Grab A Stanford Computer Science Education

There are two reasons to go to school: learn about something and to get a coveted piece of paper that helps you get jobs, or at least, job interviews. With so many schools putting material online, you can do the first part without spending much money as long as you don’t expect the school to help you or grant you that piece of paper. Stanford has a huge computer science department and [Rui Ma] cataloged over 150 computer science classes available online in some form from the University. Just the thing to while away time during the quarantine.

Apparently, [Rui] grabbed the 2020 course catalog to find on-campus classes and found the companion website for each class, organizing them for our benefit. The list doesn’t include the actual online class offerings, which you can find directly from Stanford, although there is another list for that.

There are basic classes like CS103, Mathematical Foundations of Computing, that are important to know before attempting some of the upper-level classes. Systems classes range from CS1U on Practical Unix to CS149 and CS315B which cover parallel computing.

If you want to learn more about the theory behind why your LED blink algorithm scales poorly, there’s CS254, Computational Complexity. Machine learning is in vogue right now, and there are plenty of options including CS20, Tensorflow for Deep Learning Research.

There’s more, but we’ll let you read the list. Phone programming, robots, video games, and biocomputing are all on the menu. There are even a few classes on things like personal finance for engineers, ethics, and computer music.

To be fair, not all of these classes are easy to digest on their own. Some of them are supporting material and you really need the professor’s lectures. However, for some classes like CS106L (Standard C++ Programming) you’ll find complete sets of lecture notes and some classes even have video lectures, like the one below from CS224N, Natural Language Processing with Deep Learning.

We were glad [Rui] put together this list. Of course, if you are grabbing university content for self-study, you don’t have to get everything from one place. If you want a very practical education, the Navy’s materials are another source.

18 thoughts on “Grab A Stanford Computer Science Education

    1. Sure. The education may cost you nothing. But, the right to put “BSEE” on your resume will set you back a quarter million or whatever it is these days. I do wonder how this will all shake out over the next couple decades.

        1. Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and/or Computer Science. The actual degree possibly indicates somewhat more than just watching Youtube for four years. But, I’ve hired engineers who would have been better off watching 4 years of amusing cat videos and saved themselves some money.

      1. I think it’s awesome that these Universities do these kind of things. I already have a BScs. But received it 20+ years ago. The basis I got then, got me this far. But in the mean time, I forgot many details because I never use them in my daily life, and also mathematical science strode forward in that time. I could go back to university to learn that stuff and get a new BS or maybe an MS. But the title not going to help me much in my career anymore. But the *knowledge* will. Even if 80% or so is just reviving some my old forgotten knowledge. It would be nice to also get the title, but it wouldn’t be much more than an egoboost. :)

          1. Message loud and clear as it is!!!!

            Knowledge is key to success.
            With your +20 years experience I doubt a piece of paper might help more.
            Your performance with all newly acquired//refreshed knowledge will give you the edge.

      2. Studies generally show a ridiculous amount of outright lies on resumes anyway, why not just award yourself it after completing all the coursework. So long as you don’t say it’s from an accredited university, it’s not a complete lie.
        BSEE, coursework completed from Stanford…?

    1. @Umit, I would love to have sent this link to a friend of mine interested in CS, however, the course starts today and she would not have time to get things ready. I will forward the link to her for future reference. Thanks for the heads up.

  1. It takes a lot more than just reading lecture notes to learn CS. It is not copy pasta of some Arduino scripts, watch some videos and call it a day. You have to throw yourself to do the actual problem solving, learning and programming work while having the self discipline to do it without the pressure of multiple deadlines is hard.

  2. The big difference I have noticed, when my early 80s education is compared to 2020s curricula, is that theory of computation is formalized and extensive and less condensed than the two semester course for data structures and algorithms.

    And the big difference I have found from an on-line self-taught vs a ‘formal’ education is proofs and the required mathematics. People commonly say that you will never use that stuff after college. Perhaps for some, but I have never had a job that did not require my use some elements of differential calculus or discrete math.

    And FWIW, I think CS should be a three-year degree. But as most American high schools are fails, many kids spend their initial two or three semesters of college learning basic stuff that should not even be offered at a four-year university.

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