Learning Algorithms Through Programming and Puzzle Solving (The book)
Learning Algorithms Through Programming and Puzzle Solving
About the Book
I find that I don’t understand things unless I try to program them.
—Donald E. Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 4
There are many excellent books on Algorithms — why in the world we would write another one??? Because we feel that while these books excel in introducing algorithmic ideas, they have not yet succeeded in teaching you how to implement algorithms, the crucial computer science skill.
Our goal is to develop an Intelligent Tutoring System for learning algorithms through programming that can compete with the best professors in a traditional classroom. This MOOC book is the first step towards this goal written specifically for our Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) forming a specialization “Algorithms and Data Structures” on Coursera platform and a microMasters program on edX platform. Since the launch of our MOOCs in 2016, hundreds of thousands students enrolled in this specialization and tried to solve more than hundred algorithmic programming challenges to pass it. And some of them even got offers from small companies like Google after completing our specialization!
In the last few years, some professors expressed concerns about the pedagogical quality of MOOCs and even called them the “junk food of ed- ucation.” In contrast, we are among the growing group of professors who believe that traditional classes, that pack hundreds of students in a single classroom, represent junk food of education. In a large classroom, once a student takes a wrong turn, there are limited opportunities to ask a question, resulting in a learning breakdown, or the inability to progress further without individual guidance. Furthermore, the majority of time a student invests in an Algorithms course is spent completing assignments outside the classroom. That is why we stopped giving lectures in our offline classes (and we haven’t got fired yet :-). Instead, we give flipped classes where students watch our recorded lectures, solve algorithmic puzzles, complete programming challenges using our automated homework checking system before the class, and come to class prepared to discuss their learning breakdowns with us.
When a student suffers a learning breakdown, that student needs immediate help in order to proceed. Traditional textbooks do not provide such help, but our automated grading system described in this MOOC book does! Algorithms is a unique discipline in that students’ ability to program provides the opportunity to automatically check their knowledge through coding challenges. These coding challenges are far superior to traditional quizzes that barely check whether a student fell asleep. Indeed, to implement a complex algorithm, the student must possess a deep understanding of its underlying algorithmic ideas.
We believe that a large portion of grading in thousands of Algorithms courses taught at various universities each year can be consolidated into a single automated system available at all universities. It did not escape our attention that many professors teaching algorithms have implemented their own custom-made systems for grading student programs, an illustration of academic inefficiency and lack of cooperation between various instructors. Our goal is to build a repository of algorithmic programming challenges, thus allowing professors to focus on teaching. We have already invested thousands of hours into building such a system and thousands students in our MOOCs tested it. Below we briefly describe how it works.
When you face a programming challenge, your goal is to implement a fast and memory-efficient algorithm for its solution. Solving programming challenges will help you better understand various algorithms and may even land you a job since many high-tech companies ask applicants to solve programming challenges during the interviews. Your implementation will be checked automatically against many carefully selected tests to verify that it always produces a correct answer and fits into the time and memory constrains. Our system will teach you to write programs that work correctly on all of our test datasets rather than on some of them. This is an important skill since failing to thoroughly test your programs leads to undetected bugs that frustrate your boss, your colleagues, and, most importantly, users of your programs.
You maybe wondering why it took thousands of hours to develop such a system. First, we had to build a Compendium of Learning Breakdowns for each programming challenge, 10–15 most frequent errors that students make while solving it. Afterwards, we had to develop test cases for each learning breakdown in each programming challenge, over 20 000 test cases for just 100 programming challenges in our specialization.
We encourage you to sign up for our Algorithms and Data Structures specialization on Coursera or MicroMasters program on edX and start interacting with thousands of talented students from around the world who are learning algorithms. Thank you for joining us!
The Leanpub 45-day 100% Happiness Guarantee
Within 45 days of purchase you can get a 100% refund on any Leanpub purchase, in two clicks.
See full terms
Free Updates. DRM Free.
If you buy a Leanpub book, you get free updates for as long as the author updates the book! Many authors use Leanpub to publish their books in-progress, while they are writing them. All readers get free updates, regardless of when they bought the book or how much they paid (including free).
Most Leanpub books are available in PDF (for computers), EPUB (for phones and tablets) and MOBI (for Kindle). The formats that a book includes are shown at the top right corner of this page.
Finally, Leanpub books don't have any DRM copy-protection nonsense, so you can easily read them on any supported device.
El Manual del ManagerKeyvan Akbary, Félix López, and Álvaro Salazar
¿Has deseado alguna vez el haber tenido una buena introducción al rol del Engineering Manager? En este libro aprenderás lo necesario para ejercer el rol de una manera efectiva: Expectativas y Responsabilidades del Rol, 1-1s, Ayudar a Crecer, Objetivos, Planes de Carrera, Cultura, Feedback, Contratación, Cultura de Producto y mucho más.
Functional Design and ArchitectureAlexander Granin
Software Design in Functional Programming, Design Patterns and Practices, Methodologies and Application Architectures. How to build real software in Haskell with less efforts and low risks. The first complete source of knowledge.
Ansible for KubernetesJeff Geerling
Ansible is a powerful infrastructure automation tool. Kubernetes is a powerful application deployment platform. Learn how to use these tools to automate massively-scalable, highly-available infrastructure.
Practical FP in Scala: A hands-on approachGabriel Volpe
A practical book aimed for those familiar with functional programming in Scala who are yet not confident about architecting an application from scratch.
Together, we will develop a purely functional application using the best libraries in the Cats ecosystem, while learning about design patterns and best practices.
Ansible for DevOpsJeff Geerling
Ansible is a simple, but powerful, server and configuration management tool. Learn to use Ansible effectively, whether you manage one server—or thousands.
Tame your Work FlowSteve Tendon and Daniel Doiron
Do you need a high performance enterprise governance approach improving management, execution and delivery while dealing with multiple projects/products, events, stakeholders and teams? Giving you better bottom line results, faster time to market, less work, better predictability, happier employees, and delighted clients? Then learn about TameFlow!
Production HaskellMatt Parsons
Are you excited about Haskell, but don't know where to begin? Are you thrilled by the technical advantages, but worried about the unknown pitfalls? This book has you covered.
C++ Best PracticesJason Turner
Level up your C++, get the tools working for you, eliminate common problems, and move on to more exciting things!
Cloud StrategyGregor Hohpe
“Strategy is the difference between making a wish and making it come true.” A successful migration to the cloud shouldn’t be driven by wishes, but guided by a sound strategy, frameworks, and decision models. This book tells you how—without becoming superficial nor getting lost in technology and product details.
Composing SoftwareEric Elliott
All software design is composition: the act of breaking complex problems down into smaller problems and composing those solutions. Most developers have a limited understanding of compositional techniques. It's time for that to change.
11 BooksThe Quality Software Bundle is for managers, would-be managers, and any of us who find themselves being managed and confused. This comprehensive bundle covers the entire span of software development approaches, from hacking through waterfall, cascade, prototyping, Iterative enhancement, reusable code, off-the-shelf, to Agile teams. The bundle...
The Node.js Bundle
3 BooksThis bundle combines three bestselling Leanpub Node.js books into a package that gives you everything you need to get started with developing Node.js applications at an unbeatable price.
The Tester's Library
8 BooksThe Tester's Library consists of eight five-star books that every software tester should read and re-read. As bound books, this collection would cost over $200. Even as e-books, their price would exceed $80, but in this bundle, their cost is only $49.99. Here are the books, and why they should be in your library: Perfect Software and Other...
11 BooksIn this bundle, you will find 10 different agile books. They are about different aspects of being agile. - finding a job - doing coding dojo's - Retrospectives - Personal kanban - a non-typical coaching book and even a book that gives you an insight in the lives of some agile people.
WTFlop 6M + HU - Beta Bundle
Marionette.js A to Z
Complete Scala Bundle
3 BooksScala is a general-purpose programming language and it's getting extremely popular these days. Some say that learning Scala could be a challenging task. My experience, however, suggests that this is actually a myth that has very little to do with reality. With the right approach, learning Scala can be easy, fun and rewarding.The first book from...
Build A Better Backbone App
3 BooksThe best way to learn new development skills is through experience, but that takes time you don't have.Get the best of both worlds with this bundle: you'll learn how to produce modern web applications by learning from experienced developers like Derick Bailey and David Sulc. BackboneJS is one of the favorite tools on the web today, but it...
People Skills—Soft but Difficult
7 BooksPerhaps you've been told that "lack of people skills" has been holding you back. No wonder: you may have had hundreds of hours of technical training, but little or no "people skills" guidance.You've heard it said that people skills are "soft," whereas technical skills are "hard." For you, though, technical skills are "easy," but people skills...
SurviveJS - Webpack + React
2 BooksGet both SurviveJS - Webpack and SurviveJS - React for a single price!