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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Algorithmic Toolbox by University of California San Diego

12,368 ratings

About the Course

This online course covers basic algorithmic techniques and ideas for computational problems arising frequently in practical applications: sorting and searching, divide and conquer, greedy algorithms, dynamic programming. We will learn a lot of theory: how to sort data and how it helps for searching; how to break a large problem into pieces and solve them recursively; when it makes sense to proceed greedily; how dynamic programming is used in genomic studies. You will practice solving computational problems, designing new algorithms, and implementing solutions efficiently (so that they run in less than a second)....

Top reviews


Jan 19, 2017

I liked the fact that the algorithms are not just the introductory searching and sorting algorithms. The assignments are fairly difficult (I have decent scripting experience), but not impossibly so.


Jan 19, 2021

The course was really amazing which provided deep knowledge from basic to advance that how algorithms works and how to design algorithms. Thanks to all the expert teachers who taught in this course.

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By Vishal

Jul 28, 2019


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Feb 26, 2019


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May 16, 2018


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Aug 5, 2017


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May 15, 2017


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Jan 1, 2024


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Oct 31, 2020


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May 24, 2022


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Sep 29, 2018


By Vu B

May 22, 2016

I agree with some of the reviews here. It's fantastic at the beginning of the course. Towards the end, unfortunately the professor's accent is heavy and sometimes difficult to understand. The subtitles don't help either because they were auto-generated. My brain had to take extra cognitive workload to decipher what was actually said before trying to understand the materials on the slides and everything else. I also didn't like the way index 0 and 1 is mixed in different lectures. Why shouldn't we stay consistent in pseudocode using index starting with either 0 or 1? The slides are confusing regarding this matter especially when you translate algorithms into code.

Nonetheless, I liked the assignments overall. The course's instructors included some of very interesting problems and indeed helped understand the lessons better. I also liked the course structure and the carefully prepared slides.

By Michael L

Jun 4, 2021

The lectures are fine and explain the concepts. The book that you buy with this course isn't really useful, its is largely a rehash of the questions, with very little other content. The issue I had was with the exercises. To get 100% you have to do all, which is fine, though a bit time consuming. The issue is the tester not showing the test case. Granted we should develop test cases, but using property based testing etc. is a whole other topic. It is a real waste of time to spend hours on something that turns out a trivial edge case. That a bit more information from the test case output/grader would have pointed out. The end result is fairly inefficient learning. I want to get a refresher on techniques. Fiddling try to find out what test case causes an issue sort of distracts from the core of the course, in my opinion.

By Daniel S

Nov 21, 2021

This course is the first part of a specialization, and I was a beta tester when the course was practically nothing at all. Now that the instructors have filled it out a bit, it's revealed as what I could call "adequate". I would not be encouraged by what I have seen of this course's full content to undertake the specialization, although I'm sure that the dedicated student will find it challenging and thorough. My assessment is that there are better courses and course sequences on offer for the study of algorithms and algorithmic complexity that cover the material of this course. I have not done any evaluation of later courses in this specialization, but they might be better than this one. So, not exactly a thumbs-down from me, but IMO, you can do better.

By hrugved w

Jun 3, 2019

Course is overall great but some cons as per me:

1) The instructor`s accent was hard to catch sometimes.

2) I know Discussion forums are for students and testing solutions is one of the most important part but after trying for so much time, there are times when one cant catch the failed test case and neither other students(atleast those who posted). In such cases there is practically no other way than to leave that assignment as it is. I just think Ta`s should be more involved in forums and should give some insights when some student has failed after so many attempts. As there are still posts with same doubts as mine which are unanswered from 2-3 months.In short forums should be as great as udemy`s forums.

By Kyle H

Jul 28, 2016

The problem sets are great and probably worth the price, but the lectures become very hard to follow after week 3 and the discussion forums are very disorganized - it's hard to find useful information. Some of the lectures have slides available, some don't; some of the lectures have somewhat-useful subtitles/transcripts, others have incomprehensible garbled messes (I don't know if they're machine-generated or just transcribed by someone with no understanding of the material/vocabulary - logarithm != algorithm!).

I really like the problem sets, but some of the lectures are pretty rough, just a guy talking in front of some pseudocode for 10 minutes. The instructors seem friendly and engaging, though.

By Dilyan M

Aug 25, 2017

I learned a whole lot, but the course wasn't easy, chiefly because of reasons beyond the subject matter. Some lectures were really hard to follow. I get that English is not some of these guys' native language (it's not mine either), so they can't make everything as information-dense as native speakers, but there were a number of confusing parts, mostly in the pseudo code or the general explanation of the algorithms, especially in the Dynamic Programming module.

It was an OK experience and I learned quite a bit, but I'll probably be dropping this specialization in favor of another one that tackles similar subject matter.

By Ayush G

Jul 12, 2020

I've given only 3 stars because of the two reasons:

1) Grader for programming assignments is very language specific. I submitted java code and the response was "failed case", when I submitted the same code using python I got my grade. This happened many times with me.

2) Sometimes explanation of few topics is very poor. I've to search for the same topic on internet for better understanding.

Still, I learned many new things and enjoyed doing programming assignments. If someone wants to learn about Algorithms from basics I'll definitely recommend this course.

Thank You

By thomas m

Oct 19, 2017

Not bad overview of greedy, d&c and dynamic algorithms however the examples within the lectures and the way they were presented was not often clear. I found much better ways of explaining these elsewhere online with more cohesive and clearly connected thought processes. I'm new to this and maybe it's just the way i think and my lack of background but the way subproblems were integrated back into main problem were either glossed over or considered so "obvious" that they weren't worth mentioning.

By Francisco R

Nov 29, 2016

I really had a hard time understanding Dynamic Programming. I recoomend to remove this topic and focus more on solidifying foundations so that students can be more prepared for moving through the whole Algorithm Courses. I never heard of this topic before and the lecturer ommited many steps when explaining the Edit Distance. I was forced to look for other resources like Open Courseware Algorithms course, and this is how could understand what was dynamic programming easily. Hope this helps!

By Omar M

Aug 17, 2021

I didn't like this course much, being honest it was very useful in the very first 3 weeks and helped me to get a strong foundation in Algorithmic Toolbox, however the teachers aren't giving much details in the last few weeks, explanation is almost reciting a concept without a real expanation.. Nevertheless, I do like the assignments much they pushed me to get knowledge from various external sources and guided me to get to where I want

By Alex

Sep 19, 2016

Overall is good course with many exercises, forum is supportive, however mentors/instructors never answered my questions (i guessed they bothered only with the very first session when course was launched) Language is sometimes overly complicated and hard to grasp the main principles of the algorithm (e.g. dynamic programming week 5) I watched youtube to understand same ideas but explained in much simpler way.

By Siddhant P

Apr 18, 2020

Material is good... But a bit explanation lacks while teaching by the instructors... It would have been better if more elaboration was provided... It seems that in some of the videos the instructor was just reading from the slides and not by their knowledge. I wont be recommending it if you have already a prior knowledge of the topics.

1/5 to instructors

4/5 to material

4/5 to assignments

3/5 to references

By Anurag G

Dec 20, 2020

Explanation on the video is too complex, and literlly no help on the forum by the Faculty. Many threads are answered after 4 - 6 months. Even on those the reply most of the time is do the stress test.

I strongly feel this course targets only those who have an excellent programming skills, with begainner to moderate level skills, one will struggle and letterally will not get any help whats so ever.

By Anirudh K

Oct 5, 2019

The learning curve becomes very steep towards the end of the course. Also sometimes it's difficult to understand what the instructor is speaking and the transcripts aren't very good. The assignments need to have some more problems in the easier category as it's only by doing many problems one gets hold of a concept. Although the difficult problems help , but they tend to be more demotivating

By Dennis L

Jan 17, 2018

The course is good overall but I worry that for the non technically oriented the examples are very terse and could use more visual linking and vocal guidance on what the variables in the examples actually are, and the thinking behind the code presented. There are also a ton of implementation based gotchas depending on the language that a green developer is likely to get hung up on.