter mostly in terms of human behavior such as happiness, networks of friends, distribution of wealth. He also relates the subject matter to biology and earth sciences. He knows the research and the researchers in this field very well, coloring the stories he tells. The stories add value - even if you couldn't understand a word of math, you would learn a lot of sociology this course. Professor Dodds was very helpful in terms of homework assistance during office hours. His lecture notes were available on-line and could be printed out in advance which helped me pay better attention during lectures and less time taking notes.”
  • “Very laid back, fostered a great environment for students to learn in.”
  • “Really interesting, engaging, insightful. Uses board well to emphasize powerpoint slides.”
  • “Teaches with a lot of enthusiasm for this topic.”
  • “Full of fun!”
  • “Lectures reflect great breadth and depth of knowledge. Engaging speaking style.”
  • “The assignments were difficult, but in each case I felt like I had to stretch my skills to meet the demands of the problems. Many questions had answers that were provocative or insightful, so it made it a type II kind of fun. I think this class really expanded my quantitative number sense.”
  • “Class was always entertaining. I learned a lot of subject matter I didn' t even know existed.”
  • “The ability to learn a tremendous variety of interdisciplinary information relating to just about everything anyone would be interested in.”
  • “Interesting and difficult. Rewarding.”
  • “We learned about so many awesome things.”
  • “Fascinating material across many fields. Demonstrated rigorous methods of study.”
  • “I like that it is a good sample of what complex systems involve and the group approach to do homeworks.”