Udacity - Intro To Computer Science by David Evans

David EvansThis is one of the beginner level courses being offered in Udacity. It aims to teach you Python while simultaneously building a search engine. It was initially a 7 week course when I had taken it, but now has expanded to teach more Python concepts as they try to keep up with edX's 6.00x and Coursera's Learn To Programming courses.

The course spans 11 lessons and gives the freedom of self-study to users. An experienced Python coder can finish the course in 11 hours while the newbies might take much longer, this flexibility is Udacity's USP and is what separates it from Coursera, edX and other similar MOOC sites. I have highlighted these in the Coursera vs Udacity post of mine. There are also in-video quizzes which are pretty effective in helping you clear your concepts. The Problem Sets and Office Hours sections are where the tougher problems and their solutions are discussed in details. The main contents covered are -
  • Basics of Python - How to extract a link
  • Conditional Statements and Loops - Extracting all links from a page.
  • Lists - Crawling the web
  • Complex Data Structures - Searching with indexes
  • Dictionary and Hash tables - Cost of searching
  • Recursive functions - Ranking search results
  • Past, Present and Future of Computing - Interview and Tours of notable places.
  • Tips on learning more programming concepts
  • Modules, Types and Classes
  • Inheritance
  • File and I/O operations 
There is a final exam scheduled after Lesson 7 with different levels of mastery which will test your proficiency in Python. Only the final exam counts towards the grade and hence it is extremely important for one to score well in the finals.

Web Crawler Udacity

Coming to the teaching, it is really wonderful how Mr Evans progresses with the course. he has lots of patience and teaches the concepts with ease. He breaks down the building of a search engine into relatively small chunks which are self programmable and thus gives a sense of confidence while finishing the course. The Udacity staff had also announced a contest in which the best search engine app developer would get a chance to go to the Udacity headquarters in Palo Alto thus attracted a lot of entries.

The teaching assistants are quite friendly and there is a huge collection of questions in the forums. There is about a 90% chance that whatever you wanted to ask has already been asked. Even if it is a new one, the speed with which queries are answered make it feel almost instantaneous.

I believe this course is extremely helpful for the students looking to take their first step in Python programming. It gives a sense of confidence to the user and thus helps him carry on Python programming even though he has learnt only the basics. This course followed by Coursera's Learn To Programming: The Fundamentals and then edX's 6.00x will make a master programmer out of any newbie.


  1. Very Good Info..Even for sometime now I was looking something like that on Python and Thanks to you now I will give it think

    1. Thanks for reading the post. It really helped me start with Python and will surely help you too :) .


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