Most of the Area I graduate subjects have a strong mathematical bent and require not just an exposure to, but a fluency with, undergraduate background in linear systems, probability, and linear algebra. Students should assure themselves that they have such fluency as a solid foundation for their graduate work.
A common mistake is to enroll in an Area I graduate subject thinking that you can correct your background deficiencies as you go along, and then to find out about the time of the midterm exam that you are falling behind and doing poorly because of your inadequate background. It is much better to correct your background deficiencies first (and you will be much happier).
Some students can achieve mastery of background subjects by self-study, and some can’t. If you attempt this route, you should complete your self-study before the term begins.
There is absolutely no dishonor in taking MIT undergraduate courses to bolster your undergraduate background. This is very common in the Area and highly recommended if your undergraduate institution didn’t emphasize this background enough. Relevant courses at MIT include:
- 6.003 (Signals and Systems)
- 6.431 (Applied Probability)
- 18.06 (Linear Algebra)
- 6.011 (Introduction to Communication, Control and Signal Processing)