Below are some of the common questions. Of course, you can always ask the TFs or me any questions you have via Office Hours and EdStem. If it is a private or serious matter, please email the helpline at cs287helpline@gmail.com.


  • How can I enroll? All interested students should first look at HW #0 and carefully check that their current knowledge/skills aligns with the pre-requisites for this course.
    • AC295/CS287: Harvard (non-DCE) students must complete the course application form before Aug 26 (the registration deadline). The Harvard (non-DCE) enrollment will be capped at 35 students.
    • E-115B: Harvard Extension (DCE) has an Open Enrollment policy, whereby it is mandated that registration is a first-come, first-serve basis; I can’t select which DCE students enroll. So, if you are a DCE student, please carefully read the syllabus and HW #0 to ensure that this class aligns well with your learning objectives. DCE enrollment is capped at 20 students.
  • Which course should I take: CS187 or CS287? You do not need prior NLP experience for either class. Our classes mostly only overlap by covering some of the same neural net architectures, but otherwise there’s a huge difference. In short, CS187:
    • is a more gentle introduction than CS287
    • has ~6 lectures
    • is lab-heavy
    • focuses more on linguistics (e.g., parsing)


    • assumes you’ve taken a Machine Learning course
    • covers more advanced topics than CS187
    • has 21 lectures and no labs
    • is research-heavy
    • focuses more on NLP tasks (e.g., 10 lectures concern tasks, 10 concern models, 1 is a review)

    Visit here for further details of the differences.

  • I’ve already taken CS187, can/should I take CS287? Yes! If you’ve taken CS187, you’ll have a nice foundation in NLP, as you’ll have seen RNNs, seq2seq, and Attention. This will prepare you well for CS287. In CS287, we’ll build on this foundation and teach advanced neural models (e.g., BERT, GPT-2), new tasks (e.g., summarization, coreference resolution, entity linking), and require you to research a problem of your choosing – which will account for 50% of your grade. So, you’ll learn tons of new concepts and will get to do research. Your involvement in the course would be greatly appreciated.

  • Can I audit the course? No, unfortunately you cannot audit. This is the first semester the course will be offered, and we have a small teaching staff (1 TF for every 20 students). So, in order to provide the highest quality education that we can, we cannot allow non-enrolled students attend class.


  • Since DCE students are remote, how will they take the pop-quizzes and exam? DCE students will access the pop-quizzes and exam online for up to 24 hours after the class session. Upon opening the online version of the quiz and exam, the DCE student will have the same time constraints to complete it as in-person students.

  • Do I have access to the video recordings of the lectures if I am not a Harvard Extension (DCE) student? Yes. All enrolled students will have access to the recorded lectures.

  • Do I have access to the video recordings of the lectures if I am not enrolled in the course? Maybe. I wish to upload the recordings to YouTube, for full, public access, but this understandably violates DCE’s policy, as they spend enormous effort recording and editing the videos. I am trying to find an alternative option to make the lectures widely available. At a minimum, I will publicly post and tweet all slides.


  • I missed a pop quiz. Can I make it up? Yes, only if you have a valid excuse (e.g., medical excuse w/ a note from a doctor). The pop quizzes are meant as a soft assessment to ensure you’re on the right track for meeting the learning objectives. In general, please do not worry. I drop each student’s three lowest quiz scores. My logic is that: students might benefit from seeing at least one quiz in order to calibrate to the types/difficulty of questions that I ask in the quizzes, so that warrants dropping a quiz; it’s reasonable to not be at peak performance during one quiz (or that you miss one altogether), which warrants dropping a quiz; and perhaps a quiz might be too demanding or badly worded, which warrants dropping a quiz.

  • Can I work with others on homework? No. Homework assignments are to be completed individually and not with others. To be clear, we encourage you to talk and discuss the assignments with your fellow students, but this should be at the conceptual level. That is, no student should ever see another student’s solutions or code. If you post or share your homework assignment online (even if it only contains the questions and not solutions), this violates our academic policy and you will be reported to the university. This includes posting your assignment on GitHub. Do not do this. In other words, your homework assignment is a private copy that only you should see. If you’re unsure if something is allowed, please speak with us first. See the syllabus for more details.

  • I submitted my homework a few minutes late, can I still get credit? Yes. Homework assignments are due on select Mondays at 11:59pm. Anytime after this is considered late. No exceptions. Your fellow classmates work hard to turn in assignments on time, so although I wish I could be lenient on the submission time, I have to draw the line somewhere (so I do at 11:59pm). It would be unfair to your classmates if I made exceptions. The good news is that every student is allowed three free late days without any penalty. See the syllabus for more details.

  • I turned in an assignment late and wish to use one of my free late days. What do I need to do? Nothing at all. We will track all late days in the order in which you use them. See the syllabus for more details.