[As described below, this is Part B of a 3-part course. Participants should complete Part A first -- Part B "dives right in" and refers often to material from Part A.]
This course is an introduction to the basic concepts of programming languages, with a strong emphasis on functional programming. The course uses the languages ML, Racket, and Ruby as vehicles for teaching the concepts, but the real intent is to teach enough about how any language “fits together” to make you more effective programming in any language -- and in learning new ones.
This course is neither particularly theoretical nor just about programming specifics -- it will give you a framework for understanding how to use language constructs effectively and how to design correct and elegant programs. By using different languages, you will learn to think more deeply than in terms of the particular syntax of one language. The emphasis on functional programming is essential for learning how to write robust, reusable, composable, and elegant programs. Indeed, many of the most important ideas in modern languages have their roots in functional programming. Get ready to learn a fresh and beautiful way to look at software and how to have fun building it.
The course assumes some prior experience with programming, as described in more detail in the first module of Part A. Part B assumes successful completion of Part A.
The course is divided into three Coursera courses: Part A, Part B, and Part C. As explained in more detail in the first module of Part A, the overall course is a substantial amount of challenging material, so the three-part format provides two intermediate milestones and opportunities for a pause before continuing. The three parts are designed to be completed in order and set up to motivate you to continue through to the end of Part C.
Week 1 of Part A has a more detailed list of topics for all three parts of the course, but it is expected that most course participants will not (yet!) know what all these topics mean.
Introduction, Course-Wide Information, and Software Installation (Start Here)
-Welcome! Start here! Learn about this course and how it's organized.
Section 5 and Homework 4 (First Module with Racket)
-Let's get started programming with Racket and then learning idioms related to delaying evaluation. The welcome message has a few additional comments about picking up a new language and how to approach the homework assignment, so let's get started...
Section 6 and Homework 5 (Second Module with Racket)
-Welcome to the second week of Part B where we will focus on (a) building data structures in dynamically typed languages and (b) implementing programming languages with interpreters. Most of the programming assignment is focused on (b) -- implementing a small programming language that has function closures. As usual, start with the welcome message and enjoy!
Section 7 Including a Quiz
-In the last module of Part B we will use our experience programming in ML and Racket to
compare and contrast static typing and dynamic typing. This is not only the most important difference between these two languages, but it is a fundamental topic in the study of programming languages. Learning it can help you program more effectively in both kinds of languages. After completing this week's quiz, don't forget to watch the Part B Wrap-Up and Part C Preview video.
Chris Dziewa is taking this course right now, spending 20 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
I will preface this by saying that I liked the first course and the instructor is extremely intelligent. The first week of part B was difficult but more straight-forward. The second week seemed easy but I ended up spending about 20 hours debugging one...
I will preface this by saying that I liked the first course and the instructor is extremely intelligent. The first week of part B was difficult but more straight-forward. The second week seemed easy but I ended up spending about 20 hours debugging one function, only to find that I had it right but that an earlier function was incorrect despite passing tests. The most challenging thing about this course was wasting time in the forums when I couldn't even post my code to find out where I went wrong. I believe that knowing where to look for information is way more important in programming than attempting to figure out everything on your own when you aren't getting anywhere. In a classroom, I could ask for help and be guided to what I am doing wrong. This isn't possible here. My other gripe with this course is that a lot of the directions and questions in Week 2, several of the lectures, and questions and choices on the final quiz seem confusingly worded as if they are made in such a way as to trip you up. I felt a great sense of accomplishment when finishing Part A. It was very difficult for me. I had to keep extending my deadline but I pushed through. I don't feel the same about this second part. I hope that part C will be more like part A.