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Deadline Approaches For Registration In Stanford's Free CS Classes

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the student-lounge-use-not-included dept.

AI 89

First time accepted submitter Gastrobot writes "Stanford University is offering some computer science classes for free. This has been discussed here twice before. The classes begin on Oct. 10th. At this point in time I'm aware of Stanford offering an Intro to Databases course, an Intro to AI course, and a Machine Learning course."

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AI (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 3 years ago | (#37598518)

Before this, I only knew of the Intro to AI course... might try the DB course too.

Re:AI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37598570)

I just obtained the intro to AI textbook. It's a thousand pages long. Good reading, but I've not the time to do a course.

Re:AI (1)

brian_tanner (1022773) | about 3 years ago | (#37598748)

Very low probability that the course will require you to read that entire textbook, unless it's unlike every AI course I've ever taken. Also, just watching the lectures and not doing the reading will probably be super interesting if it's like any AI course I've ever taken. (I have a Masters degree and most of a PhD specializing in AI and I think this course will be crazy interesting for most geek/nerd/tech-inclined people)

Re:AI (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37598786)

Before this, I only knew of the Intro to AI course...

In Soviet Russia, Intro to AI course knows of you.

Re:AI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37601424)

I Google +1 this.

Re:AI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37603958)

I have enrolled in Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Introduction to Databases. The opportunity to study Stanford University quality courses is too good to pass up and in some cases to have as instructor world-renowned experts in their field.

Exciting Time to Be Alive (3, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 3 years ago | (#37598526)

It is an exciting time to be alive. We are discovering planets around stars that people didn't know even existed 50 years ago. We can communicate with people around the world in real-time for free. We have access to information that you would have had to be rich and/or connected to access.

Now we are truly gaining access to knowledge from world class teachers for free. It is a truly amazing time to be alive and I am grateful to be living in this era. Our grandkids will take it for granted... my kids might too. But we are in a true inflection point in history. In a thousand years, people will look at the idea of countires and wars and not understand why they existed. World War II sparked a real change in thinking. The UN was a step toward a world community and world thinking. The internet has provided the techical means for connecting. Other technology has helped bridge the gap.

The vision has been there for a while and we are just beginning to realize that dream. We have growing pains for sure and will for a while... but we are getting there. This Stanford course is just one of the tremendous side effects.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (3, Informative)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 3 years ago | (#37598616)

In many parts of the world, university level education has been for free for several decades. And if it isn't free, then it is at least heavily state-sponsored and students receive funds from the governments to pay the tuition, and sometimes even their living costs entirely.

Of course, it's fun to be able to follow a Stanford course and learn of some differences. Of course, Stanford is a renowned institute, and possibly one of the best in the world.

But the high tuition fees in the USA are the exception rather than the rule, and free education is nothing new.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 3 years ago | (#37598732)

You have high costs too. Your gov't just absorbs it and you pay it through taxes.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (3, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 3 years ago | (#37599014)

Yup. I agree.
But there are costs for the Stanford lessons too... and they too are absorbed by someone else (US govt.? California? The other students who pay the tuition fees?).

Teaching certainly didn't become more efficient overnight. For proper education, students will still require individual attention from skilled teachers. Students will have to make tests, some of which are not multiple choice and must be corrected again by teachers. In short: education costs money.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37610678)

But there are costs for the Stanford lessons too... and they too are absorbed by someone else (US govt.? California? The other students who pay the tuition fees?).

Well, you'd have to do a full audit on the University's accounting, I'm not sure if this is just coming out of the regular CS Department budget, or if they're getting grants, private donations, or if the professors are paying for it out of their own pockets. But yes, you're correct that somebody IS paying a little bit of money for this option, if nothing else for bandwidth and server space. Most of the labor is free, however, because it's being done on a volunteer basis by Undergrad students as part of their education.

For proper education, students will still require individual attention from skilled teachers.

Some people, yes. Most people don't need much direct interaction, however, and simply benefit from having the material gathered, vetted, and presented in a structured format.
In College, you're expected to learn on your own. If you need direct individual attention then you'll have to rely on TA's and study groups, and if that's not enough get a private tutor, and if you still can't seem to "get it" then you need to consider changing your course of study or pursue options outside of a University.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

AdamJS (2466928) | about 3 years ago | (#37599134)

True enough. If you know you'll be having kids you'll want to put through College, then it immediately pays itself off. Otherwise, I would simply assume that the scientific and communal benefit from a highly educated populace is worth the tax rate - and try and hide the idea of social science majors from my mind.

Education cost quote (2)

fritsd (924429) | about 3 years ago | (#37604140)

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." ~Attributed to both Andy McIntyre and Derek Bok

!Free (2)

obijuanvaldez (924118) | about 3 years ago | (#37598784)

Correction: In many parts of the world, the costs associated with university level educations provided to students are subsidized by those who are not attending university.

Correction: Free education would be something new, since finding a way to provide education without a cost of resources that could be applied elsewhere would be entirely unheard of.

Re:!Free (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37598870)

Correction: Free education would be something new, since finding a way to provide education without a cost of resources that could be applied elsewhere would be entirely unheard of.

Digital education is not exactly new. Its new to some people, but that doesn't imply its new.

Re:!Free (1)

obijuanvaldez (924118) | about 3 years ago | (#37598958)

No, digital education is not new. But are you suggesting that there are no resources involved in providing it? No professors spending time creating the material and reviewing the coursework of the students? No costs of providing the online bandwidth? No costs of providing the student with the tools and environment in which to learn?

Re:!Free (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 3 years ago | (#37598946)

Correction: In many parts of the world, the costs associated with university level educations provided to students are subsidized by those who are not attending university.

I think it sounds more positive to say that education is paid by those who have already received it. But what you wrote is not wrong.

Re:!Free (1)

obijuanvaldez (924118) | about 3 years ago | (#37599102)

Correction: In many parts of the world, the costs associated with university level educations provided to students are subsidized by those who are not attending university.

I think it sounds more positive to say that education is paid by those who have already received it. But what you wrote is not wrong.

While it does sound more positive to say so, and is in the general case is probably the case, it would only be true to say that education is paid by those who have already received it if all those who currently pay to subsidize the formal, government provided education received a formal, government provided education. And in this case, that would be a formal, government provided, university education. It's a quibble, though; what you say is the more likely case.

Re:!Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599310)

The taxes are also paid by people who never attended university...

Yes Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599170)

By that definition nothing can exist in the known universe that is 'free'.

This air isn't free. It's subsidized!

Re:Yes Free (1)

obijuanvaldez (924118) | about 3 years ago | (#37599254)

By what definition? I provided no definition. But the provision of air is not a cost directly paid by anyone and would be hard to pin down. The costs of providing a university education are explicit and well known and most decidedly not 'free' no matter if the government subsidizes it or not.

Re:!Free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37602464)

Ultimately, society benefits from educated populace. Just like not everyone uses many services. I've never called the fire department, but I don't have a problem with it being available if I may need it.

I've never used FEMA, but I certainly appreciate the existence of such a thing. I don't know too many people who gripe about paying for basic education (elementary school, etc). I think we've seen pretty conclusively that universal education is extraordinarily good for societies. Those that did not aggressively pursue it 50 or 100 years ago are falling further behind. Mexico is a great example of a place that did not implement it, when a comparably poor place (Chile) did. Now the per-capita economy of Chile is nearly double that of Mexico. It's certainly not the only cause, but I posit that it is a contributor.

Instead of calling it "free", I don't mind the phrase "government subsidized", but some people have turned the "g-word" into a bad one so folks tend to avoid it...

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600078)

The difference is that in this case the marginal cost for adding new students is relatively small. Whether or not the costs are bourn by private citizens or the public sector doesn't factor into what makes this interesting.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

AJH16 (940784) | about 3 years ago | (#37599648)

The pessimist in me disagrees that the UN was the cause. Nukes were the cause. Trying to take something from another country because you want it is a lot less appealing when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they or one of their allies can still wipe you from the face of the planet. Large scale warfare died with the invention of the nuclear arsenal and for no other reason. WW2 didn't make us realize things needed to change, if world conflict made people realize the need for change, WW1 would have prevented WW2 from occurring. It is human nature for one group to try and take advantage of another group if they think they can get away with it. Nukes ensure that they can't and that they know they can't.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 3 years ago | (#37599726)

The UN was the first real attempt to get global concensus on issues of the day. Imperfect as it was and is, it has had an incredible positive effect on the world. The US could have wagged its dick in the air as the only superpower in the world and truly no other second tier powers made it through the war intact. Instead, it chose to push for an institution where they had to cooperate with other countries. We are very fortunate that we had leaders who thought about the next generations. That doesn't seem to exist any more...

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

kvezach (1199717) | about 3 years ago | (#37599918)

Wasn't the League of Nations the first real attempt to get global consensus?

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 3 years ago | (#37600070)

An excellent Yeah... I thought about the League of Nations as well... There may have been good intentions, but there was never a real political will to make it work. At least that is my take. The UN had the by-in early from the right people. Perhaps without the League of Nations we wouldn't have had the experience to manke the UN work.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600842)

The UN doesn't work.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

AJH16 (940784) | about 3 years ago | (#37602692)

I would still hazard that the cold war was at least as formative. If it was not for the two big giants forcing everyone in to one of two camps, then things would have been considerably more chaotic. Just look at what happened after the Soviet Union broke up. A large portion of that area went to hell without the governance that had been unifying against a threat. In the case of the west, the threat may have gone away, but the connections that were forged continue. This same principal can be seen in politics with the whole notion of divide and conquer and the notion (particularly in America) of voting for the lesser of two evils when it comes to elections. The main reason two large alliances don't end up like every other alliance before them was for no amount of distrust or lack of desire to be able to remove the threat by direct action, but rather the knowledge that doing so would result in unacceptable losses. Don't get me wrong, the UN helped to stabilize a situation that would have otherwise been more likely to go the disastrous route, but the UN would not have worked if not for the way the world was altered by nuclear powers. It still does serve a fairly valuable roll, but even simply looking at the issues that have crept in with fracturing when there is no diametrically opposed sides, you can see how significant the cold war was to the formulation of the UN.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 3 years ago | (#37601098)

It is an exciting time to be alive. We are discovering planets around stars that people didn't know even existed 50 years ago. We can communicate with people around the world in real-time for free. We have access to information that you would have had to be rich and/or connected to access.

On the other hand, our economic model is being outdated by automation, our energy resources are running out, and climate change is switching to big gear.

I think that the next hundred years will determine humanity's destiny: either we overcome our problems, or they destroy us. Which reminds me of an old Chinese curse...

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37601368)

Couldn't have said it better myself. I feel the same. I think a lot do.

I personally think we are moving toward a world without politicians. Have you seen the MAKE stuff out there? 3d printing for cheap as well? We are open sourcing everything, which is the fastest way to cut the head off of the snake that is poisoning us I think.

Who wants to help me make an online marketplace where people buy, sell, and trade with just themselves and what they make and what services they can offer, with as little use of corporations goods as possible, just to help accelerate the advance of the species. Politicians and the systems we have developed to keep ourselves safe are now holding us down because humanity is growing up.

Deal with it world. Time to be better than what we were before. If you don't want to be better, we will be sure to leave you on this planet when we blast the fuck off of it.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (1)

alexo (9335) | about 3 years ago | (#37603546)

I personally think we are moving toward a world without politicians.

Personally, I feel that power becomes more concentrated, the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows and politicians (and lawyers) gain more control over our lives.

For every natural barrier we bring down, two artificial ones spring up.

Re:Exciting Time to Be Alive (2)

alexo (9335) | about 3 years ago | (#37603460)

It is an exciting time to be alive. We are discovering planets around stars that people didn't know even existed 50 years ago. We can communicate with people around the world in real-time for free. We have access to information that you would have had to be rich and/or connected to access.

Our culture is being locked down by middlemen, a piece at a time, for decades to come. Our governments spy on us and assassinate us with no due process. Progress is being hindered by rent-seeking patent trolls and "big players". Peoples' rights and liberties are being eroded in the name of "security" and "the children". The rich and powerful get huge handouts for sinking companies or ruining financial systems and the "have-nots" are left holding the bag. Countries wage unwinnable wars, often under false pretenses, cost (in lives and resources) be damned...

Yes, these are truly exciting times we live in.

laptop battery (0)

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Misleading Headline (1)

obijuanvaldez (924118) | about 3 years ago | (#37598578)

These are not free courses. The ability to audit these courses is what is free. If you are not a Stanford student, you will receive neither credit nor a grade.

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37598658)

Does the grade matter all that much if you gain the knowledge?

Sure, if you're an undergrad, but not if you already have a degree and are using the course to learn

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 3 years ago | (#37598744)

Does the grade matter all that much if you gain the knowledge?

It will matter to the headhunters/evil HR directors who put ridiculous qualifications in job descriptions. F'rinstance, one of the qualifications listed for my job was SPSS. Luckily I used it for one of my college stats classes, but I've never used it once in over 7 years at my current job, and probably never will.

Re:Misleading Headline (5, Insightful)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 years ago | (#37598930)

Hmm... as these are fairly early level university courses, I don't think it really matters whether they're accredited or not -- there is no such thing as "an eighth of a degree" or whatever, after all.

However, most CVs have a section for "Education" (School and University) and a section for "Other training and certificates" where you would list any sort of training you did that wasn't part of an accredited academic program -- I would see no problem with listing them there, if they are relevant to the role you're applying for. Remember that one of the buzzwords of our era is "CPD" -- Continual Professional Development. If you show an interest in proactively developing your career, that in itself is appealing to employers.

HAL.

Re:Misleading Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599190)

You may not get official credit, but there's nothing stopping you from putting "Attended Stanford University Engineering Everywhere classes for Computer Science" on that resume.

Re:Misleading Headline (3, Interesting)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | about 3 years ago | (#37604002)

I signed up for the course on databases, and I see that there are scheduled due dates for homework assignments and exams. This implies that there will be a record of successful completion. What's more, the requirements are more demanding than the online course I'm taking that will give me college credits from an accredited institution.

I know the college I attend has rules for testing to fulfill requirements in lieu of taking a course. I'm hoping that completing this course and demonstrating I know the material through a test will let me complete a certificate I've been working on.

Online education is rapidly becoming more widespread. Employers will have to start acknowledging that people who've taken online courses and can prove they know the material have a valid claim to skill.

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#37599180)

Funny how that works. Ive seen jobs offered I know I could do since I have programming experience from CS classes, my applied mathematics curriculum, as well as experience working in a lab as a programmer during my MS curriculum. All it would take is maybe a month of learning the languages they want, however since I don't KNOW it right now they won't even consider me. This being the case, I just decided Im going to learn a bunch of them on my own. It boggles my mind why HR and management don't understand once you have taught yourself to learn, and proven that you can do so by getting good grades and a masters degree, that you would be able to fulfill jobs that may not be specifically in your immediate skill set. I mean come on, I know how to program in C, C++, C#, Java, and Matlab, pretty sure I could learn Python or SPSS assholes.

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

The Moof (859402) | about 3 years ago | (#37601014)

All it would take is maybe a month of learning the languages they want

That's sort of the point of why they didn't hire you. They're looking to hire someone who can do the job, not hire someone who will require a month of training beyond the normal orientation and training.

Also, it's worth mentioning that no amount of programming in CS classes will be as useful as actual real-world programming experience (I'm not sure how well lab programming equates to this). Once in a while, someone (usually still in college) asks for advice on getting a job after graduating. I tell them to get experience by contributing to a FOSS project.

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#37601154)

1 month is pretty standard for training time. My current job has a 3 month training time. This basically boils down to the age old "How can I get experience when nobody hires anyone without experience?" problem. Thankfully I am supporting C# programmers right now on our platform so its a good stepping stone.

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

The Moof (859402) | about 3 years ago | (#37601802)

That's the point - you already have a 3 month training time. If you have to add another month because your new applicant needs to learn the programming language being used, that instantly becomes a 4 month training time. If there is another equally qualified candidate who already knows the language, then why would you hire the guy who doesn't know it?

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#37601434)

CS classes will be as useful as actual real-world programming experience

One more thing. I see this sentiment a lot, but I fail to actually see it in real life, at least if you are referring to the programming side of things. Im sure the business side has a learning curve. Im pretty sure I can program anything I need to program, it just might take some research. Who doesn't do research when they program something new? Do you remember absolutely everything and never need to look anything up? A proper science curriculum teaches you how to look for information, and how to absorb it for application. Sure, you may not learn every quirk of a particular platform or language in school, but you learn how to digest such information and adapt if you didn't spend your time in college getting drunk and burning out. I get the feeling that too many programmers whom never went to college have jealousy issues with people who did, and have to make shit up about how incompetent they are just to feel better about themselves. These are the same people that have grievous gaps in their knowledge. In my own experience with self-taught programmers, they don't even know basic precalculus stuff, or trigonometry, or numerical analysis. Having experience programming for trading platforms, this doesn't make any fucking sense. You can simplify your algorithms, or do many different things more efficiently if you simply understood this information. I have had people actually have problems actually figuring out how to calculate slopes of lines, or solve for a variable in some equation. Give me a break. This is inexcusable for someone who is suppose to be making software that works efficiently, and correctly.

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

The Moof (859402) | about 3 years ago | (#37601926)

I suggest you read the message I was replying to - the OP was complaining that programming in CS classes is not considered experience by HR.

Is it Free as in "Freedom"? (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about 3 years ago | (#37598826)

I don't think so. If I sign up for the database class, the professor will expect me to learn about databases (even if I'd rather learn about something else).

Re:Misleading Headline (1)

obijuanvaldez (924118) | about 3 years ago | (#37598918)

I think the grade and the associated credits do matter. Otherwise, Stanford would have some explaining to do as to why they are still charging people for those things.

To be fair, I think it is neat that they are allowing people to view their course material and provide feedback to people attempting to learn the material. In this case this is Computer Science. However, in this case, there are already many existing resources, both offline and online, that can provide people with the ability to learn. The difference here is that some of those same materials are being provided by a renowned university. However, while the knowledge to be gained is not enhanced by that, the marketability of those who do get a grade and credit is.

Re:Misleading Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37598694)

it is a free course. You will not receive a credit or a grade, but you will get the knowledge.

beginner friendly? (1)

meow27 (1526173) | about 3 years ago | (#37598642)

Im a beginner learning how to program.

would i understand/benefit from the course material from an undeveloped background?

Re:beginner friendly? (1)

Plombo (1914028) | about 3 years ago | (#37598724)

My guess would be no.

Re:beginner friendly? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 3 years ago | (#37598804)

You wouldn't. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but this is a very advanced course. There are many other free resources on the web that would be more beneficial to a newer programmer.

Re:beginner friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37598830)

Intro to AI and Machine Learning might be pretty complex. But I think you could probably handle Into to Databases if you put your mind to it.

Re:beginner friendly? (1)

0racle (667029) | about 3 years ago | (#37598892)

These, maybe not. Well, probably not the AI or computer learning one but the DB one might. However, Stanford has other lecture series that would be of benefit to someone learning to program, as that is what they are targeting. Stanford Engineering Everywhere [stanford.edu] has released three of their biginning CS courses. Start with 106a, which does not require anything beyond a willingness to learn.

Re:beginner friendly? (1)

jdpars (1480913) | about 3 years ago | (#37599270)

Thank you. I've been looking for something like this off and on for a while now. Watching the first lecture now!

Re:beginner friendly? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37598972)

Im a beginner learning how to program.

would i understand/benefit from the course material from an undeveloped background?

Yes, I've read the Russell and Norvig textbook the AI class is using and you'll do OK without a programming background.

It is not a training class like a "third semester C++ with implementation of AI concepts and special focus on C++ polymorphism syntax" where you must have taken first and second semester to survive. Its more like reading Knuth where you think about algorithms a lot in psuedocode.

Programming classes legendarily do a poor job of teaching logical thinking and reasoning skills anyway. Good at weeding out those who can't, but not so good at teaching them. Sink or swim, etc. So you're not missing much by skipping the stereotypical first year classes, unless you want to implement what you've learned.

In other words, the book is definitely an educational text as opposed to a training text, the class will probably reflect that.

Also, its free... if you try it and don't like it, thats OK. Its not going on your transcript, or permanent record, there is no nonrefundable $5000 tuition fee...

Re:beginner friendly? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#37599256)

Programming classes legendarily do a poor job of teaching logical thinking and reasoning skills anyway.

I think that is why employers usually like it when you have a strong math background as well. Just looking at average salaries for applied math / CS guys its quite a bit more than just a CS guy (unless you program for some high demand field).

Re:beginner friendly? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#37599224)

You would need some programming experience. Something like 1 year of university courses in CS or a few "CS for Dummies" books. The issue is you wont understand how programming works, its syntax, etc.

Re:beginner friendly? (2)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about 3 years ago | (#37599428)

Im a beginner learning how to program.

would i understand/benefit from the course material from an undeveloped background?

From their webpage:

Programming is not required, however we believe it will be very helpful for some of the homework assignments. You may write code in any language you would like to (we recommend Python if you are new to programming) and your code will not be graded.

So, don't let all these people saying it's too advanced for you discourage you. Try it out, what do you have to lose? Worst case scenario, you don't finish the course and don't get a little certificate that, really, isn't worth anything. Best case scenario, you find you have aptitude for the subject and learn quite a lot.

Some resources (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | about 3 years ago | (#37604144)

A lot of accredited institutions offer courses that are entirely online, including the community college where I've been taking courses, City College of San Francisco [ccsf.edu] ; those aren't free, but they're not terribly expensive.

Several institutions offer complete course materials online for free, most notably MIT [mit.edu] . Unlike the courses at Stanford, those aren't active courses, however, so there's are no other students with whom to interact unless you go out and find some, no record of your participation, and no assessment.

There are many tutorials for most programming languages, and some computer science theory, available online.

Some public libraries offer free access to Safari Online, which includes hundreds of tech books, including books on programming.

Ok but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37598678)

How is this much different than many of the courses that are already free online? Aside from the chance that if you have a really good question it might be addressed by staff on some weekly video there is nothing new here that isn't offered elsewhere.

Re:Ok but... (1)

brian_tanner (1022773) | about 3 years ago | (#37598764)

The answer is that it's being taught by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. They are each kindof a big deal.

Can I take all three? (1)

tkel (2454568) | about 3 years ago | (#37598730)

Or is that a bad idea?

Re:Can I take all three? (1)

aBaldrich (1692238) | about 3 years ago | (#37598816)

I already know db, so I'm taking the three of them. But I guess there's nothing wrong with trying.

Re:Can I take all three? (1)

I Read Good (2348294) | about 3 years ago | (#37600060)

I've had AI and DB courses before, so I'm taking all of them. It probably depends on your level of experience and your level of commitment. Plus, you can switch to the basic track if it gets too deep/hard or you become disinterested.

Re:Can I take all three? (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | about 3 years ago | (#37600156)

If you look at the courses, one expounds on another. The first course is programming concepts with java programming, second gets more in depth, requiring a good knowledge from the first course, and uses C++, third gets pretty deep and requires a good knowledge courses 1 and 2 as well as a good knowledge of C++.

Of course, all of this information comes from the website, but I guess it's too much to ask someone on /. to look at the site... even if they are interested in "taking the course".

Re:Can I take all three? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 years ago | (#37600644)

I think you're looking at the wrong courses. What does database programming have to do with AI and machine learning? And who implements databases, neural nets or genetic algorithms in Java?

Re:Can I take all three? (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | about 3 years ago | (#37601564)

I was referring to the three CS courses, which were the main point of the article post.

Re:Can I take all three? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37604062)

nothing in your post sounds anything like any of these courses

Does it matter? (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37598818)

Does registration matter?

I signed up for the AI class and am now set up as the "basic" course, where they issue a syllabus and I watch some video lectures and read some book chapters. It'll all be freely available, legally or not. So other than adding my email addrs to yet another marketing list, I'm not thinking I've gained anything.

In the advanced course they "require" you to do the (ungraded) homework and take the exams, but if I don't, nothing happens, and if I do, nothing happens. Its very much like a new years resolution to lose weight or quit smoking. So I'm not thinking signing up will gain me anything.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#37599278)

Don't they issue a certificate if you pass the course? Shit, I signed up for the basic and I wanted to get the certificate, just so I can add some fluff to my CV (yeah, sort of bullshit but employers like it).

Re:Does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599928)

You can always switch into the advanced track. The course hasn't even started, so there shouldn't be any problem at all.

Re:Does it matter? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 3 years ago | (#37599956)

So, your goal is to fluff up your resume rather than actually learnin? Frankly, I am not disappointed that you aren't gaining anything from it.

Why take the course? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 years ago | (#37599300)

IF the info is available and you can study it on your own, why sign up? You do not get college credit for it, you cant put it on your resume.

I downloaded the documentation and will be grabbing the video and other info as it progresses, but I will not be signing up. with 25,000 registered you have zero chance of asking the prof a question.

Re:Why take the course? (1)

FreeSpeechForTheDumb (1823322) | about 3 years ago | (#37599656)

IF the info is available and you can study it on your own, why sign up? You do not get college credit for it, you cant put it on your resume.

Because having exams at a set time is a great motivator! I've had the AI Modern approach book sitting on my book shelf for over a year until now.

with 25,000 registered you have zero chance of asking the prof a question.

Well the prof is only going to answer the top rated questions. So if other users find your question useful and it gets rated up, then there's a good chance that he will answer it.

Re:Why take the course? (1)

ThinkWeak (958195) | about 3 years ago | (#37599712)

Some people learn new concepts easier when there is a structured learning environment. Sure, you can find plenty of tutorials on just about anything, but there's nothing wrong with having deadlines to adhere to and a structure to follow.

Re:Why take the course? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600124)

In my experience, if you're required to do your homework every week to get a certificate, you will study more thoroughly and retain more. If you can muster the same discipline without an external incentive that's enviable.

Re:Why take the course? (1)

jafac (1449) | about 3 years ago | (#37600722)

I've taken many online classes, in the CompSci discipline before. I figure, if I just walk through this curriculum, there's a chance I can provide useful feedback to the professor, and Stanford, and what worked and what didn't.

stanford paid me to take these classes (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 3 years ago | (#37599628)

Not very much for low-paid grad student R&D labor. But it cost less than nothing.

Good way to sell course textbooks! :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37599926)

For the free AI course, one sees 3 versions of AIMA in "file-sharing space" (actually, 2.5... one appears incomplete...)

But for those who buy textbooks, the authors surely thank-you very much for your business (from a good percentage of the 130,000 students registered for AIMA course alone...)

Feedback question for Intro to AI course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600386)

Should we be disappointed if the promised "feedback on course progress" isn't produced via AI-driven automation?

watch out for Intro to Databases class... (1)

schmiddy (599730) | about 3 years ago | (#37600700)

First, let me say that I really appreciate the work Stanford put into these online classes, especially the "free for everyone" aspect. They've done a great job pioneering free online classes _done well_, with lecture videos recorded well plus lecture notes plus banks of review questions plus exams. Really a great package overall.

I'm slowly going through the Machine Learning class, and the course is great. The instructor does a great job of easing the student into an otherwise math-heavy topic with graphing and hand-plotting, "Intuition", and simple examples.

However, I want to discourage anyone from investing a bunch of time in the "Introduction to Databases Course". Here's a slightly-edited explanation I sent to a friend, to whom I had at first recommended the course, before I had a chance to go through some of the videos (just a background note, I've worked with RDBMSs for several years, as an application developer, plus occassionally DBA, plus some work on an OSS RDBMS):

After watching two or three of that class's videos I've decided to give up on it. The course seems to have a needless emphasis on XML data storage, which turns out to be basically useless for real-world big data problems. Plus, either the Professor's presentation is unacceptably sloppy or she just doesn't know what she's talking about: lecture video #2 (or #3, I forget) was particularly bad, with imprecise terminology thrown around (row vs tuple) plus highly questionable database design being presented matter-of-factly (table of students flagrantly violates what's known as "Primary Keyvil"). She dove straight into the use of NULLs in this example table, presenting them as perfectly acceptable -- which would be OK for an "intro to MySQL"-type class, but not for a real course on the background of relational theory and RDBMSs (see "SQL and Relational Theory" and its treatment of NULLs).

Not to dissuade you from taking it of course, there is probably some useful information in there.

Seeing the professor present her table of students as a simple cut-and-dried example, with an explanation that "student ID" was an acceptable primary key, and no other unique keys on the table, really gives me a poor opinion of the professor's real-world subject matter knowledge.

Re:watch out for Intro to Databases class... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37602432)

"Student ID" is an acceptable primary key - you will be able to tell if two rows are duplicates based on this alone. It's not automatically generated by the database, which is the primary keyvil syndrome. A student ID is assigned to a student outside of that database. It's as unique as it would be to include the students DNA in number form as the primary key.
It's splitting hairs, but it's what professors tends to do anyway.

Re:watch out for Intro to Databases class... (2)

schmiddy (599730) | about 3 years ago | (#37606938)

Sigh, you've missed the entire point of the "Primary Keyvil" articles (Part 1 [toolbox.com] , Part 2 [toolbox.com] , Part 3 [toolbox.com] ), and many similar ones. Let's go through your drivel point by point.

"Student ID" is an acceptable primary key - you will be able to tell if two rows are duplicates based on this alone.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. A surrogate key, like "student ID", actually is an acceptable "primary key" for a table, but only if you have a real way to tell apart your users, something based on an understanding of an answer to the question "what defines a unique student, and how am I going to verify that?".

It's not automatically generated by the database, which is the primary keyvil syndrome.

VERY WRONG! From the database's point of view, and the "primary keyvil" syndrome, it doesn't matter if you fill in the "student ID" using, say, a database function called SYS_GUID(), or whether you generate this GUID on the client side. Read Part 1 of the Primary Keyvil syndrome articles for another example. But let's take our example of a table of students and run with it. You, the database application developer and schema designer, have created a table of students where the only unique key is a "student ID". Let's pretend you're smart, and you only assign new student IDs to new students coming through the gate on admission day. So far, so good, right?

Well, you're sitting in your office when a freshman comes in and says "Hey, I lost my ID. How do I get a new one". Now you're in a tough spot. You could say "what's your student ID number?", and if the student knows it, then you print off a new student ID for him, since you know who he is based on his ID number, right? Uh oh, you've just opened a door to students impersonating other students. But let's ignore that problem for now... what do you do if the poor kid doesn't know his ID number? Well, you ask him..... his name? Right? What if it's "Joe Smith", and you have fifty of those in your giant state school? Uh, I guess you ask him his name, and his street address, right? That's got to be unique, right? Or maybe his current SSN, those can never change, right? And how do you prove that the student in front of you is really who he says he is?

The frantic grasping around in the above paragraph is why you need to have a good answer to the question "what distinguishes a unique student?" before you go designing a table like this. There are several ways to answer this question: in practice, you might enforce unique constraints on (full name + home phone number), or maybe just a unique key on SSN if you're daring. But either way, relying solely on some arbitrary identifier like "Student ID" with no actual anchor in reality opens all sorts of paths to trouble. (Incidentally, the social security administration has the same problem, they've just thought through and been through the consequences. They have elaborate, formal answers to the question "how do we distinguish unique people, regardless of SSN", for scenarios like assigning new SSNs, changing SSNs, replacing lost social security cards to people who don't remember their SSN, etc etc.)

Another major problem I didn't even touch on, is how your model would prevent a user from getting two student IDs, either intentionally or accidentally. If you haven't answered these fundamental questions, you will have a database full of garbage. Kind of like the No Fly List.

It's as unique as it would be to include the students DNA in number form as the primary key.

Privacy concerns aside, DNA would actually be a totally reasonable way to distinguish unique students -- student comes in to your office, you take a cheek swab, and issue him his replacement ID card. (Hrm, I guess this is ignoring the issue of genetic clones..)

Tangentially related article which it sounds like you need to read, in addition to getting a basic understanding of "surrogate keys": Falsehoods programmers believe about names [kalzumeus.com] .

It's splitting hairs, but it's what professors tends to do anyway.

I wish professors would do their jobs, and split hairs about issues like this. Then we'd have fewer cocksure fools on Slashdot. Sigh, one can dream.

Re:watch out for Intro to Databases class... (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 3 years ago | (#37603080)

I'm confused as to what is so evil about autogenerated primary keys. I mean, I would rather have one arbitrary number be able to refer to a unique row than a much longer set of four columns.

Now, if you want to say there should be other constraints... often that's the case. But I'd be hard pressed to think of one for a Students table. I mean, students with the same name ought be allowed. I knew them.

Re:watch out for Intro to Databases class... (1)

suy (1908306) | about 3 years ago | (#37610790)

I've just joined and watched the two first videos, but...

Why don't you post this comment to the DB's Forum? That's the nice thing about this online course, you can interact with hundreds (thousands?) of students, and I guess that the teachers will be available to read constructive criticism, too. Maybe it was just a mistake, and everybody can benefit if someone points it out.

signed up for two of the three (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37600712)

I'm signed up for two of the three classes: AI and machine learning. I'm taking the easy track because I'm going to college full time right now and I don't think I could put in enough time to go the harder almost-graded route. I wanted to take them because I'm stuck doing general ed for two years (like everyone else) and I can't wait to transfer out of community college and start learning computer science. Also, I'm not sure I can handle the math. I'm at pre-calc 1 right now but they have some videos for linear algebra on the class websites and so far it doesn't seem that difficult. If they do the same thing in a year or two when I've gotten through calculus I might take the classes again on the higher track just to try to learn more. The college I intend to transfer has an AI certificate but it looks pretty weak.

Right now my first dream job would be anything that teaches/forces me to learn AI and machine learning and this seems like a good way to keep my life interesting and prepare.

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