Data structures and algorithms - Coursera - any reviews?


I was wondering whether anyone had tried this Data Structures and Algorithms specialization (or a course from this spec)?

@1Pxt, do you have an opinion? I know you’ve recommended Kahn Academy but I don’t know why, it’s just not my style. ( Whatever that means).

Hi timotheap,
I tried a course or two from the specialization series and I must say, its quite condensed. The thing about Data Structures and Algorithms is, its not for people who have just begun programming, if you fall within that category, you might wanna stay away from it and come back when you feel you are ready.

All said, why not sample a course from the series and see if its a fit for you. It’s quite a detailed course if you ask me. just not for beginners.

Thank you - it’s exactly what I was wondering about.

I’ve seen that specialization on Coursera but haven’t taken any of the courses in it so I can’t speak for any of them. However, I can recommend this other specialization on Coursera (also from UC San Diego, but with different faculty) that also covers data structures & algorithms: I’ve taken the first 4 courses in this specialization and highly recommend all of them.

If that specialization isn’t introductory enough for you (it’s more intermediate and assumes some experience with programming and Java), there’s another one on Coursera that may be more beginner-friendly:

Or you could use Udacity which has a variety of free courses on programming if you’re looking for a beginner course to get started, like one of these:

There’s also this one on edX (which I haven’t taken but looks good):

Thank you for the links. [quote=“astv99, post:4, topic:61987”]
this other specialization on Coursera (also from UC San Diego, but with different faculty) that also covers data structures & algorithms:

For some reason I’ve been eyeing this one for that past week - something in the description sounds appealing but it’s in Java. It’s not supposed to make a difference as I should be able to transpose in JS but I think it could be an added difficulty.

hmmm. I’m on the right tracks though!

Java is a great language to learn if you don’t know it already—very prevalent in the industry, and you can use it for server-side programming too, plus it’s the de facto language for Android development. Much more formalized and structured than JavaScript, and is object-oriented through and through (while JS isn’t). And it’s always a good idea to expand your skillset beyond just JS, especially if you’re looking to get a job in the software industry. Java is a great jumping-off point for the languages it syntactically inherits from (C and C++), or other languages that borrow the JVM but do something different like being functional instead of imperative (Scala).


thanks a lot for taking the time ! and sorry I mixed up your name… I’ll get back to those courses later on - I had already bookmarked the Princeton one for myself. I’ll take a better look at the Khan Academy, it’s probably just a matter of pushing a bit more to feel ok with it and anyway it sounds more realistic given my no-level. So much to learn, and not enough time! I wish days were longer.

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Noted ! I’ll see if I can squeeze in Khan Academy in all the rest.

It’s my own opinion, but outside of a few exceptions, I dislike a lot of the courses offered on Coursera.
It’s not that they lack information, but the way the present information most of the time doesn’t gel for me.

If you want to learn Algorithms and have virtually no knowledge/experience as I did, I would suggest the following order that I wish I had done:

  1. Khan Academy
    this is great for a ‘get your feet wet’ introduction to thinking about algorithm’s without that
    ’im too dumb for this’ feeling alot of other lower level resource make feel(I’m looking at you Cormin)
  2. CS50 – harvard via EdX
    The guy that teaches this course is entertaining, passionate and very, very smart.
    This isn’t just algorithms but computing/technology/programming/algorithm knowledge in general.
    It’s not as ‘technical’ or dry as the below resource but has a little more ‘substance’ than the KA
    resource above but that’s my opinion. This one is the most engaging/easiest to digest
    IMO but also not as ‘knowledge deep’ as Cormen’s book, which no one can honestly recommend enough.
    If Kyle Simpsons YDKJS Books is the standard for learning JS
    on a deep level, then Cormen’s book below is the standard for learning algorithms.
  3. Intro to Algorithm’s: Cormen et al.
    Do you want to be a programmer ?
    If you do, idc what language, or niche you want to get into, read this book. It sucks, it’s dry, it’s confusing and you’ll have to reread several passages if your like me, but this book is essentially MANDATORY, even if you just want to do ‘Front End stuff’.
    This can be had for free via pdf, if you do some googling, even if it wasn’t free, it would be worth every penny.

Good Luck.


Thanks a lot for your feedback !

I’ve done two small courses on Coursera and I was really quite happy with it - but I wanted to get an overview of what was going on, you know, getting to know the little green thing inside my computer talking to other computers.

It was also structured and a really good introduction (to me!). And it will sound silly but something I miss now that I’ve moved to other courses is the transcription below the video. You can click on any sentence and it takes you to right place in the video. I’ve saved so much time doing that - you can quickly scan the text for the real information. And it is very convenient when you want to get back to a piece of information later.

And now I’ll just send a note to Kyle Simpson to see if he can do his version of Cormen.

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Thank you for sharing an informative post.

and why you recommended san diego course about java
what did you learn from it please

Their whole specialization goes into fairly good depth on data structures & algorithms using Java—not as good as a textbook, but good enough for general learning purposes.