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École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Functional Programming Principles in Scala

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne via Coursera


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Functional programming is becoming increasingly widespread in industry. This trend is driven by the adoption of Scala as the main programming language for many applications. Scala fuses functional and object-oriented programming in a practical package. It interoperates seamlessly with both Java and Javascript. Scala is the implementation language of many important frameworks, including Apache Spark, Kafka, and Akka. It provides the core infrastructure for sites such as Twitter, Netflix, Zalando, and also Coursera. In this course, you will discover the elements of the functional programming style and learn how to apply them usefully in your daily programming tasks, such as modeling business domains or implementing business logic. You will also develop a solid foundation for reasoning about functional programs, by touching upon proofs of invariants and the tracing of execution symbolically. The course is hands-on; most units introduce short programs that serve as illustrations of important concepts and invite you to play with them, modifying and improving them. The course is complemented by a series of programming projects as homework assignments. Recommended background: You should have at least one year of programming experience. Proficiency with Java or C# is ideal, but experience with other languages such as C/C++, Python, Javascript, or Ruby is also sufficient. You should have some background in mathematics (e.g., algebra, logic, proof by induction). Last, you should have some familiarity with using the command line.


  • Getting Started + Functions & Evaluation
    • Get up and running with Scala on your computer. Complete an example assignment to familiarize yourself with our unique way of submitting assignments. In this week, we'll learn the difference between functional imperative programming. We step through the basics of Scala; covering expressions, evaluation, conditionals, functions, and recursion
  • Higher Order Functions
    • This week, we'll learn about functions as first-class values, and higher order functions. We'll also learn about Scala's syntax and how it's formally defined. Finally, we'll learn about methods, classes, and data abstraction through the design of a data structure for rational numbers.
  • Data and Abstraction
    • This week, we'll cover traits, and we'll learn how to organize classes into hierarchies. We'll cover the hierarchy of standard Scala types, and see how to organize classes and traits into packages. Finally, we'll touch upon the different sorts of polymorphism in Scala.
  • Types and Pattern Matching
    • This week we'll learn about the relationship between functions and objects in Scala; functions *are* objects! We'll zoom in on Scala's type system, covering subtyping and generics, and moving on to more advanced aspects of Scala's type system like variance. Finally, we'll cover Scala's most widely used data structure, Lists, and one of Scala's most powerful tools, pattern matching.
  • Lists
    • This week we dive into Lists, the most commonly-used data structure in Scala.
  • Collections
    • After a deep-dive into Lists, this week we'll explore other data structures; vectors, maps, ranges, arrays, and more. We'll dive into Scala's powerful and flexible for-comprehensions for querying data.

Taught by

Martin Odersky


4.6 rating, based on 65 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 8234 ratings

Start your review of Functional Programming Principles in Scala

  • Anonymous
    I am currently taking this course and I find it extremely hard. I have been programming for the last 10 years so I consider myself a relatively experienced programmer. My main complaint about this course is that the lecture material does nothing to…
  • Mark Wilbur
    This course assumed no background in Scala. It was a self-contained course involving some hard problems. I had plenty of headaches while working on the homework assignments, but not once did I run into a problem related to environment set-up or unsp…
  • Kartik Kukreja
    The programming assignments complement the course material and are much harder than your typical MOOC assignments. A single assignment can easily take anywhere from 5 to 10 hours. It does not appear to be a watered-down version of the course taught at EPFL and looks like the real deal.

    This is not a beginner level course and is not meant as a first introduction to programming. It expects students to have at least one year programming experience. It is a hectic course which will keep you engaged throughout. I would recommend it for everyone serious about Computer Science.
  • Anonymous
    This class was excellent. This was my first attempt at learning functional programming after having spent the past 13 years doing OO programming and the 3 years before that doing procedural programming and it was much more challenging than I expected. Thanks to this class I have rethought the entire way I approach programming and I feel like I am much more effective because of it. Keep up the wonderful work at Coursera and EPFL! Your efforts are most certainly appreciated!
  • Anonymous
    This course is not for beginners and I would say it is not even suitable for some intermediate programmers. There isn't a sufficiently good introduction to recursion, which makes the exercise problems very hard for anyone new to the idea. While the course assumes little prior knowledge of programming, I feel only people with some experience in functional programming will feel at home attempting the problems.
  • Anonymous
    Not for software engineers!

    Over 60% of the course and lectures are about compilers and language theory. I have taken those courses in the university already. If you want to learn Scala an how to solve problems in a functional way this course is not for you.

    It only about the language syntax and how to apply them. It doesn't go into higher level abstraction. Design patterns or real world problems.
  • Anonymous
    An excellent course. Very much appreciated the simple to install and use Eclipse environment and sbt tool. The classes were very clear and the exercises extremely well described. I struggled on this course, Functional Programming is quite a paradigm shift for me - really glad I made the effort. Looking forward to a future course from Dr Odersky.

  • Anonymous
    This course was well designed. The assignment submission tool able to give feedback and pointed out which area I lost point. This was probably the hardest course I've ever taken, provided that it was my first attempt learning functional programming. Nevertheless, it was worth it.
  • Francois Fernando
    The best class I have taken on programming. This course does demand a lot of work from you but it opens up you to new way to think about programming. I had significant professional development experience in Java, but that didn't make it any easier.
  • This course is amazing! The assignments are so much fun and professor Odersky really explained all the functional programming concepts well! I finally understand how to write in a functional way.
  • Anonymous
    Very important to anyone who is using the language and to understand the power of functional programming- this is the place. Be patient with the course. It is excellent.
  • Mark Riker
    Definitely one of the best programming courses I have ever had. It has a great structure and comes with really interesting and challenging assignments.
  • Yuriy Eremin
    Excellent course for Java developers that want to try something functional.
    Also this course doesn't require experience with Java, but it will a big plus.
  • Tarun Barthwal
    This course is hard but totally worth it.
    Tip: The assignments mention 3 hours but on average it takes 4 to 12 hours.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent introduction to both functional programming and Scala. Well defined assignments and coherent lectures.
  • Anonymous
    Great learning. Non-trivial concepts are explained in a clear way. I could not wait for the next week exercise...
  • Nati
    Easily one of the best courses I've ever encountered. It is difficult for someone who is not familiar with FP but in a good way. You learn a great deal as you work on exercises, which are, by the way, very thoroughly prepared.
    I must say, however, that setting up a different IDE than the suggested Eclipse was a pain and course does not cover the environment or its troubleshooting. Discussion forums thrive with such discussions, though.
  • Profile image for Luiz Cunha
    Luiz Cunha
    1st Course of the Specialization " Functional Programming In Scala": the best one as well
    This is a top course for anyone interesting in Functional Programming and/or Scala
    (+) subject, videos contents
    (+) engaging delivery by Prof. Oberski
    (+) good and challenging assignments
  • Vpm
    I agree with what many of the other reviewers have said: this is a difficult course and the assignments can sometimes take a while. But it's also one in which you learn a great deal, especially if it's your first exposure to functional programming.
  • Anonymous
    Great course. Everything was on time, lectures were great. Problem sets were insightful. Definitely recommend. It is a functional programming language course though, so be prepared for lots of recursion.

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