Introduction to Statistics – Your Access Pass to the Udacity Artificial Intelligence Track
Written by Jacqueline Spiegel   
Thursday, 21 June 2012

Introduction to Statistics - Making Decisions based on Data is one of five new courses from Udacity that start next week and is designed to complement any subject that requires analysis and manipulation of data, including machine learning and AI.

Udacity will begin its third hexamester (there are six seven-week semesters per year) on June 25, 2012 and with it will open the latest free MOOC offering taught by Google Vice President and Udacity founder, Sebastian Thrun, “Introduction to Statistics - Making Decisions Based on Data” (ST101).




Unlike many of the classes offered thus far at Udacity, ST101 is an entry level class, and it is designed to serve as an introduction to any subject that requires the analysis and manipulation of data, including Udacity's own AI classes (yes there is a plural there), and as such the expectation is that enrollment is going to swell to a class size larger than the original AI Class of 160,000. Independent statistics tutors are available online to help with learning the material.

Intro to Statistic’s goal will be to help the student “understand data, and make decisions based on data”. It will be taught with an eye toward the student who has a vested or budding interest in, but not limited to, computer, physical, medical, social science, technology, economics or finance and serve as an entry level class for many of the current Udacity classes. This short video gives an overview of what to expect:



Click on the banner to enrol now:



Intro to Statistics is an exciting offering for Udacity, since it directly supports its founder’s AI roots:

“Statistics you can think of as the entry level version of Machine Learning, and it might be that Machine Learning is the next class that I offer", Sebastian Thrun tantalizingly hints.



When asked what other classes ST101 supports, he reveals:

“Certainly Intro to AI, which will be online soon again, and CS373 Building a Robotic Car”.

So it seems, between ST101 and CS101, the Udacity AI track begins emerge:


Intro to Statistics

CS 101
Intro to CS


Intro to AI

“online again soon”

Machine Learning

“which we hope to have in 2 months.”

CS 373

Robotic Car



How introductory level is Intro to Statistics? According to Prof Thrun:  "After I made a challenging graduate level AI class (CS373) I am now making a really easy class (STAT 101)."  one that will open doors to all and give unparalleled access to Computer Science generally, and Artificial Intelligence specifically. 

In fact, many High School students from all over the world have been invited to participate (they even have their own contest that will win them a trip to Udacity and a possible driverless ride!– wish I were 16!).

But in case you are older than 18 or work or vacation looms ahead and you are not certain you can make the commitment – there are no worries - you can take as long as you need to finish the course content, there are no hard deadlines in Udacity. For Premiere classes, such as Intro to Statistics, for midterms and finals you are given one generous week to complete the exams before the solutions are posted. For those who will be working towards their credentials, the exams will be given through Pearson VUE, and it will not be the same exam as the one is offered online.

Udacity is coming very close to reaching one of its main goals – being the first Open Ed University to offer an entire computer science degree online. When the new “hexamester” opens, on June 25, its partnership with Pearson VUE will almost certainly be in place. With test locations in 165 countries, Udacity student’s worldwide will have the ability to get credit for the online courses they are taking - and the Computer Science Udacity degree will be within months of accomplishment.

But in the meantime, I am here to tell you not to miss some of the special Udacity offerings. The other exciting new course offerings this semester are:

  • Software Testing: How to make it Fail
  • Algorithms: Crunching Social Networks
  • Intro to Physics: Landmarks in Physics
  • Logic & Discrete Mathematics: Foundations of Computing

But it was Peter Norvig’s class last hexamester (who is the current Director of Research at Google), CS212: Design of Computer Programs, that prompted student Dario Iacampo, who hails from Italy, to exclaim

“CS-212 by Peter Norvig is a damn masterpiece! I feel like Alice in Wonderland. Buckle you seatbelt Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye-bye!”

All Udacity courses. including CS212 are available. So sign up now for Intro to Statistics or to another free online class and join thousands of eager students of all ages and from all over the world when the new hexamester begins, June 25.

Click on image to go to Udacity:


More Information


Introduction to Statistics (ST101)

To join the student Intro to Statistics Facebook Group:

If you are a woman taking this class, or any other online STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) class, consider joining CompScisters Facebook Group:

The CompSciblings Facebook Group, for men and women is at

Related Articles

On Statistics and Open Education: A Brief Chat with Sebastian Thrun

Udacity Announces Certification Option

Stanford AI Class - Mid Term Report

Get your AI certificate online and for free





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