Sean Davis is a full time lecturer in the Computer Science department. He asks us to demands that we call him Sean.


Sean Davis falling into a dunk tank to raise money.

Originally he studied Psychology and obtained his Bachelors degree in the subject. Like anyone with only a Bachelors in Psychology, Sean found his options for employment limited. He found work in the house painting industry of San Ramon, California. After painting houses for a number of years, the physical labor (and his knees going out) began to get to him. He then decided to try out teaching at the (now defunct) Sacramento High School. He then enrolled in his first Computer Science course at Sacramento State University. Later, he switched from the MA in CS program at Sac State to the PhD program in CS at UC Davis. Sean was in the PhD program for a few years and obtained his Masters degree, but never completed a dissertation (and thus did not obtain a PhD), because he was too much of a generalist to pick a specific topic. He still housepaints on the side.

While he was a student at UC Davis, Sean spent 3 years living out of a VW bus parked in the Tercero parking lot. He apparently lived there until he was kicked out by TAPS or some other authority figure.


Due to his lack of his PhD we may call him Master Davis. As a teacher, he's difficult, but you learn a lot from his classes. If you can't stand a class with Sean, you should probably leave the major. But he is a very fun lecturer, in that he really gets in to what he is teaching and asks for lots of participation.

He also comes up with new assignments for every quarter so if you're thinking of copying from friends that have had his class before... don't.

Like all lecturers, some people think he's the bees knees while others hate him to death.

You can watch videos of his lectures during the 2010 Winter Quarter on

Popular Stories

On picking a partner and generally: Look left. Now look right. Out of the three of you, one will be left sitting in here in two weeks.

Didn't he fail chem? He dressed up one time and gave a presentation about himself at a CS club or something. He used to be a hippy... - MarieHuynh

  • Yes, but he passed with flying colors the second time around - so he says.TR

Sean Davis' Class Websites


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2004-12-16 13:19:46   Although he has obviously been doing it for a long time, what I have seen of his programming(on assignments) has left me with the impression that it's not top-notch, but this can be because it was simply not his best effort. - MikeIvanov

2004-12-16 13:24:39   This is true of many people in academia (I don't know Sean Davis, so I can't say anything about him specifically). That doesn't mean that they are bad teachers. Some of the best programmers I know are afwul teachers, and some really good teachers should never be allowed near production code. Go figure... - EricKlein

2004-12-16 13:33:27   That's definitely true, but for many of his assignments, Sean prescribes the architecture in detail, based on how he structured his program, which to me personally often seemed illogical. This is probably due to his own time constraints, etc. But I suppose if you share my opinion, it does get you accustomed to deciphering terrible code in the industry. - MikeIvanov

2004-12-16 18:52:09   And he drove to some place that was full of brick houses, said DOH! and drove away. - MarieHuynh

2004-12-17 00:33:27   Well, that would work well for the students who know what they're doing, but... a lot of students just don't have a clue. I TA'd for ECS 140A for a year, and there were a lot of students, even that far into the curriculum, who would have been really lost if they had to start from scratch. Of course... it would be nice if students who didn't know enough weren't allowed to progress that far in the first place, but that's another story. - EricKlein

2004-12-17 08:18:28   EricKlein: I most definitely agree - KenBloom

2005-01-05 13:18:37   I definitely disagree with this statement: "If you can't stand a class with Sean, you should probably leave the major." While if you don't have the ability to pass Sean's class you should probably leave the major is true... there is hardly a good reason for the amount of BS work he assigns. So if you can't stand his style, don't worry... take the class from someone else, almost definitely you'll have fewer assignments, most likely learn just as much, and still be able to be successful in CS. Though I criticize the workload of his classes, Sean is a good teacher, so don't fret too much if you don't have the luxury of taking the class from someone else. And in the off chance you actually like his style of work-overload you're in for a real treat —JevanGray

2005-03-16 17:01:26   I would call myself a lazy student, and I didn't think his workload was that bad. Then again... both my partner and I had a lot of previous programming experience. —MarkWetter

2005-06-07 19:21:46   I'm now at the end of ECS110 and the programming assigments were not that much work, both of the challenge programs were fairly easy. The only thing I didn't like about the class were the essay questions on exams to be honest I wrote pure BS for my answer on the first exam and got all the credit, the questions were not useful for me it would have been better if he'd had the questions be short answer. In the end I really enjoyed the course and thought the amount of work was good. —BryanBell

2005-06-08 01:17:41   I've tak aen ECS 110 and ECS 40 with him (over the last two quarters), and I've really liked him as a teacher. Cocky sometimes, but good at teaching and good sized assignments. NOTE: I've hardly had any previous programming experience before coming to UC Davis, so you don't have to be ultra advanced to do well in his classes, you just have to try. —GiladGurantz

2005-11-18 10:35:27   Sean Davis is a good guy, and a good teacher. I've worked with him on several occasions and have nothing but good things to say. —AlexPomeranz

2006-03-15 12:24:45   He's a great lecturer. I had him for 40 and 110. The difficulty changes each quarter with the challenge programs. 40 is more time consuming that 110 but 110 is more mental work. To do well in his classese: go to as many lectures as you can, GO TO REVIEWS(he pretty much gives you the exam there), and take a shot at every program. Also, with the living in tercero: it was one year in the bus, two in a bread truck. I would not recommend not taking it with sean since it makes it easier later on. Also, don't be upset and change majors if you don't pass the class (either one) first time around. I had to take 110 twice. But 110 is a lot better taught than 40. Overall, nothing completely awful to say about him. —MarkMcDermott

2007-02-07 23:40:20   I took for Sean for ECS 40. It was a lot of work, but get used to it because that's how CS seems to be in my experience. I haven't been to a class since ECS 30 where I have to spends on the computer working on a program. Sean is really good teacher. Try to get him when he teaches ECS 30,40, and 110. —SebastianNg

2007-03-12 23:09:45   ECS 40 was fun times with Davis, although I really have no desire to repeat the experience. I like not having to work my butt off for weeks on end. —WilliamLewis

2007-07-06 23:31:08   First day of ECS 40. Class is standing room only. Sean arrives, announces "Welcome to ECS 40! This quarter, you'll be writing a word processor." Next session, room is maybe 1/3 full. Good times, good times. Anyway. Sean is awesome—he knows his stuff, and is tough but fair. —NicoleTheWonderNerd

2007-11-02 17:35:09   While some have accused Sean of lying about binomial queues having a non-binary structure, he is in fact correct. Still, be prepared to call shenanigans if Sean is talking fast. —AndrewPotter

2008-03-04 20:01:24   yes agreed great teacher, but tests were difficult —JeffBrauer

2008-03-05 07:54:37   He was a gifted teacher when I had him for 30. A ton of work, but not too bad if you split it with your partner. The tests are only hard if you don't understand what you are doing on the programming assignments. I didn't really understand pointers the first time they were tested, on the second midterm, but by the time the final comes around you already dealt with that monster program he gives during the last week or so of class, which has tons of pointers. I thought the final was really easy (he tells you in advance that a recursive string function will be on there, so look them up online and you will find the code[sparksnotes is pretty good]). The other questions are pretty much just like mini versions of the last program. So work hard on the last program and you don't have to study much for the final. —MattHh