Computer Architecture

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4/10 stars
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Course Details

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FREE

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Course Provider

Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4724 reviews

Course Description

In this course, you will learn to design the computer architecture of complex modern microprocessors.
Reviews 4/10 stars
1 Review for Computer Architecture

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Jon Snow profile image
Jon Snow profile image
3/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 6 months ago
The best way to characterize this course is, “Great material – poor execution.” The curriculum was interesting and challenging, covering a wide array of topics in computer microarchitecture -- processor design, memory optimizations, multiprocessor architectures and network communications. The textbooks were well chosen (though asking students to purchase three textbooks is, for many, asking a lot financially). But overall the course suffered from various technical problems and lack of engagement on the part of the staff. It would be more honest to call it a self-study rather than a “course.” The technical problems seem to have resulted from a half-hearted effort to turn a live class into an online course. Video segments were missing and had to be requested. Entire lectures were mislabeled. The audio failed frequently, in one case over about 100 consecutive minutes of lecture, resulting in an echoey track that was barely audible and o... The best way to characterize this course is, “Great material – poor execution.” The curriculum was interesting and challenging, covering a wide array of topics in computer microarchitecture -- processor design, memory optimizations, multiprocessor architectures and network communications. The textbooks were well chosen (though asking students to purchase three textbooks is, for many, asking a lot financially). But overall the course suffered from various technical problems and lack of engagement on the part of the staff. It would be more honest to call it a self-study rather than a “course.” The technical problems seem to have resulted from a half-hearted effort to turn a live class into an online course. Video segments were missing and had to be requested. Entire lectures were mislabeled. The audio failed frequently, in one case over about 100 consecutive minutes of lecture, resulting in an echoey track that was barely audible and often unintelligible. When the instructor moved away from the screen to write something on the blackboard, the camera typically did not follow, resulting in a comically empty frame until the camera operator finally woke up. The in-lecture questions that appeared on- screen sometimes migrated out of their logical slots and past the credits at the end of a segment. The slides could have benefitted from more dynamic sequences showing movement of data and the like, and where such sequences appeared in lecture, they were not provided in the slide decks. The lectures were generally clear and understandable, if not especially inspiring, and complemented the reading. Some of the slides, however, were clearly taken from a similar course offered at other institutions (and credited as such), and these were poorly explained or glossed over; the lectures suffered here. The problem sets were challenging and broadly covered the lecture topics. Occasionally a problem had no lecture or reading antecedent, perhaps because the topic was covered in a lab that was not part of the online course – again, a deficiency in adapting the live class to an online format. More problematic were the frequent errors in the solutions, some of which were corrected in response to student postings and some of which were not, as well as the paucity of explanation. Disappointingly, the staff answered virtually none of the substantive questions posted to the discussion boards (other than to occasionally confirm the correctness of a student-posted answer). This was surprising given how few questions there actually were throughout the course. In fact, most of the questions arose from the incorrect or inadequately explained solutions to problem sets. Unless the problem itself called for an explanation, the solutions offered none. While bare answers may make sense in advance of a live class to discuss them, obviously there is no such class in an online course; and just as obviously, erroneous solutions never make sense. Exams were challenging but ultimately frustrating and somewhat pointless. It took almost as much time to enter answers into the primitive on-screen template as it did to actually take the exam; line after line of characters had to be entered in a specific font and painstakingly aligned. The grading rubric was difficult to apply and did not cover the range of possible answers. Despite several students’ requests, no statistics were provided, so we had no idea many students took the exams, how well we did relative to our classmates or how our efforts rated objectively. Given the absence of grading statistics, a completion certificate or even acknowledgment of participation in this class, it is difficult to see the value of actually submitting the exam or grading others; since the grading rubric (imperfectly) supplied the answers, why not simply grade yourself? Again, this reflected a lack of staff engagement. Certainly we participants have paid nothing for this course and don’t expect generous outlays of faculty support or time. But many of us did put quite a bit of time into the study of advanced subject matter; it is not unreasonable to expect at least a modicum of attention and feedback from the course staff. One professor offered this explanation of “what’s in it for Princeton” in providing online courses: “With tens of thousands of students completing exercises, there are sure to be lots of interesting stuff to learn and analytics to be done. We can find what errors students are most likely to make and which topics are most troublesome.” I hope that Princeton derived at least some benefit from our collective experience. Princeton’s end of the bargain, in my view, is to provide something more than an open coursewear self-study. In fact, the technical deficiencies in the videos and slide sets, and the inadequate solutions to probem sets, compromised the effectiveness of the course even as a staff-less self-study. Certainly it disappointed as a “class.”
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