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What will I be able to do upon completing the Specialization?
You will be able to apply the right algorithms and data structures in your day-to-day work and write programs that work in some cases many orders of magnitude faster. You'll be able to solve algorithmic problems like those used in the technical interviews at Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yandex, etc. If you do data science, you'll be able to significantly increase the speed of some of your experiments. You'll also have a completed Capstone either in Bioinformatics or in the Shortest Paths in Road Networks and Social Networks that you can demonstrate to potential employers.
What background knowledge is necessary?
We expect you to be able to implement programs that: 1) read data from the standard input (in most cases, the input is a sequence of integers); 2) compute the result (in most cases, a few loops are enough for this); 3) print the result to the standard output. For each programming challenge in this course, we provide starter solutions in C++, Java, and Python. The best way to check whether your programming skills are enough to go through problems in this specialization is to solve two problems from the first week. If you are able to pass them (after reading our tutorials), then you will definitely be able to pass the course.
2. Basic knowledge of discrete mathematics: proof by induction, proof by contradiction.
Knowledge of discrete mathematics is necessary for analyzing algorithms (proving correctness, estimating running time) and for algorithmic thinking in general. If you want to refresh your discrete mathematics skills, we encourage you to go through our partner specialization — Introduction to Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science (https://www.coursera.org/specializations/discrete-mathematics). It teaches the basics of discrete mathematics in try-this-before-we-explain-everything approach: you will be solving many interactive puzzles that were carefully designed to allow you to invent many of the important ideas and concepts yoursel
What is the difference between this course and other courses covering algorithms?
We believe that learning the theory behind algorithms (like in most Algorithms 101 courses taught at 1000s universities) is important but not sufficient for a professional computer scientist today. This specialization combines the theory of algorithms with many programming challenges. In contrast with many Algorithms 101 courses, you will implement over 100 algorithmic problems in the programming language of your choice. And you will see yourself that the best way to understand an algorithm is to implement it!
Time to completion can vary based on your schedule, but most learners are able to complete the Specialization in 6-8 months.
Each course in the Specialization is offered on a regular schedule, with sessions starting about once per month. If you don't complete a course on the first try, you can easily transfer to the next session, and your completed work and grades will carry over.
Do I need to take the courses in a specific order?
We recommend taking the courses in the order presented, as each subsequent course will build on material from previous courses.
Do I need to buy a textbook for this specialization?
The lectures in this specialization will be self-contained. Most lectures will be based on the bestselling textbook "Algorithms" co-authored by Sanjoy Dasgupta from University of California at San Diego as well as Christos Papadimitriou and Umesh Vazirani from University of California at Berkeley. In addition to UCSD and Berkeley, the textbook has been adopted in over 100 top universities and is available on Internet.