Find out how modern electronic markets work, why stock prices change in the ways they do, and how computation can help our understanding of them. Build algorithms and visualizations to inform investing practice.
I took the class in the Fall of 2013 and while I did learn a few things, overall, I would have to call the class a disappointment. The lectures were poorly organized. Dr. Balch should have started off with all the basics one should know about reading stock quotes (e.g., adjusted close and reverse-splits become relevant to assignments before he talks about them in lecture). Dr. Balch would frequently dwell on relatively simple concepts (e.g., the CAP Model, a simple line equation) while glossing over the very complex ones (e.g., integrating PANDA, NUMPY, Python and QSTK to build a market simulator). I was horrified by the faulty statistics he used to explain why more, small trades are better than fewer large trades. (I.e., He compares the SUM of small trades, to the AVERAGE of large trades; for a single large trade he fabricates a standard deviation). I was looking forward to this class and took a Python class to prepare for this one but after 3 weeks I just watched the remaining lectures at 2x and moved on.
The course started out really good (even if I played the videos with 2x speed, since the instructor speaks really slow and explains well enough to be able to understand everything at the first time), and the instructor participated A LOT in the forums and really used student's feedback. Another plus is the fact it uses open-source software(did not have any troubles on setup on Windows),
Now, the bad:
-Even if you have programming experience, you will waste a lot of time getting used to QSTK (unless you already know Panda and numPy), even if you already know how the problem should be solved.
-Coherence between videos vanishes since the middle of the course. What I mean is, even if the videos are well designed individually, it's hard to maintain an idea of the bigger picture.
-The coherence of each
-Evaluation is based on 2 questions with 4 options and you got 5 tries, so even if you don't make the assignments you can complete the course by just answering randomly.
And, trying not to be picky here but... the music+photo+"Tucker Balch,Phd" at beginning of the videos is really unnecessary and the sound quality on some videos should be fixed.
Most of these reviews relate to the first offering of the course. We spend a lot of effort revising the course in response to student feedback. I think if you take a look at our recent survey results you'll see that our efforts were successful: http://wp.me/p11WgN-hW
What can I say....I agree with every statement in the preceding reviews. I think Tucker is a great guy (to have a beer with) and has his heart in the right place. His teaching style is lacking and the course was not ready for deployment. Hard to get a sentence out without at least four "um"s. I would anticipate the next round of this course will be better. However, there are probably better options. The course from University of Washington (mentioned previously) is off to a good start. Also, when taking Tucker's course, Windows users should beware. The tools are not friendly to Windows. He even states that we need to accept Unix as the operating system. I was never able to get the recommended tools to work on my ancient Windows XP computer or a Windows Vista laptop.
I think Tucker's heart is in the right place, but the course at this point is a mess. Too much time was spent dealing with Linux and getting QSTK loaded. I am starting Introduction to Computational Finance and Financial Econometrics by Eric Zivot which starts 12-17-12 on Coursera. It is being taught in a Windows environment which I hope will be easier to deal with. There was a guy named Harris Butler who put videos on YouTube to help with homework. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have made any progress on the assignments. Tucker has a TA working for him who I truly like to listen to. He is trying very hard, and I think he will be a better educator for having done this. Tucker's lectures are a little lame. The production values are real bad. The later lectures feature 30 seconds of intro music and 30 seconds of exit music at the beginning and end. The availability of the lectures was normally late, and some lectures seemed to teach something from the prior week's assignment. I think Tucker would be a great guy to have a beer with. This course just isn't ready for primetime. I am sticking with it until the end, but my expectations are low.
Great insight into how the stock market works, and you build a market simulator with buy and sell orders based on real data. Anyone who is computer literate and investing in stock markets would benefit from the class.
I took this course in Fall 2012. It was a pragmatic and engaging course, and it did not shy away from introducing complex financial concepts. At first I felt that we went at a slow pace but when reflecting back I am proud of what I have learned.
The introduction to finance principles was clear and interesting. I enjoyed it a lot. I felt that the projects were well organized and they flowed well from one to another.
By the end of the course we had created a market simulator that we could use to test different strategies.
While, I agree with other reviewers that it would have been better if there were more frequent projects, I still find it compelling that the projects were so engaging and practical. AN interesting project is hard to come by in an educational course. EVEN 1 compelling project can worthwhile - and that is true for this course!
Great course, I will look for other courses that are taught by Prof. Balch.
I'm the instructor of this course. Some of the reviews here are not consistent with the responses we've received from students who enrolled. I invite students who are interested to take a look at those survey responses here:
Great course if you have a technical background. If you don't know python programming it'll be a bit hard. But if you know python its a good introduction to computational investing. The one thing I'll remove from the course is the videos answering questions from the people taking the course.
Great course for people starting to study about electronic exchange markets. Professor Balch has an excellent performance in front of the camera telling us the essential matter, so the video lessons are really short which is very good for people engaged in other projects. Practical homework is welcome, as we developed several cool phyton programs. Some tweaks should be made concerning forum issues clarification. Thanks Tucker!
As other posters have said, the first iteration of the course was definitely premature. Professor Balch was pretty much just winging it the whole time and you had to wait a bit for course materials to come out. If you're not a patient, laid-back person you probably should hold off on taking it. If you're going to make forum posts like "I need the assignment NOW or I won't have time to do it!!!!" chill out and go do something else. It was a very flexible class, so late materials were taken into account in the deadlines (although communication could be improved, because new stuff would sometimes be posted without an email going out).
As for the course material, I learned some interesting things and had fun with the programming assignments. It's an intro course, for sure. If you have a strong finance background, don't take this class. But if you like programming and want to learn some basic investment applications of code it could be worth your while.
The class is easy and doesn't take up much of your time. This can be a good thing if you've found other Coursera classes to be too time-consuming if you have a job or school courses to take up most of your time already. You won't be wasting hours (days) of your time trying to get your code to match up exactly to what the course grading system is expecting.
I was simply shocked by how bad this course is. The guy clearly does not know the subject and tries to re-interpret what little he understood from introductory books on investments. It is evident from any five-minute segment from any of his lectures, and also from the choice of required books (both unsuitable for an online course). His narcissistic videos are filled to the brim with the 70s rock music, so 20-30 seconds of rock! rock! rock - then five-seven minutes of unintelligible mumbling, and then half a minute more of rock, rock, rock around the clock (tonight). The guy is a former pilot and apparently spent too many formative years of youth flying a vertibird or something, all instead of developing his brain. Shame on Georgia Tech and unfortunately, shame on Coursera too, where many (most?) courses are of good to excellent quality. This guy was not even trying to deliver. Doing what he did is I don't know... immoral. Were it not a free course, there could be lawsuits and people asking for their money back. I was wondering what was his rationale behind doing a Coursera course? I can imagine two reasons 1) Like I wrote, narcissism, he wants to hear himself talk, and wants to be seen on the screen in front of ~100000 people who signed up for the course. 2) He was starting a quant fund (Lucena Research) and so was hoping that some of the students could accidentally find him a strategy he could use.
As stated above, great concept which was poorly executed. The foundation for an excellent course is in place, but there needs to be greater emphases on lecture content and follow through in putting together a series of examples and homework problems which highlight a lecture point. Failing that students can use the QuantSoftware Toolkit website to do independent study.
I also agree with most of the previous reviews of this class. I was able to get the software running on Windows, thanks only to a very helpful forum post from another student who provided step-by-step instructions. The concept is excellent, but unfortunately the execution has been exceedingly poor, especially compared with the other excellent Coursera courses that I've taken.
I likewise was very disappointed in this course. I'm sure Tucker knows his stuff, but it seems like other priorities in his life (i.e., teaching live, running a business) have left little time for him to focus on this class.
Hopefully things will improve in next iteration but at present its not worth the time to take this class. Whats sad is that lectures are too short with very less content (although it is interesting if you are new to finance/trading) [BTW I am comparing this course against 3 other MOOC I have taken.]
Unfortunately, this course is just not ready at the present time (Dec 2012). Lectures are late, and are very short. They have very little information in them. The programming interface is very difficult to install, an image with the software preinstalled would work better. Instructor seems like a nice person, but the current iteration needs a lot of improvement in order to recommend.