edX: Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python (MIT)

Actually finished up this course a while ago, but haven’t written it up yet.  I felt a little vindicated by how easy this was, especially after getting hammered with the Discrete Optimization course I took last.  I barely watched any of the videos; really just did the programming assignments.

  • One on string manipulation, finding vowels or substrings
  • A debt/min payment equation solver
  • Hangman game
  • Scrabble-like game
  • Caesar cipher coding and decoding
  • Parsing an RSS feed for stories matching desired keywords, etc.

Everything was pretty much fill-in-the-blank.  Decent auto-grader, as seems to be the norm for these types of online programming classes.

Besides being a good Python review, I did learn more about properly working with dictionaries:

Remember that with a dictionary, the usual way to access a value is hand['a'], where 'a' is the key we want to find. However, this only works if the key is in the dictionary; otherwise, we get a KeyError. To avoid this, we can use the call hand.get('a',0). This is the “safe” way to access a value if we are not sure the key is in the dictionary. d.get(key,default) returns the value for key if key is in the dictionary d, else default.


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