Basic Information About 6.390

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Basic Information

6.390 introduces principles, algorithms, and applications of machine learning from the point of view of modeling and prediction; formulation of learning problems; representation, over-fitting, generalization; classification, regression, reinforcement-learning, sequence learning, clustering; classical and neural-network methods.


The prerequisites for 6.390 are passing (6.1010 [6.009] or 6.1210 [6.006]) and (18.06 or 18.C06). For the transition this year to the new prerequisites, we will allow 18.03 to serve for the (18.06 or 18.C06) prerequisite. These prerequisites are strictly enforced. You will not be allowed to submit assignments in the fall if you have not completed these by the start of the semester, even if you have registered for the subject.

Course Number Change

Starting in fall 2022, all Course 6 subjects have been renumbered (rationale and details can be found here). This subject used to be called 6.036; moving forward, we will refer to it internally as 6.390 ("six three-nine-oh"). But for registration purposes, please register for 6.3900 (note the extra zero).


In Fall 2022, rather than having a single large lecture, we will instead have sections that meet twice per week, on Monday and Wednesday. The Monday section meeting will be Recitation, focused on discussing examples and working through interesting problems. The Wednesday section meeting will be a Lab assignment that you work through with a student partner and get in-lab checkoffs on.

Six sections will be offered:

  • Section 1: 9:30am-11am in 34-501 with Duane Boning
  • Section 2: 9:30am-11am in 32-044 with Vince Monardo
  • Section 3: 11am-12:30pm in 34-501 with Tamara Broderick
  • Section 4: 11am-12:30pm in 32-044 with Tess Smidt
  • Section 5: 1pm-2:30pm in 34-501 with Shen Shen
  • Section 6: 1pm-2:30pm in 32-044 with Vince Monardo
  • Section 7: 2:30pm-4pm in 32-044 with David Sontag

Note: Starting Sept. 19, Sections 1 and 2 are merged, and will be held as Section 1: 9:30am-11am in 34-501 with Vince Monardo and Duane Boning.

Recitations will be at the specified location and time on Mondays, and will be synchronous and required. You may only attend your officially assigned Recitation section. Your Lab section number (and meeting time and location) will be the same as your Recitation section number, on the following Wednesday. If you are sick, please do not attend recitation or lab; for illness or personal situations, see the guidelines below.


Online exercises (available and completed through the course website) will be due each Monday by 9:00am Eastern, based on weekly online readings. The intention is for you to read the lecture notes and do these exercises, so as to maximize the value of your participation in the recitation itself and to begin learning the material in advance of the next lab and homework.

Lab Sections

Each student must attend a weekly 1.5 hour lab session on Wednesday. You must attend the same section for recitation and lab. The lab session will be synchronous and required. We will be using the lab to engage students with each other in small teams (typically two to three students per team) and with staff, to explore fundamental concepts in advance of individual work in the homeworks.

You may only attend your officially assigned lab section. Typically, each lab will require a "checkoff" --a brief discussion with a staff member on the topic of the assigned problems. The checkoff is generally expected to be completed by the end of the lab section meeting; however, the checkoff can be completed by the lab deadline (generally Monday 9pm Eastern after the lab section) in office hours without late penalty. If you are sick, please do not attend lab; For illness or personal situations, see the guidelines below.


Homework is generally released each Monday at 9am Eastern, and is due online (through the course website) the following Wednesday at 11pm Eastern.

Office Hours

Information on Office Hours will be posted nearer to their start date, currently planned for Sunday, Sept. 11.


We will use Piazza as the course discussion forum where you can ask questions and get them answered by the course staff.

Midterm and Final Exam

The Midterm Exam will be held on Wednesday October 26, 2022 from 7:30pm-9:30pm Eastern. It is an in-person, written exam. There will be a Final Exam scheduled by the Registrar during Finals Period.

Temporary Section Switches

In occasional, well-justified cases, you may switch sections for the week. To do so, please contact 6.390-sections@mit.edu three days in advance.

Illness and Personal Issues

If you are sick you should not attend recitation, lab, or in-person office hours -- we will excuse attendance points for illness so you will not be penalized; contact 6.390-personal@mit.edu for consideration. Also, if you have personal issues impacting your attendance, or other personal difficulties affecting your progress on assignments, please see a Dean in Student Support Services, and then you and the Dean should contact the 6.390 Instructor in Charge (Prof. Duane Boning) and Course Admin (Taylor Braun) at 6.390-personal@mit.edu for assistance and handling of the situation. Please do NOT email any of the course staff directly.

Disabilities and Accommodations

We are committed to the principle of equal access, and we are more than willing to make arrangements to help accommodate students with disabilities or related challenges. In general, knowing about the kind of help you need earlier in the semester means that we'll be better prepared to provide that help effectively, in coordination with Disability and Access Services. If you have a disability and are not planning to use accommodations, it is still recommended that you meet with DAS staff to familiarize yourself with their services and resources. If you have been approved for accommodations by DAS, 6.390 staff are ready to assist with implementation. Please send these approved requests to 6.390-personal@mit.edu to inform us, and we will work to implement these accommodations.


Due to capacity and other constraints, we will not accept Listener registrants in 6.390 this semester.