I decided to try the Johns Hopkins Data Science Specialization at Coursera. My background is more in Artificial Intelligence, than Data Science. AI and Data Science are both very closely related. However, because I now work full time as a data scientist, I am looking to broaden my knowledge of data science. New ideas in data science will also be helpful, as I am starting a PhD in Computer Science in the fall.
The specialization includes nine four-week courses and a capstone project. The capstone project will apparently be somewhat competitive, as they will profile the top ten students on the Simply Statistics blog. Perhaps sort of a mini-Kaggle? Since I am somewhat masochistic, I decided to take the first three classes simultaneously. I am currently enrolled in the following:
- The Data Scientist's Toolbox
- R Programming
- Getting and Cleaning Data
These courses are a decent amount of work. I am not sure I will take the next three in parallel. I will write more about my impressions of each of the above three courses when I complete them in a few weeks.
The specialization uses the R Programming Language. My experience in AI has been with C++, Java and .Net writing low level models for the Encog Project. For data science projects I primarily use Python. Though I have done some work in R, overall R is somewhat new to me. R is very different than C++ or Python. R is a not a general purpose programming language. R is a DSL for statistical computing. I am very pleased that this specialization will deepen my understanding of R in the programming language. Python and R seem to be the two leading languages for data science.
So far I am impressed with the assignments. We are using data from CSV Files, web pages and even web service API's. The assignments are challenging, especially if you have not done a great deal of R programming. I do not recommend taking "R Programming" simultaneous with "Getting and Cleaning Data", as "R Programing" is a solid prerequisite to "Getting and Cleaning Data". I did take these two together, but it required me completing the assignments for "R Programming" in the first week! This is okay if you have time, and previous programming experience.
I will write more about each class once I complete them May 5th. You can read my completed review here.