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AI Education

Deadline Approaches For Registration In Stanford's Free CS Classes 89

Posted by timothy
from the student-lounge-use-not-included dept.
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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Deadline Approaches For Registration In Stanford's Free CS Classes

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  • by SJHillman (1966756)

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

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:06AM (#37598526) Journal

    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.

    • by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:16AM (#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.

      • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:25AM (#37598732) Journal

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

        • by captainpanic (1173915) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:45AM (#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.

        • by AdamJS (2466928)
          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.
        • "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." ~Attributed to both Andy McIntyre and Derek Bok
      • 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.
        • by vlm (69642)

          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.

          • 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?
        • 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.

          • 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.

    • by AJH16 (940784)

      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

      • 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

        • by kvezach (1199717)
          Wasn't the League of Nations the first real attempt to get global consensus?
          • 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.

        • by AJH16 (940784)

          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 poli

    • by ultranova (717540)

      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 destin

    • by alexo (9335)

      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 fals

  • 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.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      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

      • 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.

        • by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Tuesday October 04, 2011 @09:38AM (#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.

        • 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 on
          • by The Moof (859402)

            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 the

            • 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.
              • by The Moof (859402)
                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?
            • 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 i

              • by The Moof (859402)
                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.
      • 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).
      • 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. T
  • Im a beginner learning how to program.

    would i understand/benefit from the course material from an undeveloped background?
    • by Plombo (1914028)
      My guess would be no.
    • 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.

    • by 0racle (667029)
      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.
      • by jdpars (1480913)
        Thank you. I've been looking for something like this off and on for a while now. Watching the first lecture now!
    • by vlm (69642)

      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

      • 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).

    • 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.
    • 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.

    • 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 asse

  • Or is that a bad idea?
    • I already know db, so I'm taking the three of them. But I guess there's nothing wrong with trying.
    • 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.
    • 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".
      • 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?
  • 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

    • 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).
    • 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.

  • They have a website with lots of free course material:

    http://see.stanford.edu/see/courseinfo.aspx?coll=348ca38a-3a6d-4052-937d-cb017338d7b1 [stanford.edu]

    They tend to have very good professors giving the recorded lectures.

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • by ThinkWeak (958195)
      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.
    • by index0 (1868500)

      http://www.google.ca/search?q=define%3Aautodidact [google.ca]

      autodidact/ôtddakt/
      Noun: A self-taught person.

    • by jafac (1449)

      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.

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

    • 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.

    • by suy (1908306)

      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.

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