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Back to Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (Project-Centered Course)

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (Project-Centered Course) by Hebrew University of Jerusalem

4.9
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2,497 ratings
774 reviews

About the Course

What you’ll achieve: In this project-centered course* you will build a modern computer system, from the ground up. We’ll divide this fascinating journey into six hands-on projects that will take you from constructing elementary logic gates all the way through creating a fully functioning general purpose computer. In the process, you will learn - in the most direct and constructive way - how computers work, and how they are designed. What you’ll need: This is a self-contained course: all the knowledge necessary to succeed in the course and build the computer system will be given as part of the learning experience. Therefore, we assume no previous computer science or engineering knowledge, and all learners are welcome aboard. You will need no physical materials, since you will build the computer on your own PC, using a software-based hardware simulator, just like real computers are designed by computer engineers in the field. The hardware simulator, as well as other software tools, will be supplied freely after you enroll in the course. Course format: The course consists of six modules, each comprising a series of video lectures, and a project. You will need about 2-3 hours to watch each module's lectures, and about 5-10 hours to complete each one of the six projects. The course can be completed in six weeks, but you are welcome to take it at your own pace. You can watch a TED talk about this course by Googling "nand2tetris TED talk". *About Project-Centered Courses: Project-centered courses are designed to help you complete a personally meaningful real-world project, with your instructor and a community of learners with similar goals providing guidance and suggestions along the way. By actively applying new concepts as you learn, you’ll master the course content more efficiently; you’ll also get a head start on using the skills you gain to make positive changes in your life and career. When you complete the course, you’ll have a finished project that you’ll be proud to use and share....

Top reviews

MM
Feb 17, 2017

An excellent course provided by phenomenal professors! Everything is broken down into simple, easily understandable portions, and leaves you with a clear idea how to proceed to solve a given problem.

CT
Aug 22, 2020

This was so much fun, so satisfying and I learned a lot. I'm a software engineer. We do so much work in high-level languages that it's great to be reminded how computing machinery gets the job done.

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51 - 75 of 765 Reviews for Build a Modern Computer from First Principles: From Nand to Tetris (Project-Centered Course)

By Apar B

Jan 9, 2018

I would highly recommend this course for anyone interested in any level of abstraction between Computer Architecture to Logic gates. I would highly recommend it to senior undergrad or first-year Masters Computer Science/Engineering students. Being a Masters student of Computer Engineering, I loved this course. The only problem is that we cannot use any industrial HDL (like Verilog) for most of the projects. The syntax for the HDL was a nightmare, especially the sub-bus parts. However, any programming language may be used to build the last project, Assembler. I did it in C++.

By Samuel P K

Mar 18, 2020

Excellent course! I have an undergrad degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and I still feel that I got a lot out of it. It was a great refresher on what goes into making a computer. I took a similar course to this one in college. My college course was a bit more technical but it didn't cover as much breadth or do nearly as good a job of making the connections between the layers of abstraction. I preferred this one much more. I especially appreciated the perspective section at the end of each unit. It always tied a lot together and answered any lingering questions.

By Shriharsh M

Oct 21, 2018

Thoroughly enjoyed learning how a computer and its hardware parts are built. The course content is very close to reality and one gets to develop a computer from Nand gates. This might sound outlandish but the beauty of this course is that it shows how a complex concept can be explained with sufficient details using hardware simulation. Of course a lot of details are ignored about the hardware world and focusing on such nitty-gritty isn't needed. Thanks Shimon and Noam for building this course! I recommend this course to everyone who works on software or hardware.

By Joseph B

Jan 7, 2017

By constructing a computer from its foundational components, this course demystifies how computers work. You gain insight into how your code is executed by the CPU, how the CPU manipulates memory, even how it works with additional hardware components such as your monitor and keyboard. After going through the first part of the course, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how the code you write runs on hardware. If you are the curious sort and enjoy peeling back layers in order to figure out how things work, you should definitely go through this course.

By Akshat A

Jul 11, 2020

Fantastic course. We build up a computer, starting from the NAND gate as the smallest unit, and building all further logic gates, computational units, storage units, input-output devices present in a basic computer. We learn to write assembly language, build hardware which runs on machine language (0s and 1s), and finally finish by writing an assembler to convert the assembly language into machine language.

The assignments are hands-on through the use of multiple simulators which are pretty easy to work with, and I learned a lot through this course.

By Ali A

Nov 18, 2016

I love this course, I think it's one of the best I did in the past few years, most of the content are material that I read over twenty years ago, but the style and projects in this course bring the subject to another level.

The course is fun, and by the end of it I had a working virtual computer from the components I built, running machine code from the assembler I wrote. The course is fun, it's clear, simple to follow, and the instructor are great.

The truth is I felt a little sad that the course ended :). Looking forward for the second part of it.

By Tim S

May 13, 2018

This was a fantastic learning opportunity, even as someone with a degree in computer science and many years experience as a professional in the field. I loved the way this course taught from first principles and encouraged you to think about the abstraction layers behind a computer system. While the chip and assembler created here are somewhat primitive, the course leaves you understanding the principles behind more sophisticated hardware. Huge credit to the team for the thoughtful exercises: they caught me out repeatedly!

By Heiko M

Jan 10, 2017

Just the course I always wanted to take. I've been working for some 5 years in IT as a programmer with a background in mathematics. Since my education in university did not cover the low level details of how things really work deep down, I was always befuddled by the mystery of computers. This course helped to clear things out for me! There is a bit less mystery to it now, but even more admiration. Thank you very much Noam and Shimon for making things so accessible. I am looking forward to building a compiler in part II!

By Cheryl

Oct 13, 2019

Great course that teaches you the basics of the technology from which computers are built. The instructors carefully walk you through the concepts such that the problems feel relatively easy and simple compared to some other courses. If you like challenges, you might not like this approach, but I think it's appropriate for this course (as an introductory course) so that you can pick up the main points and not get frustrated from getting stuck on problems you don't have sufficient knowledge/experience to handle.

By Himanshu T

Jan 1, 2017

I am eternally grateful for everything you both faculty Shimon Schocken, Noam Nisan taught me.Really before the commencement of course I was thinking that this course will be boring.But after I started watching videos, the ultimate guidance and effort done by all the members of this course inspired me a lot.The course content is awesome. I am very happy that I build the computer. It was really amazing experience.Once again millions of thanks to teaching and non teaching staff.

Thank You

Himanshu Tiwari

By Vishal

Oct 5, 2018

This introductory course to computer architecture is just excellent.

It gives you a clean overview of the hardware and software architecture of a computer (albeit, a simple one). Everything you need is provided to you, the content (given in multiple forms) is clear and concise, the exercises give you just enough challenge to enjoy the reward of completing them. It just hits the mark between complexity, understanding and entertainment.

Thousand thanks to the professors/authors for giving this course!

By Sana D

Apr 2, 2017

This is a brilliant course for those who want to learn how computers really work. It takes a bottom up approach to build a computer all the way from logic gates to the CPU and the complete architecture. You get a tremendous sense of satisfaction running a program on a computer that you built.

This course is especially useful for people interested in working in computer architecture or systems, but I would recommend it for everyone studying or working in computer science and engineering.

By Thassilo H

Apr 19, 2016

This is one of the best CS courses I've taken so far. It's great to see how easy it is to build a simple yet powerful computer on your own, and it has given me for the first time the feeling of really understanding what's going on at the low level.

The complete course is centered about the project of building a computer, so there are no quizzes and only few theoretical background lectures here. If you want a hands-on introduction to computer engineering, this is the way to go.

By Nidal F

Mar 30, 2020

I think this is the greatest course ever!

Now, I can understand how the hardware layers play that divine role in our computers!

I've understood how machine languages are designed with the hardware, and a lot more!

Maybe the best thing this course introduces is: You conquer new obstacles every week which are totally new knowledge to you = you gain a lot of self confidence as well as this inner feeling that you are born to do something GREAT!

Can't wait to start the 2nd part!

By Mandava K K

Oct 25, 2020

I really appreciate this course as one of the best in my life. I am familiar with programming and various specializations of computer science and engineering along with information technology, but still, have a lack of knowledge on how computers are built, with practical sense. This course did take me through some interesting concepts which can be learned with hands-on experience. I admire the Professors for their hard work and dedication to offer us such a great course

By Philip O

Jul 28, 2020

This course was challenging. The project-oriented nature of the class is what made it interesting for me. I spent a few days learning Java (nothing like having a challenge to motivate me) so I could write the assembler, rather than just "translate by hand" assembly code. This helped solidify the connection between hardware and software by making me really think about what happens to all the bits in those A, C and L commands. I look forward to part 2 of the course.

By Aye A M

Mar 17, 2016

Simply awesome. By no means does this course teach you everything about building a computer but it introduces you to the subject better than any other course that I have ever come across. It gives a voluminous amount of detail about low-level computing but the instructors took great pains to do so in a very accessible and easy manner. Thereby, the magic of low-level computing is made available for everyone regardless of who they are. Beautiful.

By Savva

Aug 11, 2020

cool and understandable, however the heart of computer –– Data Flip-Flop –– I think is must to be explained. Without it, I couldn't get fundamentals, for which we're here. If you aren't going to lie for yourself, please spend time, it's one of the most important thing that runs computer. After really understanding this, the feeling of the computer system's greatness will hold you quite enough time.

But many-many thanks. The course is awesome.

By Akhil K

Aug 16, 2017

I think this course is very well made from the ground up. Although it might be difficult for starters in the beginning, what you end up in the end is a computer that you could program anything on, which is very cool. This is a great course for starting out in the world of Computer Science, and is something different compared to other Programming 101 or Computer Science 101 courses. I would love to see how the second part of the course holds!

By Ahmed m i e

Jul 8, 2020

I built my own computer and I really enjoyed it.

They calculated every thing for you, you only need to put your hdl files through their suit programs

and every thing is going to be okay.

Project by project you will feel that you now now more about computers.

I learnt Asm language, Computer Architecture, logic gates ,machine language , sequential logic and Combinational logic gates .

I'm really glad that I had the chance to take that course

By Raghav T

May 23, 2020

Honestly, Nand to Tetris is not just a course, it's a beautiful journey. Like a beautifully made game, it assumes nothing about the learner, teaches them the wise ways of playing the game, and delicately guides the player through an infinite world, never making it seem for once that you have no direction. I made my final submission with a heavy heart, but definitely look forward to embarking on this journey again with the second part.

By diwakar b

Aug 1, 2020

the best course for people who are interested in learning how computers work and their inner most workings. I wont lie and say that it is easy at the end since i took programming approach and completed the course but it was exciting,intersting and felt so damn good when i completed the course. I will complete the part two of this course as well. I can't recommend this course enough just go for it; it is worth the struggle.

By Eric B

Oct 13, 2020

Thank you for this amazing course, you two gentlemen are incredible teachers. The material is well organized, engaging and super challenging. I work with such high level languages and software nowadays that it was quite a challenge to dig deep to the essence of it all.. zeros and ones. I remember seeing some of it in school about 25 years ago but actually coding it for real was so satisfying! Looking forward to part 2 :)

By Ryan M

Jan 19, 2018

I am a programmer without a background in computer science and the closest I have gotten to the machine has been compiled languages like Java. Because of this, everything that happened below the language I was using was a complete mystery and black box. This course clearly and concisely led me through all the steps of computing that were previously completely opaque to me. I cannot recommend this course enough. Cheers!

By Enzo d B F

Feb 26, 2016

The course is fantastic. The teachers are both very good at explaining the concepts and the project assignments. The experience of building a computer from basic logic gates is enlightening and the course material is very good and straightforward. I also bought their book (The Elements of Computing Systems) which is also very good and I recommend. It's a very rewarding experience. We really learn how computers *work*.