Discrete Optimization

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9/10 stars
based on  34 reviews
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Coursera online courses
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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.

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Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4234 reviews

Course Description

Tired of solving Sudokus by hand? This class teaches you how to solve complex search problems with discrete optimization concepts and algorithms, including constraint programming, local search, and mixed-integer programming.
Reviews 9/10 stars
34 Reviews for Discrete Optimization

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Andrea Rendl profile image
Andrea Rendl profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
If you are an expert in one of the three fields covered in this course (CP, LS and MIP) and wonder if it's worth taking a look at this course, then you might want to read this review :) I have quite some experience in CP (PhD level) and took this course to learn more about LS and MIP techniques and to broaden my general optimization experience. I decided to grant myself about 10 hours per week to solve all assignments to optimality using different techniques that I always wanted to try out on a problem, but never had time or opportunity to do so. If you have a similar objective towards this course, I can highly recommend you to take it; I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot for the following reasons: * The problem instances are not easy to solve (some are really hard) even though the problem assignments are all wellknown problems. * The electronic submission systems returns an immediate feedback on the quality of your submitted solutio... If you are an expert in one of the three fields covered in this course (CP, LS and MIP) and wonder if it's worth taking a look at this course, then you might want to read this review :) I have quite some experience in CP (PhD level) and took this course to learn more about LS and MIP techniques and to broaden my general optimization experience. I decided to grant myself about 10 hours per week to solve all assignments to optimality using different techniques that I always wanted to try out on a problem, but never had time or opportunity to do so. If you have a similar objective towards this course, I can highly recommend you to take it; I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot for the following reasons: * The problem instances are not easy to solve (some are really hard) even though the problem assignments are all wellknown problems. * The electronic submission systems returns an immediate feedback on the quality of your submitted solution and indicates how far away you are from the optimal solution. This was great to assess the current state of the algorithm and also motivated to do better. * It was quite easy to interface external solvers or use other programming languages than Python. This was quite motivating to try out (and compare) different tools/languages. Also, you don't need to mess around with side works like processing instance data etc; the provided python scripts do all this for you. You can just focus on implementing your algorithm. * I watched the lectures on LS and MIP and enjoyed them a lot. Pascal is a fantastic teacher and has a very clear and structured way of explaining things, using very illustrative examples. * There are also discussion forums that I discovered quite late in the course. I found them extremely interesting, in particular to read how others tackle the assignments and what problems they have experienced. In my opinion, the forums contain a considerable amount of very valuable experience that is worth reading. * The staff of the course are extremely motivated and committed. They are involved in the discussion forums and provide weekly video mailbags in which they discuss the current status and updates. They really strive to communicate with the students. This gave me the feeling of really being involved within the course community and not of simply interacting with a webpage. I found this very motivating to keep on the (hard) work. * Finally, doing this course showed me again how much you learn by actually trying out things (in contrast to simply reading about them) and that also as an 'expert' there is still much to learn. In the end, I completed the course and had to work hard to make it to a distinction within my restricted time budget (and I was very proud and excited for having achieved it! :) In my opinion, this is a challenging, fun course from which you can learn a lot, even if you are already an expert in one of the fields.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
6 months, 1 week ago
Most amazing, deep and consequential online course for me. In something like 9 weeks I learned more in CS/math than in a few previous years, sharpened my dev skills and as a result, aced an amazon sde-2 interview. Looking to retake it some time later to learn and use more techniques (I did not use all the first time around), meet more people and get a certificate with distinction! For this course, it's totally worth it.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
6 months, 3 weeks ago
Good lecture, high quality content and good provider of coursera. It is a hard topic, so don't take it unless you are the last year Computer Science student or have worked for several years.
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Dmitry Groshev profile image
Dmitry Groshev profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
1 year, 9 months ago
I managed to beat this course third time I took it. It is challenging (I would say it's on par with Prof. Keller's PGM course, hope it will be restarted some day), but very engaging and rewarding. The course is structured in an unusual way: all videos and all assignments are open from the beginning, with "free" deadlines added to keep students on track. This combination provokes your procrastination, but please beware: "nah, I'll do it all in a last week" attitude will fail you, because you will probably need 2 to 3 weeks of full-time engagement to complete the course, better spread them throughout full course duration. Instructor did an amazing job to present the material. The only thing that I can complain about is lesser engagement of Prof. Hentenryck in the third offering compared to previous ones :) But it's really the only thing that I can think of. All in all, the course is amazing. 10/10 would do again (4th time)!
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Greg Hamel profile image
Greg Hamel profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 115 reviews
  • 106 completed
1 year, 8 months ago
Discrete optimization is a quasi-self-paced programming course offered by the University of Melbourne through Coursera that is all about solving hard problems. Hard problems in the context of this course means NP-hard problems--problems with exponential worst-case running times. The course differs from most classes on Coursera and elsewhere on the web in that all the materials are available as soon as the course opens, but there is a final deadline for the programming assignments, so it is not a self-paced course in the truest sense. The entire course grade is based on 5 programming assignments: the knapsack problem, graph coloring, traveling salesman, warehouse location and vehicle routing. An average score of 7 (out of 10) on each part of each programming assignment is required to earn a certificate. Discrete optimization opens with an introductory lecture series on the knapsack problem that lasts a couple of hours followed by t... Discrete optimization is a quasi-self-paced programming course offered by the University of Melbourne through Coursera that is all about solving hard problems. Hard problems in the context of this course means NP-hard problems--problems with exponential worst-case running times. The course differs from most classes on Coursera and elsewhere on the web in that all the materials are available as soon as the course opens, but there is a final deadline for the programming assignments, so it is not a self-paced course in the truest sense. The entire course grade is based on 5 programming assignments: the knapsack problem, graph coloring, traveling salesman, warehouse location and vehicle routing. An average score of 7 (out of 10) on each part of each programming assignment is required to earn a certificate. Discrete optimization opens with an introductory lecture series on the knapsack problem that lasts a couple of hours followed by three longer lecture series, covering constraint programming, local search and mixed integer programming. The lectures do not need to be viewed in any particular order. Similarly, students can work on the homework projects in any order they choose. This level of freedom is great for students who want to work ahead but it may make it difficult to complete the course if you don't plan ahead because the programming assignments can be very time consuming. The assignment skeleton and submission code is written in Python 2.7, but you can use languages if you want. The professor, Pascal Van Hentenryck, is extremely energetic and passionate about the subject. He makes the lecture videos surprisingly fun for such a dense subject. The lecture videos themselves are well-made and the professor does a good job explaining the material, although I sometimes felt like the course was trying to cover too many different topics and it wasn't always clear how one would go about applying the methods in lecture to the assignments or using them without using some external package or solver. A little more instruction and direction in that regard would be helpful. Discrete optimization is challenging course with great programming assignments that introduces many different tools and leaves them on the table for you to play with. The tools don't always with full instruction manuals, so you'll have to figure out many of the details yourself. You won't have time to apply every tool to every problem, but if you focus on one and budget your time well, you'll have a good shot at making it through. I give discrete optimization 4 out of 5 stars: Very Good.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 9 months ago
I think this course is great. The lectures are top quality and I like that it is self paced. I highly recommend it. The assignments can be very time consuming. It is important to make sure that you have the recommended time available if you intend to complete the course. If you can't make that much time available, you can take away as much as you can and then retake the course the next time it is offered. It is not unusual for a participant to take the course two times. I had no experience with Python before taking this class, but found my exposure to the language to be an added benefit of the course. I like Python and can see myself using it in the future. It seems easy to learn and use. In that way, it reminds me of BASIC.
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8/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 9 months ago
I thought this was an excellent way for an interested learner that wants to work at his own pace to rapidly gain some useful intellectual tools for doing optimization. The instructor's zeal for the material was infectious, and so the lectures were as fun as they were informative. The course staff was very helpful, and I really appreciated the practical focus of everyone involved. I especially enjoyed the open-ended nature of the assignments where it was up to the student to select the tools and methods to apply to individual problems. I tried a lot of different stuff, and as a result, gained a lot of useful experience. The coursera platform was a great way to work through the course material. This was my first stab at a MOOC learning experience, and I'm sold. The organization of the assignments into what amounted to minature contests was an interesting approach, and I think it was motivating for me. I still feel the urge to t... I thought this was an excellent way for an interested learner that wants to work at his own pace to rapidly gain some useful intellectual tools for doing optimization. The instructor's zeal for the material was infectious, and so the lectures were as fun as they were informative. The course staff was very helpful, and I really appreciated the practical focus of everyone involved. I especially enjoyed the open-ended nature of the assignments where it was up to the student to select the tools and methods to apply to individual problems. I tried a lot of different stuff, and as a result, gained a lot of useful experience. The coursera platform was a great way to work through the course material. This was my first stab at a MOOC learning experience, and I'm sold. The organization of the assignments into what amounted to minature contests was an interesting approach, and I think it was motivating for me. I still feel the urge to take a second look at the problems I scored 7's on. The only real advice I have for improving the class would be to maybe collect together some useful background material for folks that like to dig into the details. I know I did a fair bit of searching, which is probably a good skill to develop in its own right, but it would have been nice to have a small set of curated material available as a research seed.
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Ant Super profile image
Ant Super profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 9 reviews
  • 7 completed
2 years, 10 months ago
I had only known some concepts about discrete problems, and the course was a very nice and convenient further expansion on this. The lecturer is also very, very entertaining. A considerable part of the course is implementing some tough discrete optimization tasks which are evaluated competitively against other participants. I didn't have the time to participate, but I suppose it's very fun.
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Richard Taylor profile image
Richard Taylor profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 29 reviews
  • 28 completed
2 years, 9 months ago
This is a very nice course on solving difficult problems. The lectures are excellent very well presented and full of enthusiasm and humour. The instructors post frequently and monitor how the course is going. The programming assignments are very interesting, challenging and presented in a competitive way. There are only two things why I'm not giving this course 5 stars. The first thing is that the grading of the programming assigments is very coarse grained, you either get 0,3,7 or 10. It would be good to have the full range from 0 to 10 because not all 7's are the same. The second problem is that if you want to get full marks on the assignments you probably should use an external solver or library rather than code your own solution. I believe there should be a separate leaderboard for those that are coding your own solutions to learn the methods, otherwise you end up competing against the top libraries and programs in the industry. ... This is a very nice course on solving difficult problems. The lectures are excellent very well presented and full of enthusiasm and humour. The instructors post frequently and monitor how the course is going. The programming assignments are very interesting, challenging and presented in a competitive way. There are only two things why I'm not giving this course 5 stars. The first thing is that the grading of the programming assigments is very coarse grained, you either get 0,3,7 or 10. It would be good to have the full range from 0 to 10 because not all 7's are the same. The second problem is that if you want to get full marks on the assignments you probably should use an external solver or library rather than code your own solution. I believe there should be a separate leaderboard for those that are coding your own solutions to learn the methods, otherwise you end up competing against the top libraries and programs in the industry. That's not a bad thing but it shouldn't affect your final grade.
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soesilo wijono profile image
soesilo wijono profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 19 reviews
  • 19 completed
2 years, 9 months ago
This is the most challenging and hardest course I've completed in Coursera =) The freedom in the PAs to choose our own algorithms make it very challenging. Also the uneasy data samples. Have to follow the discussion forum to get ideas to be able to approach the expected results. This course has very unique programming assignments with Leader Board table listing all students' result sorted based on best result. Hard for me because I've never taken any optimization class before, only maybe basic experiences in programming took me to complete this course with only enough points to pass. I'm enrolling again this course in the upcoming 2014 session, hopefully I'll be better after finishing other more basic courses on optimization =D Update 2014 session: Great! I learn a lot more. Really very interesting & precious course. I read a lot of positive feedbacks in the discussion forum. Now the course has a ungraded Set Cover problem, and the w... This is the most challenging and hardest course I've completed in Coursera =) The freedom in the PAs to choose our own algorithms make it very challenging. Also the uneasy data samples. Have to follow the discussion forum to get ideas to be able to approach the expected results. This course has very unique programming assignments with Leader Board table listing all students' result sorted based on best result. Hard for me because I've never taken any optimization class before, only maybe basic experiences in programming took me to complete this course with only enough points to pass. I'm enrolling again this course in the upcoming 2014 session, hopefully I'll be better after finishing other more basic courses on optimization =D Update 2014 session: Great! I learn a lot more. Really very interesting & precious course. I read a lot of positive feedbacks in the discussion forum. Now the course has a ungraded Set Cover problem, and the web-based assignments visualization, and changes in the warehouse location data. My keywords: branch and bound (knapsack); iterated greedy, CP, cliques (graph coloring); simulated annealing, k-opt, clustering, lin-kernighan heuristic (travelling salesman); MIP, nearest-neighbors, LNS (facility location); MIP with subtour elimination, lazy constraints, nearest-neighbors, greedy as initial solution, local search, cluster-first route-second (vehicle routing). Thank you.
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Branko profile image
Branko profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
This is an awesome course. The workload is quite demanding (probably unless you have solid previous experience with the topics or you are outstanding programmer), but its very much worth it. It is a very enjoyable learning experience from start to end. Videos offer a lot of information to process but they are also fun to watch, very unconventional and never dull. Assignments are also very interesting and offer quite a challenge. After you finish this course you really have a sense of achieving something worthwhile and challenging, and you know you learned a lot while at the same time having fun all the way through. This course would probably also make you a better programmer overall due to the assignments that require from you to constantly improve on your code (so its not only discrete optimization, in a way its code optimization as well).
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Maciej Pilichowski profile image
Maciej Pilichowski profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 9 reviews
  • 9 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
Exciting subject, Prof. Van Hentenryck is walking enthusiasm, each assignment is tough and challenging and there is plenty of room for improvement (of solution, not the problem). And the course is sooo addictive. The course is not without issues -- the lectures are huge in length, and the format is not balanced well -- you learn about all theory upfront and then you guess which approach to take. There are no small, warm-up problems, to test given technique. Despite any problem that you can face, my advice, take this course, you can be frustrated, but you won't regret it (the course is VERY time- consuming, so make sure you don't have any other commitments).
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Tero Keski-Valkama profile image
Tero Keski-Valkama profile image
10/10 starsTaking Now
  • 1 review
  • 0 completed
3 years, 7 months ago
I consider this course the best course I have ever attended (in Coursera or elsewhere), and prof. Pascal von Hentenryck is an insanely awesome lecturer. Having learned the Simplex algorithm in my alma mater, and in another Coursera course again, I was beginning to think that it is completely and utterly impossible to teach it so that listeners will actually understand it. But prof. Pascal von Hentenryck proved me wrong! :) He's clearly the best lecturer I have ever seen and the background work for this course has been executed spectacularly.
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Richard King profile image
Richard King profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
Excellent course for the right person with the right expectations. I already have degrees in this subject, but haven't really used that knowledge in several decades, so this course was a nice refresher and update for me. And since I work as a programmer, it's not like getting the programming assignments done was a burden for me. Warning: Prof. van Hentenryck is trying to cover a huge field in a relatively short time, so his presentation tends to be rushed. In the process, he mentions things seemingly casually, almost in passing, that are, in fact, quite important. One thing I agonized over, eventually figuring out what I needed to do to make progress on one assignment, turned out to be a partial remembering/recreation of something in my own notes that I'd since mostly forgotten. He hadn't laid out the reasoning or importance quite enough for it to stick in my head, I guess. It was a bit of a challenge, at the time, but having worked ... Excellent course for the right person with the right expectations. I already have degrees in this subject, but haven't really used that knowledge in several decades, so this course was a nice refresher and update for me. And since I work as a programmer, it's not like getting the programming assignments done was a burden for me. Warning: Prof. van Hentenryck is trying to cover a huge field in a relatively short time, so his presentation tends to be rushed. In the process, he mentions things seemingly casually, almost in passing, that are, in fact, quite important. One thing I agonized over, eventually figuring out what I needed to do to make progress on one assignment, turned out to be a partial remembering/recreation of something in my own notes that I'd since mostly forgotten. He hadn't laid out the reasoning or importance quite enough for it to stick in my head, I guess. It was a bit of a challenge, at the time, but having worked through it myself in the face of a real problem, I came away certain to remember the relevant concepts, and their importance, forever.
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Julie Sims profile image
Julie Sims profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
I had no experience with Python or basic computational algorithms, so the learning curve was steep at first. Despite that, I enjoyed every minute of the course. I had to spend much more time than on the previous two courses I have done, but I learnt a lot, and in a fun way. The lecturer is inspiring with his enthusiasm and there was plenty of help in the forums. Next time, they are planning to have more help in getting started for novices, which should flatten the learning curve a bit. If you enjoy solving mathematical puzzles, have basic computer programming skills and 10-20 hours a week to spare, you'll love this course.
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baris demiroz profile image
baris demiroz profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
This course is fantastic. Let me warn you, it is hard. In a fun way. Even though I did know nothing about optimization at the beginning, this course managed to teach me many important aspects of discrete optimization. The material is just great, I can't imagine how much effort is spent on just the materials. It is visually appealing and those figures are very helpful delivering the message. I enjoyed every bit of this course. If you can spare the time take it.
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Rene Jansen profile image
Rene Jansen profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 6 months ago
So far I have completed seven or eight courses on Coursera, and although I have enjoyed them all very much, Discrete Optimization by Pascal van Hentenryck is my absolute number one!! The course is tough, time consuming but great fun and very rewarding. The professor and his team have done a great job preparing this course and actively monitor the discussions on the forum. Time and again they give warnings that this course is intended to be hard. In one of the first videos the prof wears a builders helmet and gives yet another warning: "this is not a lecture, this is WORK!!" A very passionate teacher he is. Discussing the assignments on the forum is encouraged, the honour code being less strict. If you have a background in maths and programming and are willing to settle for an 'ordinary' statement of accomplishment, it need not be so hard and time consuming at all. But if you want 'with distinction' - that's when the hard work begins.... So far I have completed seven or eight courses on Coursera, and although I have enjoyed them all very much, Discrete Optimization by Pascal van Hentenryck is my absolute number one!! The course is tough, time consuming but great fun and very rewarding. The professor and his team have done a great job preparing this course and actively monitor the discussions on the forum. Time and again they give warnings that this course is intended to be hard. In one of the first videos the prof wears a builders helmet and gives yet another warning: "this is not a lecture, this is WORK!!" A very passionate teacher he is. Discussing the assignments on the forum is encouraged, the honour code being less strict. If you have a background in maths and programming and are willing to settle for an 'ordinary' statement of accomplishment, it need not be so hard and time consuming at all. But if you want 'with distinction' - that's when the hard work begins. And then there is this thing called the 'leader board' where you can see how your fellow students are doing on the assignments. If you want your name on the top of that list... This is one of these very special courses where you will be sad when it's over.
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Douglas Nakajima profile image
Douglas Nakajima profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
The best course I have ever taken. If you have some experience in programming and computational complexity, you will love this course. The professor has a very good way to feedback students every week and keep us motivated. The programming assignments are hard and time consuming but also very fun.
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Gregory Bush profile image
Gregory Bush profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 9 reviews
  • 7 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
This was one of the most fun and most challenging classes I've taken in any format. There are other classes that cover aspects of DO like linear and integer programming and deeply delve into the theory of how and why these techniques work. But it is much harder to find a class that discusses local search heuristics, and this class may be unique in its focus on actually solving very tough examples of classic DO problems "by any means necessary." The difficulty of the hardest problems combined with the smorgasbord of usable techniques and the open collaboration policy on the forums makes it feel almost like you are part of a research team instead of a student doing coursework. And in some sense you are, since not all of the best known solutions for these problems have been proved optimal and areas like the vehicle routing problem continue to be very actively researched. Considering the entire complexity class of these NP-Complete probl... This was one of the most fun and most challenging classes I've taken in any format. There are other classes that cover aspects of DO like linear and integer programming and deeply delve into the theory of how and why these techniques work. But it is much harder to find a class that discusses local search heuristics, and this class may be unique in its focus on actually solving very tough examples of classic DO problems "by any means necessary." The difficulty of the hardest problems combined with the smorgasbord of usable techniques and the open collaboration policy on the forums makes it feel almost like you are part of a research team instead of a student doing coursework. And in some sense you are, since not all of the best known solutions for these problems have been proved optimal and areas like the vehicle routing problem continue to be very actively researched. Considering the entire complexity class of these NP-Complete problems is not deeply understood, this should perhaps not be too surprising. Combining this collaborative "research" aspect of the course with the competition aspect of the leaderboards yields a really memorable experience. It is also a class that can scale to the level of effort you're willing to throw at it. For example, graduating with a certificate is a significant accomplishment, but should be manageable for most people with enough programming background to be comfortable implementing algorithms from informal descriptions. Getting distinction is significantly more difficult and time consuming and will often require many iterations of work improving your first solutions. And if you really aspire to produce the best solution on the leaderboard for the toughest problems, prepare for a lot of sleepless nights! Whatever level you want to approach the class at, I think you are sure to learn something!
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Vasily profile image
Vasily profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
I was fantastic. So hard problems and approaches to solve it, but so easy to understand. Not so much math (unfortunately for me). Pascal is amazing. Just see intro video.
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lagouye profile image
lagouye profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
One of the best course I've ever taken. I wish I had such a professor during my university years. I've got a master degree in general computer science, and I remember having a linear programming course, but it was so boring that today I hardly remember something about it... The video lectures are great focusing more on concepts and explanation than algorithm and implementations. Pascal Van Hentenryck is one of the top researcher in this field and he has some great pedagogy skills. The homeworks are hard, time consuming but very challenging. Once I started a problem, I had to find a solution...
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Cosmin Boaca profile image
Cosmin Boaca profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
I had basic prior experience with the subject but all the materials were very good and helpfull. I enjoyed the teaching method used because it helped me to understand the concepts better in order to complete the assignments. It was a little hard, but it was a great experience. The course it's very rewarding, every assignment solved made me feel pleased. Also, proffesor Pascal Van Hentenryck is an awesome lecturer and his explanations are short, clear and easy to understand.
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Willie McLean profile image
Willie McLean profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
I've just finished the first offering of this course and I absolutely loved it. It was hard but extremely rewarding. Go for it if you're up for the challenge - you'll have a blast! The course format was slightly unusual in that all of the material, including all of the problem sets, was made available from the start. Several different techniques were introduced and students were encouraged to try them on the various problems, the point being to emphasise that no one method is necessarily ideal even within a single class of problem. Prof. van Hentenryck exhibited huge enthusiasm for the subject matter and there was lively discussion amongst students on the forum with frequent input from tireless staff member, Carleton, as well as from the professor, himself. I came in to the course with zero prior experience of the subject matter. Consequently, I faced a pretty steep learning curve and had to put in rather a lot of hours to get there.... I've just finished the first offering of this course and I absolutely loved it. It was hard but extremely rewarding. Go for it if you're up for the challenge - you'll have a blast! The course format was slightly unusual in that all of the material, including all of the problem sets, was made available from the start. Several different techniques were introduced and students were encouraged to try them on the various problems, the point being to emphasise that no one method is necessarily ideal even within a single class of problem. Prof. van Hentenryck exhibited huge enthusiasm for the subject matter and there was lively discussion amongst students on the forum with frequent input from tireless staff member, Carleton, as well as from the professor, himself. I came in to the course with zero prior experience of the subject matter. Consequently, I faced a pretty steep learning curve and had to put in rather a lot of hours to get there. Furthermore, the nature of the problems means that there is often the possibility of revisiting them, armed with new ideas, to try to achieve a better solution. The "12+ hrs" workload categorisation is a very relaxed lower bound on the time I spent. This course has the potential to eat up your every spare moment, not because you have to, but because you want to...
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Peter Williams profile image
Peter Williams profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
I really enjoyed this course and I will remember it for the rest of my life. The format of the course was to solve a series of difficult problems with little guidance but with reference to a set of lectures that gave practical descriptions of methods that could be applied to the problems. What made me like the course was that it treated its students with respect and showed us how to solve difficult problems without out any hand holding. There were many ways this course could be improved upon (more written notes, more direction etc) but that misses the point. This course was inspiring because \- the assessment problems were challenging. \- the lectures explained how to think about problems like the assessment problems but not how to solve the assessment problems per se. I thought that I was learning useful skills and not just trying to get good grades. \- the lectures showed a great love of the subject being taught which rubbed off on... I really enjoyed this course and I will remember it for the rest of my life. The format of the course was to solve a series of difficult problems with little guidance but with reference to a set of lectures that gave practical descriptions of methods that could be applied to the problems. What made me like the course was that it treated its students with respect and showed us how to solve difficult problems without out any hand holding. There were many ways this course could be improved upon (more written notes, more direction etc) but that misses the point. This course was inspiring because \- the assessment problems were challenging. \- the lectures explained how to think about problems like the assessment problems but not how to solve the assessment problems per se. I thought that I was learning useful skills and not just trying to get good grades. \- the lectures showed a great love of the subject being taught which rubbed off on me.
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sesm profile image
sesm profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
All other optimization MOOC I've seen focus mostly on Linear and Integer Programming. This course, however, explores a wider range of topics, starting with basics like Dynamic Programming and Branch'n'Bound, and then proceeding with in-depth coverage of Constraint Programming, Local Search and Integer Programming. The approach of this course is 'learn by doing': students get instances of optimization problems and should solve them with whatever methods they've learned. Such approach results in unique learning experience, when students discover the nature of optimization by applying different methods to the same problem instances. As a result, after finishing this class students have very good intuition about pros and cons of different optimization methods and are very confident in their ability to solve real-world optimization problem. I would highly recommend this course to everyone, just to get the feeling of how exciting and addic... All other optimization MOOC I've seen focus mostly on Linear and Integer Programming. This course, however, explores a wider range of topics, starting with basics like Dynamic Programming and Branch'n'Bound, and then proceeding with in-depth coverage of Constraint Programming, Local Search and Integer Programming. The approach of this course is 'learn by doing': students get instances of optimization problems and should solve them with whatever methods they've learned. Such approach results in unique learning experience, when students discover the nature of optimization by applying different methods to the same problem instances. As a result, after finishing this class students have very good intuition about pros and cons of different optimization methods and are very confident in their ability to solve real-world optimization problem. I would highly recommend this course to everyone, just to get the feeling of how exciting and addictive a MOOC can be. Even if you're not currently interested in discrete optimization, halfway into the course you are likely to loose your sleep over thinking of how to optimally solve Travelling Salesman Problem with 33810 cities or optimally color a huge random graph. This course is particularly recommended to those, who took Tim Roughgarden's "Algorithms: Design and Analysis, Part 2". I'm sure you guys are curious to know, how NP-complete problems are dealt with in practice.
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Morgan Curly profile image
Morgan Curly profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
A great mooc! It's quite hard, but also rewarding. I really appreciate the interactivity of this course.
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Trevor profile image
Trevor profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 4 reviews
  • 4 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
A subject I did not realise I was interested in, but have already put my learning to practice at work. A great lecturer if not a little zanney. Well worth the hard work and very enlightening.
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Piotr Śródka profile image
Piotr Śródka profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
I am taking courses to become programmer. Discrete optimization turned out to be a very exciting, fantastic and engaging course. I must say it was one of the best courses I ever had and Pascal is a very well prepared and very talented teacher. He doesn't hold your hand but instead motivates you like a professional coach to do your job. And to do it better. Thank you and keep up the good work!
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Agustin Montero profile image
Agustin Montero profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
This course is awesome!!
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Chris Brett profile image
Chris Brett profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 5 months ago
Educational and enjoyable. Excellent lecture material, good assignment topics, good support from the organisers and from the community.
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