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Stanford’s Free Classes on AI, Machine Learning, and Databases


Last reminder: These courses start tomorrow!

Artificial intelligence is a popular programming topic, with obvious applications in game development, and machine learning is a branch of AI focused on creating code that can learn based on past experiences. Databases are perhaps not as stereotypically cool to study, but still very important for any programmer. Stanford University is offering free, online, undergraduate-level courses in each subject. Read on to find out how you can enroll...

Are These Proper University Courses?

Yes and no. The courses are online versions of those which actual Stanford students will take (other than being delayed by a couple of weeks), and so will be taught and graded at university level - but studying online won't get you a Stanford certificate or university credit, so you won't be able to put "attended Stanford university" on your CV.

Still, you'll get the lectures (in video format) and the homework and exams (which you can submit and have graded electronically), so you'll be learning the same material as the Stanford students!

What's Being Taught?

Three courses are on offer:

Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

You'll need to brush up on your probability and linear algebra skills (perhaps you could try Khan Academy).

For more information, and to enroll, visit ai-class.com.

Machine Learning

Again, you'll need to be familiar with basic probability theory and linear algebra.

For more information, and to enroll, visit ml-class.com.

Introduction to Databases

This isn't just about relational databases and SQL; it also covers XML (including XPath, XQuery and XSLT), UML, and "NoSQL" systems.

For more information, and to enroll, visit db-class.com.

Is There a Deadline?

Yes. This isn't like Tuts+ Premium, where you sign up and have access to courses and tutorials to read at your leisure; everybody taking the online course starts at the same time, with new lectures released each week and homework assignments due in on certain dates.

The courses all start on the 10th of October, and end in mid-December, so you should enroll today if you are interested at all.

If you don't have time, or simply don't want, to do the homework assignments, you can opt to take the "basic track" - in the AI course at least - which has the same material, but without the homework or exams. You can downgrade to this at any time, so there's no harm in signing up to the "advanced track" for now.

If you're interested in programming, I hope you'll sign up to at least one of the courses - not just because of the content, but because this should be a really interesting experiment in online learning.

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