Algorithms & Data Structures MicroMasters
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 29 January 2018

The first course in a new MicroMasters program on the edX platform starts on February 1st. To gain the credential, which comprises eight courses, will take twelve months and counts towards a Masters degree from the University of Rochester. 


The blurb for the Algorithms & Data Structures states:

This MicroMasters program is a mix of theory and practice: you will learn algorithmic techniques for solving various computational problems through implementing over one hundred algorithmic coding problems in a programming language of your choice.

No other online course in Algorithms even comes close to offering you a wealth of programming challenges that you may face at your next job interview. To prepare you, we have invested thousands of hours designing challenges as an alternative to multiple choice questions that you usually find in MOOCs. We believe in learning through application, especially when it comes to learning algorithms.

For each algorithm you develop and implement, we have designed multiple tests to check its correctness and running time — you will have to debug your programs without even knowing what these tests are! It may sound difficult, but we believe it is the only way to truly understand how the algorithms work and to master the art of programming.

Each taught course in the program lasts for between 3 and 7 weeks and the sequence is as follows:

Algorithmic Design and Techniques

Data Structures 

Graph Algorithms

NP-Complete Problems

String Processing and Pattern Matching Algorithms

Dynamic Programming: Applications In Machine Learning and Genomics

Graph Algorithms in Genome Sequencing

This leads up to the Algorithms and Data Structures Capstone which is described as a "big data challenge" that cover the entire MicroMasters program.

The course comes from the University of California San Diego and its material has a lot in common with the Coursera Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization, which we reported on when it was introduced in March 2016. The Coursera version consists of five courses each 4-5 weeks in length, which restart at regular intervals to accommodate new cohorts of students, followed by its Genome Assembly Programming Challenge as the capstone. Its first course, Algorithmic Toolbox appears to be very similar in content to Algorithmic Design and Techniques on edX with both variants having the same line up of instructors. 

Starting on February 1st and lasting 6 week with 8-10 hours effort per week, the edX version covers:

  • Essential algorithmic techniques - greedy algorithms, divide and conquer, binary search, sorting, dynamic programming

  • Best practices of implementing algorithms efficiently

Ways of testing and debugging programsalgomicromastsqOne difference between the two platforms is that on edX students who don't want a certificate and choose the free option still have access to all the study material including programming challenges whereas on Coursera coding assignments are not available to those who only audit the course for free. 

If you do want the edX MicroMaster's credential you can benefit from a 10% discount ($1080 USD rather than the $1200 of paying $150 for each separately) by paying for the entire program in advance. As well as being recognized by industry, if a learner applies for admission to the  School of Individualized Study (SOIC) Master of Science in Professional Studies program at Rochester Institute of Technology, and is accepted, it will count towards 25% of the coursework required by this program.

More Information

Algorithms & Data Structures Micro Masters 

Coursera Data Structures and Algorithms Specialization

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 June 2018 )