Computation Structures - Part 1: Digital Circuits

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9/10 stars
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edX online courses
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be tau...
Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be taught by David J. Malan, a senior lecturer on computer science at Harvard University for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. But there's not just one professor - you have access to the entire teaching staff, allowing you to receive feedback on assignments straight from the experts. Pursue a Verified Certificate to document your achievements and use your coursework for job and school applications, promotions, and more. EdX also works with top universities to conduct research, allowing them to learn more about learning. Using their findings, edX is able to provide students with the best and most effective courses, constantly enhancing the student experience.

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21575 reviews

Course Description

Digital systems are at the heart of the information age in which we live, allowing us to store, communicate and manipulate information quickly and reliably. This computer science course is a bottom-up exploration of the abstractions, principles, and techniques used in the design of digital and computer systems. If you have a rudimentary knowledge of electricity and some exposure to programming, roll up your sleeves, join in and design a computer system!

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on digital systems, teaching the fundamentals of digital circuit design and is based on a course offered by the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Topics include digital encoding of information, principles of digital signaling; combinational and sequential logic, implementation in CMOS, useful canonical forms, synthesis; latency, throughput and pipelining.

Using your browser for design entry and simulation, you’ll get...

Digital systems are at the heart of the information age in which we live, allowing us to store, communicate and manipulate information quickly and reliably. This computer science course is a bottom-up exploration of the abstractions, principles, and techniques used in the design of digital and computer systems. If you have a rudimentary knowledge of electricity and some exposure to programming, roll up your sleeves, join in and design a computer system!

This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on digital systems, teaching the fundamentals of digital circuit design and is based on a course offered by the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Topics include digital encoding of information, principles of digital signaling; combinational and sequential logic, implementation in CMOS, useful canonical forms, synthesis; latency, throughput and pipelining.

Using your browser for design entry and simulation, you’ll get to design and debug circuits at both the transistor- and gate-level, culminating in the creation of a 32-bit arithmetic and logic unit.

 

Learner Testimonial

“This course is like a dream coming true...as kid (10 - 12 years) I was already building circuits and reading books about Digital Circuits. Due to all kind of circumstances I never got to pursue a study and career in electronics ...now I am almost 50... I see this as a second chance. Thank you very very much for this awesome course. One of the best, (if not the best) MOOCs I've ever taken.” -- Previous Student

Reviews 9/10 stars
16 Reviews for Computation Structures - Part 1: Digital Circuits

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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Claudio Felicioli profile image
Claudio Felicioli profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 58 reviews
  • 58 completed
3 years ago
A great course covering the details of computation, both from electronics and from a more theoretical point of view. The assignments are usually more challenging than other similar MOOCs and probably are the best part of the course: for example, in the finite state machines section, you will program directly a Turing machine simulation.
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learner hope profile image
learner hope profile image

learner hope

10/10 starsCompleted
11 months, 2 weeks ago
I am reaching out for the staff, please hear this note: the course is awesome but like many others i did not arrive on the right time and the course has already ended which means we cannot review all it's valuable content. when i first heard about Edx i was fascinated be the idea of revolutionizing education, make it more accessible and flexible. thus i think it is important that edx keeps all its courses fully available around the year, i mean that's the whole idea of moocs, making high education equally available to people at their own pace. Please make the courses available all the time.
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Fedor Bublikov profile image
Fedor Bublikov profile image

Fedor Bublikov

8/10 starsCompleted
1 year ago
If I had to describe the content of the course in one sentence, that would be "3 introductory EECS courses mashed together with odd topic selection and random difficulty spikes". Well, as the name says, the heart of the course is "computation". As I've said above, sometimes topic selection seems a bit random (course which supposed to be centered around digital circuits starts off with Information Theory and glosses over Computational Complexity just for a good measure), but professor Terman is so great, you will watch all mini-lectures and then go to Youtube for the full-blown classroom experience. However, wide topic selection has a unpleasant side as well, as none of the topics presented are covered in any substantial depth (some of the topics selected could easily take a couple of courses on their own), at least not in a level of depth required to complete a later laboratory assignments. I wish they would stick to digital electron... If I had to describe the content of the course in one sentence, that would be "3 introductory EECS courses mashed together with odd topic selection and random difficulty spikes". Well, as the name says, the heart of the course is "computation". As I've said above, sometimes topic selection seems a bit random (course which supposed to be centered around digital circuits starts off with Information Theory and glosses over Computational Complexity just for a good measure), but professor Terman is so great, you will watch all mini-lectures and then go to Youtube for the full-blown classroom experience. However, wide topic selection has a unpleasant side as well, as none of the topics presented are covered in any substantial depth (some of the topics selected could easily take a couple of courses on their own), at least not in a level of depth required to complete a later laboratory assignments. I wish they would stick to digital electronics only, not jump all over the place. Laboratory exercises vary from very easy (Turing Machine) to almost not doable (ALU). Jade (tool you will use to build the circuits) is poorly supported and sometimes will refuse to grade correctly assembled circuits unless you'll do something illogical (like disconnecting everything and connecting it all back together, or deleting and re-inserting the same components). Also, completing later labs require to use Jade features that was never covered in the course or any supporting materials/examples. Forum is your only hope in this situation. My results are mixed. Grading policy incorporated in the course allows you to skip a couple of labs and still get a very decent grade (this does not happen at actual class, where all labs are mandatory). Unfortunately, some of the labs will be needed for the follow-up course and if you had a trouble implementing ALU, your chances for completing the lab assignments in the follow-up course are pretty slim. Right now I would only recommend the course if you already familiar with some of the material, or for the most curious. There will be some frustration on the way.
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Steven Frank profile image
Steven Frank profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 59 reviews
  • 57 completed
1 year, 6 months ago
MITx has divided the residential course called "Computation Structures" into three parts, and this is the first. It covers digital circuits, beginning with basic information concepts such as encoding schemes, entropy, and signaling. From there you move on to CMOS, combinational logic, sequential logic, and finite-state machines, and finally to the broader topics of performance measures and design tradeoffs. The course is introductory but, as with most MITx courses, often challenging. What would be taught in 4 or 5 weeks at MIT is spread out here into 8 weeks, with 2 units of material released every other week. That pacing is good and bad -- certainly it would be tough to get through all this material in so short a time, but I suspect most students found the hiatus between material releases a bit awkward. There are lectures, problem sets, graded homework assignments, fabulous labs (more on that below), and midterm and final ex... MITx has divided the residential course called "Computation Structures" into three parts, and this is the first. It covers digital circuits, beginning with basic information concepts such as encoding schemes, entropy, and signaling. From there you move on to CMOS, combinational logic, sequential logic, and finite-state machines, and finally to the broader topics of performance measures and design tradeoffs. The course is introductory but, as with most MITx courses, often challenging. What would be taught in 4 or 5 weeks at MIT is spread out here into 8 weeks, with 2 units of material released every other week. That pacing is good and bad -- certainly it would be tough to get through all this material in so short a time, but I suspect most students found the hiatus between material releases a bit awkward. There are lectures, problem sets, graded homework assignments, fabulous labs (more on that below), and midterm and final exams. The lectures, by Chris Terman, are engaging and clear; wry humor runs through the lectures and also the problem sets. Prof. Terman, however, is an off-stage presence. The course is run by ​Silvina Hanono Wachman, who delivers the tutorials, energetically answers questions on the discussion board, fixes whatever needs fixing, alleviates confusion, and does an amazing job at all of this. The labs are a highlight. Students build and test digital circuits using an online simulator, culminating in the design (with healthy guidance) and implementation of a 32-bit arithmetic logic unit. Another lab highlight is programming a Turing Machine simulation, which not only hones your skills with finite-state machines but offers a glimpse into the fundamentals of computability. The final exam was very challenging, with a single chance to answer each question, but also very fair based on the material covered. Overall this is a rigorous, well-organized, often exhilarating and occasionally entertaining introduction to digital logic and design.
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Imran Khan profile image
Imran Khan profile image

Imran Khan

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 7 months ago
A passionate professor, an extensive curriculum and excellent tools make this course one of the best on edX.
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student profile image
student profile image

student

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 9 months ago
I took this course the first time it was offered. Since then, I have completed dozens of MOOCs, but few courses have matched the quality of this one. The pedagogy is excellent; you are given ample practice through lecture exercises. There are also tutorial style solved problems. The labs encourage experimentation and exploration rather than restricting your attempts. Thus you are given all the tools necessary to score well on the problem sets. The level of difficulty is perfectly calibrated so that you feel accomplished after completing each one. And finally, any time you get stuck, the staff or other learners are often around to nudge you along.
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student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 1 month ago
The material is rigorous and challenging and allows us to assimilate the course information more throughly . And the most fun of doing this is through labs which I believe are the best part of this course . They have not only taught us to think about the gates in terms of transistor level but they also have gone extra mile with introducing turing machines through fun lab excercises. And if that's not enough we have talked about the metrics of information I.e bits , how they are measured , detected and corrected , Besides that the concept of latency and performance has been discussed . Though the designing of ALU 32 here really takes the cake , which though hard to think of in starting as a whole gets easier when instead we talk about the operations and designing in terms of different components it have . This has been no doubt one of the best moocs I have taken so far and I am really looking forward for it's further next parts... The material is rigorous and challenging and allows us to assimilate the course information more throughly . And the most fun of doing this is through labs which I believe are the best part of this course . They have not only taught us to think about the gates in terms of transistor level but they also have gone extra mile with introducing turing machines through fun lab excercises. And if that's not enough we have talked about the metrics of information I.e bits , how they are measured , detected and corrected , Besides that the concept of latency and performance has been discussed . Though the designing of ALU 32 here really takes the cake , which though hard to think of in starting as a whole gets easier when instead we talk about the operations and designing in terms of different components it have . This has been no doubt one of the best moocs I have taken so far and I am really looking forward for it's further next parts to have the complete course (6.004) experience .
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Georgios Kopanias profile image
Georgios Kopanias profile image

Georgios Kopanias

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 1 month ago
The material was very interesting and challenging. Concepts were presented step-by-step, in a clear way. The most important part was the hands-on exercises that enabled me to digest the content more efficiently. Looking forward to part 2!
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student profile image
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student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 9 months ago
Great content. When is Part 2 coming? .
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MINHHAI TRAN profile image
MINHHAI TRAN profile image

MINHHAI TRAN

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 1 month ago
Thank you for the great course! All material is great, and especially practice-Labs are very interesting and challenged (I felt). In addition, I received prompt replies from assistants, for example from Silvina, that makes me feel connected like in the traditional classroom. The quickly wrapping up, issuing certificate also are impressed. I am moving to the MITx - 6.004.2x
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Jan Blank profile image
Jan Blank profile image

Jan Blank

9/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 1 month ago
Classes are well designed and explained in a concise and clear manner. Topics are quite challenging, but certainly worth knowing about. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who is interested in knowing how computers do their work at the most basic levels.
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prashant singh profile image
prashant singh profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 10 reviews
  • 8 completed
3 years, 1 month ago
Its a very interesting introductory course of CS. Short videos on concepts and followed by quizzes are very engaging. Registers,FSM,Pipelining are explained in a very intuitive manner.
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Jane Oh profile image
Jane Oh profile image

Jane Oh

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 11 months ago
Brilliant course! The lab exercises are fun and challenging. The instructor is engaging and relates the course materials to actual practices. The teaching assistants are also very helpful. I only had some exposure to the materials in this course, but with enough hard work, I was able to finish the course.
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Po-En Tseng profile image
Po-En Tseng profile image

Po-En Tseng

8/10 starsTaking Now
3 years ago
The course is overall really great. It would have been better if the lectures can be done on the blackboard though. I found it much easier to learn that way.
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Nidhi S profile image
Nidhi S profile image

Nidhi S

9/10 starsTaking Now
3 years, 1 month ago
This course was really helpful for brushing Digital concepts.Challenging and interesting. Looking forward to the next course in series.
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Thomas kensah profile image
Thomas kensah profile image

Thomas kensah

10/10 starsTaking Now
3 years, 4 months ago
I have always been a fan of self-tutoring, and currently, I hold no degree but I work as a Game Programmer with one of Africa's Top Web and Mobile games development companies. I look forward to taking this course and I say, Edx was a brilliant initiative. :)
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