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

4.7
stars
5,984 ratings
1,253 reviews

About the Course

The 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

SG

Jan 20, 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.

MM

Sep 29, 2017

good course, I like the fact you can use a lot of languages for you programming exercises, the content is really helpful, I would like to have more indications from the grading system to save time.

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1151 - 1175 of 1,192 Reviews for Algorithmic Toolbox

By Mohand G F

Aug 04, 2019

Explanation needs lots of Improvement. The problems are very hard comparing to the explanation

By Jayaprakash V

Sep 18, 2017

Algorithm Assignments at later weeks were tough and had an intention to opt out of course.

By Ashok R

Sep 13, 2019

The lectures were more narrative oriented and hence felt boring and monotonous at times.

By Deleted A

Sep 14, 2017

I enjoyed it, but the instructor was a little hard to understand at times.

By Omar K T

Dec 26, 2019

The course explanation was barely sufficient and often times confusing

By Muhammad O

Sep 17, 2019

Don't cover all the concept you have to search a lot to be good ..

By Dmitry G

Nov 18, 2016

Homework was very nice, but strong accent of lecturers impeded me

By Jorge B O

Dec 31, 2018

no todos los videos tienen subtitulos o estan bien explicados

By Amr A M

Aug 31, 2019

course should be more fixable and provide IDE for run codes

By Jayakumari M

Mar 04, 2020

Few videos in week 6 are not loading properly.

By Jitendra S

Aug 13, 2017

Need to more practise question

By Nicolas E

Oct 26, 2016

A little light on the theory

By Aryan V

Jul 07, 2019

subtitle donot work on pc

By Alan Z

May 17, 2018

Not well designed course

By 刘晓菡

Mar 03, 2018

kind of difficult

By Liangqu C

Sep 22, 2017

Feel not great

By Yi L

May 28, 2019

继续努力

By Nasim Z

Jun 15, 2016

Algorithmic Toolbox consists of a series of slides containing slimmed down explanations on introductory algorithmic concepts, followed up with programming assignments. The slides are the centrepiece of the course, as the presenters rarely stray from the bullet points and pseudocode they're comprised of.

I learned a lot during this course. Although, to gain confidence in your knowledge, this is a course that will require you to seek out additional materials to supplement your learning. Perhaps unsurprising being an introductory course, but the presenters struggle when faced with setting expectations.

Throughout the course presenters often gloss over fairly complex concepts, treating them as they were trivial knowledge. This applies to mathematical definitions, proofs where most steps are skipped, tree diagrams without the context of their underlying theory, or bullet points used in place of what could be detailed explanations.

All material is left equally weighted. Rather than providing explanations like: "We don't need to go into detail on this, only x concept from it is important for what we want to focus on. Reference this chapter in this book for more detail." presenters would read mathematical definitions verbatim from the slides and move on. I was often unsure of how much I would need to know about such concepts.

In terms of communication ability, the presenters don't hold up against many of the free/low-cost services I'm accustomed to using, for example: MIT OpenCourseWare, Udacity, edX, Khan Academy, Code School, Treehouse, etc. Perhaps unsurprising, as these competing services often feature professional communicators rather than professional researchers. But the marketplace for quality online education is definitely becoming a competitive one. Users now expect nothing less than presenters with exceptional communication/teaching ability.

In most videos the presenters read verbatim from the slides and motion with their hands to explain concepts that would be better broken down on a whiteboard. Rarely straying from the slides, the times the presenters go into more depth on a concept, you get a scribble in the corner of a slide, lacking the clarity I've come to expect when approaching complex concepts from master educators like YouTuber PatrickJMT or Khan Academy. After a couple weeks into the course, I just went straight to the slides, read MIT's Introduction to Algorithms, and skipped most of the course videos.

But all things considered, the course served as a good curriculum to guide my focus through the introductory concepts, regardless of where I sought it out.

By Zhongyu K

May 13, 2016

Even though this course covers a lot fundamentals for introduction to algorithm, the course itself is not designed as good as I expected. For starters, the weekly problem designs aren't very good. Some problem statements are ambiguous and not very clear unless you read more than one time or take a closer look at the examples. Often, the input format/arguments are designed to take redundant info. Some problem even has more than one possible correct outputs, which is just confusing for learning purpose.

In terms of lecture videos, it's good that there are some classic algorithm problems being demonstrated in the video, however the linkage between how to express a problem in mathematical languages is poorly explained. For example, in the lecture of edit distance, the realization of the matrix was not well explained at all. I personally appreciate a lot of the thorough proving steps introduced in the lectures, however I personally think the proofs are often not well explained to the audience (I also understand that it's more difficult to explain proving steps). Considering the large variety of audience, I would recommend the instructors separate the comprehensive more in-depth knowledge into optional videos, in this way the audiences could decide if they want to spend time in optional videos or not based on their own needs, meanwhile the instructors could spend a little bit more time to explain the difficult concepts better. Overall, I know that talking and analyzing algorithms can be kinda of boring and challenging, but I wish the course videos could be stated in a more interesting and intriguing way.

By VICTOR A

Apr 26, 2016

The course starts very promising, but it gets worse week after week, culminating on a barely understandable week about dynamic programming. That’s when I gave up and decided to write this review instead, with just one assignment missing to complete the course.

Some of the teachers aren’t native english speakers, which is fine, but their english is very hard to understand. I found myself having to watch some portions of the videos over and over again in order to understand what was being said. I tried reading the transcripts instead, but the they’re even worse! It seems that they were automatically generated from the videos, thus suffering with the poor pronunciation.

The teachers use mathematical sophistication that feels unnecessary, but to be fair, they do mention it on the FAQ as part of the necessary background. However, even though it’s an online course, they barely use any teaching method besides very raw slides, some dry mathematical proofs and someone speaking about the content. The only resources offered to help learning are a few open source visualizations. I expected much more.

The only good aspect from this course are the assignment checkers, which allow you to write your solutions in multiple languages.

I deeply regret the money and time I spent on this course.

By Sriragh K

Jul 16, 2018

The course has multiple limitations and can improve a lot more. Two main issues I faced were these:Dynamic programming part one lectures were very poor and hard to understand as a result of which I had to view external sources to understand the topicSecondly, the idea of not showing test cases is a bit strange as understanding the failing test cases do not really come in the way of understanding algorithm, it simply makes the questions much harder and tedious to solve. This completely eliminates the purpose of the course and wastes the time of most students. I am a bit disappointed with this course and didn't see it as value for money.

By Supharerk T

May 21, 2016

Update: As I proceed to wk 5, I know why there are some complaint on Dynamic programming,

Reduced to 2 stars. Lectures are totally useless for the assignment,

The course is really good until week 4 when it deteriorates very quick. No matter how many times I re-watch the lecture, I can't understand much. I ended up using wikipedia for the quiz instead :P

I can't use much of the course forum since there are too many posts there and it keep crashing my chrome.

This course gets my 3 stars from the first 3 weeks alone, otherwise it gonna be 0-2 stars.

By Tsz Y W

Jul 28, 2016

These two stars go to the instructor in week 1. I left the course after week 3 because I couldn't tolerate the accents of the instructors. I got frustrated starting from week 2 where I have to reread the subtitles to understand the material. Please let someone who can speak English fluently teach the course, please. The course goes kinds of fast, this is first course of the Specialization and it quickly jumps to Greedy algorithm, really? In general Algorithm course, it is usually taught late.

By Emilio B

Jan 25, 2017

The videos and explanations are very poor. Most of the time the instructors are reading off a script, and everything feels fake. By reading off a script they are forced to "hand-wave" and do not explain concepts covered completely.

The only thing I liked about this course were the problem sets, which were interesting to do. Will not buy rest of specialization, feels like this is just a cash cow for UCSD.

By Richard Z

May 04, 2019

I would say that the lecture part of this course is quite poor. The professor presents abstract concepts and pseudo-code without giving an example. It takes me a long time to figure out what the professor wants to say. He should've given out the example before explaining the concepts. The contents though is decent, and I learn a lot in his course.